Fill up on festive fun with a magical trip to one of Europe and America's most exciting Christmas markets in 2019, from Vienna to New York.
Delve deep into local traditions with a Christmas Market break to Prague from its ham roasting over spit fire to the gingerbread houses and folk groups. Old Town Square is where the action is at with its enchanting Church of Our Lady and the City Hall Clock sitting proudly in the backdrop. Tiny tots can enjoy pony rides at the petting zoo, while adults sip mulled wine and at the centre stage witness a show-stopping performance from the choir. Foodies need to check out Wenceslas Square for salty potato pancakes and barbecued sausages.
There’s only one Christmas market in Krakow, but it transforms the city into a winter paradise with over 80 kiosks decked out with tinsel and wreaths. Constantly breaking records, Market Square Christmas Fair is the oldest Christmas spot in Poland and one of the biggest Europe.
Pick up one-off items from embroidered textiles to traditional Polish pottery, you’re bound to find some fantastic gifts for your loved ones back home. But nothing is more satisfactory than trying the local fare, the cheese here is oscypek, which is prepared from sheep’s milk and has a distinct smoky flavour, while its grilled meats are just as popular – the aromas alone will lure you in.
The German capital is home to one of the best Christmas markets in the world, Weihnachtszauber Gendarmenmarkt. Attracting more than 600,000 visitors a year with its Charles Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Past theme, expect stalls overflowing with mince pies and hot chocolates. There’s even a toboggan run on extra frosty days and handcrafted gift vendors for stocking-stuffers. Other must-visits include Weihnachtsrummel on Landsberger Allee with its stand-out funfair and Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus, the oldest of its kind.
It’s not just the children’s eyes that will light up on a festive break to Cologne! The themed markets fill the city with the sound of Christmas music and the smell of gingerbread and mulled wine, while the stall traders offer everything from arts, crafts and toys to glass-blown ornaments (you can even watch glassblowers showing off their skills).
The most popular market is found in the heart of the city, and has the historic Gothic Cathedral and huge Christmas tree as a stunning backdrop. Not far from here young and old can enjoy “Heinzels Winter Fairytale” which attracts thousands of families with its spectacular ice rink, while the “Village of St. Nicholas” offers a unique and magical world of Christmas experiences. Not to be missed is “Christmas Market at Stadtgarten” where more than 80 stalls are set up in Cologne’s oldest park, selling everything from nostalgic gifts to elegant tree decorations.
New York, known as ‘The City That Never Sleeps’, is somewhere everyone should experience at least once! With iconic sights like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, The Rockefeller Centre and Brooklyn Bridge, you will feel like you have stepped into a living movie set! The lead up to Christmas makes this city even more magical. Trees adorned with fairy lights, ice rinks in the middle of beautiful parks, and street vendors roasting chestnuts can be found at every turn. A great selection of Christmas Markets can be found throughout the city, and the biggest (and perhaps most popular) is the Winter Village at Bryant Park.
With 12 markets and fairs, plus endless festive events across this city, you really will be spoiled for choice. Not to be missed is the Julemard Hojbro Plads. With no fewer than 18,000 sparkling lights, live reindeer, ‘secret pixies’, Santa’s sleigh, and Danish food served from classic log cabins, this is a market the whole family can enjoy. The Tivoli Hotel is situated in Copenhagen and is close to transport links which will take you to all of the city’s favourite attractions! With this ideal location as well as amazing family facilities this offer is perfect for families looking to explore this city – especially at Christmastime!
With six Christmas Markets to explore, some said to date back as far as the 14th century, Munich is the perfect choice for a festive family break. The city’s traditional market can be found St Mary’s Square and is best known for its huge Christmas tree and advent music that is performed live each evening from the Town Hall balcony. Just a few steps from the market, what is though to be Germany’s largest manger market can be found. The authentic Nativity scenes are home to lanterns for the mangers, fodder for the ox and donkey and, of course, the gifts from the Three Wise Men.
Travel across the pond and enjoy this festive season in one of the United States most popular destination. Boston is home to many attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway Park and the Boston Public Garden, but at Christmastime it’s the market that steals the show.
The city’s annual Christmas Market, taking place on 21st November 2019, is a fun-filled day perfect for all the family with a variety of stalls in the Market Place, Santa’s Grotto, the much-anticipated Lights Switch On, live evening entertainment and even an Illuminate Parade!
Dublin is famous the world over for it’s friendly locals and warm hospitality, and things get even friendlier at Christmas - the most magical time of year! Wander along Grafton Street beneath the twinkling lights, stop to enjoy the live music that fills the streets courtesy of the city’s buskers, and soak up the atmosphere of laughter, colour and sing-songs. When visiting with children, the annual Funderland Funfair is a must! Home to rides including dodgems, roller coasters, a Christmas haunted house, and even a log flume – so be sure to wrap up warm. The funfair opens on 14th December 2019.
Seville’s warm winter weather makes it the perfect choice for enjoying the company of your family while exploring the Christmas markets that fill the streets full of lights, laughter and children’s activities. When discovering this beautiful city, you will come across Nativity Scenes, traditional choirs, and stalls where you can taste many typically Spanish sweets. Each year Nervion’s Christmas market attracts thousands visitors because of it’s elaboration, hand-made decorations.
Taking inspiration from the Old World while being influenced by the new, Toronto’s incredible Christmas Market is open for a month starting from 14th November. The magical market can be found in the cobblestone street of the Distillery Historic District, and is reminiscent of the Victorian-era. Local musicians from solo singers to brass bands, bakers and craftspeople come together to create a truly festive experience, all overlooked by the giant Christmas tree. Kids can warm up with a hot chocolate, while parents can sip on mulled wine while discovering the selection of hand-made carvings and crafts. For an extra special moment, gather your family around the cozy fires and enjoy a traditional European Christmas dance show.
Valencia is a beautiful city to visit at any time of year, but the lead up to Christmas makes it extra special. In the city’s seven Christmas Markets you will find everything from hand-made crafts, food, toys and clothes. The most traditional of the markets fills the streets around the Central Market, with a huge selection of items on offer.
While the markets look magical with their twinkling lights, they also smell good too! Traditional ‘turróns’ (almond nougat blocks), marzipan, sugared almonds and, of course, roasted chestnuts can be found in the stalls.
Attracting a huge 2.5 million visitors each year, Winter Wonders pulls out all the Christmas stops and is an unmissable festive event in Brussels. It has everything your family could wish for from a Christmas market – magical lights, a huge tree, stalls full of gifts and crafts, an ice rink, life-sized manger and warming food and drinks. Even the real live Santa Claus, accompanied by the Smurfs, will be seen at this year’s event! For a modern twist on the traditional market, a high-tech Dome will entertain families with a range of activities, films, audio-visual performances and concerts.
Christmas markets in Vienna are an age-old tradition with festive celebrations dating back to the Middle Ages. Nowadays, there are over 20 advent markets and the front-runner is Viennese Dream next to the City Hall. Its desirable backdrop sets the magical tone and inside there’s a dedicated area for children, where they can learn how to bake cookies. Belvedere Palace also has its fair share of delights including Baroque-inspired crafts, and for hot punch and vanillekipferl (Austrian biscuits) head to Schönbrunn Palace.
This December, why not take your family on a magical city break to discover Hamburg’s 30 Christmas Markets! Woodcarvers, pottery makers, bakers and ginger bread makers, silversmiths and musicians fill the markets and fill the city with festive cheer. Every day at 4pm, 6pm and 8pm Santa Claus himself flies his reindeer sleigh into the sky above the market cottages sharing the story of the most famous reindeer of all – Rudolf. Stay in the city over a weekend and you can also enjoy a colorful parade that winds through the city centre every Saturday. Overlapping with the opening of the Christmas Markets is Hamburg Dom at the Heiligengeistfeld, the largest funfair in the north of Germany.
Looking for more inspiration over the festive period? Check out our comprehensive guide to the best UK winter wonderlands and find out how you can go green at Christmas with our sustainable gift guide.