Christmas Markets have existed in Europe since the Middle Ages. They started off as one-day markets, but nowadays they last through Advent, and in some cases, they open in mid-November and close before Epiphany.
In this article, the team at Looknwalk has asked bloggers to share the fairs they have visited and liked. There is still time to plan an escape to visit a Christmas Market, so if you haven’t been yet or plan to check out something you wouldn’t have thought about, read on!
New York’s Union Square Holiday Market, suggested by Brian from Hawaiian Brian
Nov 17th – Dec 24th, 2016, closed on Thanksgiving
Union Square Park is right in the heart of New York City, and each year it hosts the Union Square Holiday Market. About a month before Christmas, hundreds of red and white striped tents line the south side of the park and bring a festive flair with them. Vendors sell premium goods like handmade ornaments and jewelry, natural soaps and lotions, funky vintage and repurposed creations, and many more items that are perfect for giving or treating yourself. There is also a wonderful selection of holiday food that warms both the heart and stomach like warm apple cider and gingerbread. The best part is the New York City skyline is the backdrop to your holiday shopping experience!
Copenhagen Christmas Market, suggested by Lexx from Travel Lexx
Nov 19th – Dec 31st, 2016
Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens is a place like no other. Opened in 1843, it is the world’s second-oldest amusement park, home to thrilling rides, carnival-style games and music concerts. In mid-November, however, the park transforms into a magical fairytale as Tivoli prepares to welcome Christmas in style.
Tivoli gets a festive makeover as thousands of fairy lights and decorations turn the park into a winter wonderland. Wooden stalls line the paths, offering everything from street food and cups of traditional glögg to crafts and knitwear.
Wander around and enjoy the special light shows, festive menus in the eateries around the park and, of course, the rides themselves! Tivoli is a magical experience for kids and adults alike!
There is more to Christmas in Copenhagen than just Tivoli, of course. Traditional markets at Nyhavn, framed by its colorful houses, and central Kongens Nytorv are popular with locals and tourists alike. For something a little different, visit the Christmas market at Freetown Christiania, a semi-autonomous neighborhood with edgy street art and alternative shops and cafes.
Le Mans Christmas Market, suggested by Mri Grout from Lifelong Vagabonds
Unconfirmed dates for 2016
I love visiting markets, especially when traveling abroad, due to their wonderful window into the area’s lifestyle, and I cannot think of a market that has a more transparent view than the one in Le Mans, France.
Located on the very doorstep of the walled city’s main cathedral, Le Mans’ market has a picture-perfect backdrop full of history – a history that is further found within many of the market stalls. Ancient swords and guns are easily discovered among the old household’s pots and pans. Beautiful and historical artifacts like the ones pictured above are a bit less in number, though far from being a rare sight here. And when walking through these historical stalls eating local produce that’s been perfected over generations with a towering cathedral located right across the road…the magic of the moment has no words.
Editor’s note: if you plan to visit France before the Holidays, Paris turns into a magical place, especially lit up to welcome Santa and is home to a lot of Christmas Markets to check out.
Christmas Fair in Braşov, Romania, suggested by Olivia-Petra from Petra’s Chessboard
Dec 6th – (closing date unconfirmed)
I love Decembers! You do, too. I love Decembers in Braşov, the heart of Romania. There is something about this month… and this place!
We’ve got piles of snow most of the time, thousands of lights around the Old Town, and the tallest Christmas Tree in the entire country, year after year. It all begins on St. Nicholas Day when the bulbs are lit and the stalls open in Council Square.
You start craving gingerbread, but realize that you’ve never tasted a caramel apple. Szilvás gombóc (plum dumplings) are not to be ruled out. Their cinnamon flavor lingers on. Are you ready to buy some handmade items and put big smiles on your loved ones’ faces?
Bags, jewelry, decorations, kitchen utensils – have your pick!
First, though, have some mulled wine. It might even tempt you to try out one of the open-air skating rinks overlooking the center and restating the magic of Christmas. Santa would.
Photo credit: © Marcel Băncilă
Bucharest Christmas Market, suggested by Lori from Travel – Moments in Time
Dec 1-30, 2016
If you’ll be in Bucharest (capital of Romania) around Christmas, make sure to visit the Bucharest Christmas Market that is organized, for several years now, in Piata Universitatii. You’ll find many small houses (there were 60 in 2015) with Christmas decorations (handmade, painted, etc.), paintings, traditional clothes, Christmas fridge magnets, and more.
The event last for a month, it’s open daily and from Friday to Sunday, each week, you can enjoy live concerts (different guests each time). Kids have the chance to meet Santa – there is a special house opened and they can see him, take pictures with Santa Clause and his helpers and have fun.
There is also a huge tree decorated and a food court – usually traditional Romanian food, but not only. And all is fresh made! So visit the Bucharest Christmas Market! It’s easy to get here – and at the end of your visit, at night, you can take a walk on the boulevards and admire the Christmas decorations in the city.
Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival, suggested by Looknwalk
Nov 11th, 2016 – Jan 6th, 2017
I wasn’t surprised not to find Budapest in the list bloggers suggested. After all, the Christmas markets are not as big or as popular as the ones in Vienna or Prague. And that’s exactly what I love about them! The first time we visited – back in 2011 – I absolutely loved the location: Vörösmarty Square , at the end of Vaci utca. Well, the stalls extend on Vaci utca as well so you have a large area with a lot of things to choose from: handicrafts, trinkets, home made soap, and of course, food and drinks.
I love polenta with cheese and sour cream but I only managed to find this dish once! Gulyas (goulash), meat filled cabbage rolls, and grilled sausages are everywhere, of course. Mulled wine, punch, and palinka keep you warm (and easily get you tipsy, as well). Gingerbread, chimney cakes, roasted chestnuts and glazed peanuts are excellent portable snacks.
Budapest looks great before and during the Holidays, but it can be bitterly cold. Wear layers and make sure to bring your mittens!