Nothing says holiday cheer like a classic Christmas market. Get those cozy sweaters on, grab a cup of mulled wine and get ready to pretend you live in a snow globe. Browse these market stalls and pop ups for holiday decorations, souvenirs, toys and, of course, delicious food. From the famous German Christmas markets to magical spots right here in the US, we’ve rounded up the best Christmas markets in the world to fill all your winter wonderland needs.
When Are the Christmas Markets Open?
Originating in Germany, Christmas markets are large-scale popups, usually set up outdoors with stalls or chalets filled with handmade goods for sale and delicious traditional foods. While duration times vary, most markets open mid to late November and stay open until Christmas or just before. Some even stay open through early January and you can sometimes find deals after the holidays. Most markets are free to visit, but some do require admission, so check before planning a visit. Almost all Christmas markets are open throughout the week and often less crowded then, but you don’t want to miss out on entertainment programming and special activities on the weekends. We recommend going to a market in the late afternoon so you can get your shopping in while there is still daylight, but are also there when the sun goes down and holiday lights come alive.
Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Gendarmenmarkt German Christmas Market, Berlin
November 25 – December 31
German Christmas markets are world famous and do not disappoint. Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt brings the most beautiful holiday spirit to Germany. Kids will love watching craftspeople in the large crafts tent as they make some of the most beautiful items you will ever see. Music is a huge component of Gendarmenmarkt, so grab some hot cocoa and sing along!
Piazza Santa Croce Italian Christmas Market, Florence
November 28 – December 20
The Piazza Santa Croce Christmas Market is the place to find holiday cheer and hunt for the perfect holiday gift while visiting Italy. You will find toys, ornaments, unique garments, decorations and holiday sweets and treats. The market makes sure to offer authentic bratwurst, beer and pretzels. This particular market is heavy on traditional German Christmas markets. But don’t worry! There are plenty of Italian twists offered throughout.
Frankfurt British Christmas Market, Birmingham
November 7 – December 23
You don’t want to miss the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria. The Frankfurt Christmas Market is located in Saint Paul’s Square and it is absolutely enormous. This Christmas market plays host to artists and artisans of all types so you’re sure to find classic handmade goods you’ll love. Purchase some mulled wine, listen to the church bells and take in the majestic 32 meters tall, 80 year old Christmas tree that stands over 100 feet tall.
Winter Wonders Belgian Christmas Market, Brussels
November 29 – January 5
Taking place mainly at the Grand-Place as well as throughout the city of Brussels is Winter Wonders. This holiday tradition includes a Christmas market with more than 200 chalets, fairground attractions, ice rinks for skating and a fantastical schedule of holiday fun and attractions. Don’t miss the light projections and nighttime light parades that are sure to wow kids.
Courtesy of Wienerweihnachtstraum.at
Viennese Dream Austrian Christmas Market, Vienna
November 15 – December 26
The Viennese Dream Christmas Market is located directly in front of Vienna’s City Hall. The picturesque holiday scene provides rows and rows of holiday goods for sale. Inside the ground floor of City Hall are activities for children, including fun options like cookie and candle making. Make sure you stop by the ice rink and the rides on the north side of the market.
Skansen’s Swedish Christmas Market, Stockholm
November 30 – December 20
Skansen’s Christmas Market is a true traditional holiday staple in Sweden’s culture. Since 1903, locals have been joining together to celebrate the season in this open-air museum. Each stall hosts an array of specialized goods ranging from crafts and apparels to handmade trinkets and holiday decorations. And don’t forget to try the traditional sausages, turkey and spices.
Basel Swiss Christmas Market, Basel
November 28 – December 23
Located at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz, you will find the Basel Christmas Market in the heart of downtown. Known as the prettiest and largest Christmas market in Switzerland, this festival features many cultural events to fill your advent season. Don’t miss the gorgeous Christmas tree with ornaments intricately designed by well-known decorator Johann Wanner.
Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square Czech Christmas Markets, Prague
November 30 – January 6
Prague’s two main markets are Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square and they are within easy walking distance to one another. Both markets are the perfect combination of locals and tourists. Each market is full of handcrafted gifts and Christmas goodies to purchase. Make sure you visit hungry because these markets are big on fresh, authentic holiday food!
Rynek Glowny Polish Christmas Market, Krakow
Last week of November – December 26
Located in Krakow’s largest central square, Rynek Glowny, this Christmas market has all the usual suspects from Christmas-related merchandise and decorations to toys, foods and hot drinks to stay warm. But it also has a unique Polish specialty craft that makes for the ultimate souvenir: glass baubles that are each painstakingly hand painted creating one-of-a-kind ornaments.
Strasbourg French Christmas Market, Strasbourg
November 22 – December 30
The Strasbourg Christmas market is one of the oldest in Europe. It boasts over 300 wooden chalets set up to offer visitors handmade gifts, delicious foods and fun activities for the whole family. Be prepared to be fully immersed in a magical, old-world winter wonderland.
Tivoli Gardens Danish Christmas Market, Copenhagen
November 16 – January 5
Christmas in Tivoli Gardens is an experience you don’t want to miss. The Christmas Market is only just the start of the Christmas wonderland you can visit. The elaborately decorated Tivoli Gardens will make you feel the festive spirit instantly! Enjoy a train ride to to begin your Christmas journey before checking out the holiday entertainment, foods and holiday-themed rides.
Fira Llucia Spanish Christmas Market, Barcelona
November 29 – December 23
The tradition of the Fira de Santa Llúcia is steeped in history dating back to 1786. Originally thought of as a “girl’s fair,” this holiday celebration has evolved to welcome everyone. About 280 stands line the market selling traditional religious goods and crafts. Make sure your kids try out the zambomba – a traditional Spanish instrument played during the holidays.
Best Christmas Markets in the US
Bryant Park New York Christmas Market, New York City
October 31 – January 5
Of course Rockefeller Center will always be a huge draw during the holidays in New York City, but a stroll through Bryant Park’s Winter Village is certain to put anyone in the holiday mood. This holiday village is complete with shopping, food and free ice skating (this year you can even reserve skate times online). This is the perfect stop to make when visiting the Big Apple for the holidays.
Love Park Pennsylvania Christmas Market, Philadelphia
November 28 – December 24
Held at the iconic LOVE Park is Philadelphia’s Christmas Village, which takes inspiration from the German Christmas markets in its style. With more than 80 vendors, the Christmas Village offers gifts like ornaments, toys, jewelry and apparel. And if you’re hungry, make sure you order some German waffles, gingerbread or mulled wine. Philadelphia comes alive during the holiday seasons with many other wonderful activities spread out across the city like their ice rink and more fun winter activities for kids near Disworth Park. Take advantage of excellent trip packages with huge weekend deals on hotels loaded with extra perks available only on VisitPhilly.com.
Christkindl Texas Christmas Market, Arlington
November 29 – December 22
Texans will want to head to the North Plaza at Globe Life Field in Arlington to get a taste of a truly authentic German Christmas market right here in the US. With its festive decorations, holiday music, yummy treats and traditional gifts, just stepping inside this German-inspired holiday market will immediately put you in the holiday spirit. Eagle eye shoppers will specifically want to look for exclusive Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas decorations and designs from the renowned Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Village in Germany. You can also savor authentic German treats like juicy brats and strudel. Even after the market festivities end, kids can still skate at the onsite ice rink through January 12.
Best Christmas Markets in Canada
Toronto Christmas Market, Toronto
November 14 – December 22
The Toronto Christmas Market is loaded with an array of activities. Complete with vendors offering a unique selection of handcrafted items, sweets and treats. There is a stage that provides daily entertainment, distillery walking tours, Santa’s house and of course a giant Christmas Tree.
Vancouver Christmas Market, Vancouver
November 20 – December 24
Get into the yuletide spirit at the Vancouver Christmas Market, located right by the seaside. It features more than 80 huts of authentic German sweets, treats and treasures. Kids will also love the walk-in Christmas tree and carousel, while parents will want to stop in for a hot drink at the Wunderbar. Families won’t want to miss the Kids Day on December 1, featuring family-friendly live entertainment, free arts & crafts, a market-wide treasure hunt and more.
By Jeffery James Dinan