If you’ve never experienced a European white Christmas, then you haven’t lived! Feel the winter chill, watch lights twinkling, smell Glühwein and seasonal treats around every town square; there’s nothing quite like visiting a Christkindlmarkt. Personal travel manager, Kirsty Whittaker, shares with us why the festive season is one of her favourite times of year to visit Europe.
Some of the largest markets can be found in Germany, with wooden huts beautifully dressed with festive fare. Berlin has over 80 Christmas markets dotted around the city offering something for everyone. From handmade wooden toys and hand blown glass decorations, to gingerbread treats, roasted chestnuts, Currywurst sausages and red or white Glühwein, it’s a foodie’s paradise! If you are a first timer to the Berlin market scene, you can’t go past the markets at Potsdamer Platz, Alexanderplatz, Gendarmenmarkt and the beautiful baroque Charlottenburg Palace.
Almost every German city has some form of festive market. Dresden is the home of the oldest Christmas market in Germany, known as Striezelmarkt, and boasts both the world’s tallest Nutcracker and the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid. If you are travelling with children, take a detour to Nuremberg to experience the traditional market set below a stunning medieval hilltop castle. The Kinderweihnacht, or Children’s Market, features an old-fashioned steam train, carousel, Ferris wheel and nativity scene.
There are also wonderful Christmas markets in many other parts of Europe. If you head north to Scandinavia, you can’t go past the stunning Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen where you can ride on the world’s oldest running wooden rollercoaster. Tivoli comes alive at Christmas time with beautiful craft stalls, sweet treats and visits from Santa.
Sweden offers a traditional market experience in the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan, Stockholm where locals delight in hot spicy glögg (mulled wine) and a chat. For the ultimate in Scandinavian Christmas fun, take a visit to the Skansen open air museum just outside of Stockholm. Here you can get a taste of what Christmas was like in earlier times, learn to make Christmas decorations, shop for Scandinavian handicrafts or taste the local small goods whilst sipping some warming glögg.
European Christmas markets generally start in the last week of November, running until the last few days of December. Be warned, once you experience a ‘real’ European Christmas, you will be left wanting more. The great news is that it happens every year which means that there is always a new market to explore!
About the Author: Kirsty Whittaker joined the travel industry in 2002 and enjoyed her first Christmas market trip in 2003. She has since taken four European Christmas holidays with her husband and just recently with her five year old daughter. She specialises in tailoring making the perfect travel itinerary and is passionate about all things travel.