Christmas in Europe is a time for elaborate pastries straight out of a medieval cookbook, for lyrical midnight masses in Gothic churches, and for the upholding of quirky local traditions. However else Europeans celebrate the Yuletide season, Christmas still centers around an Advent market that has filled the square before the cathedral each December for hundreds upon hundreds of years.
These markets are where the romance of the holiday comes alive in grand tradition – smells of gingerbread and roasting sausages waft through the cold air, handmade ornaments adorn ancient fir trees, master glassblowers and other artisans ply their crafts in wooden stalls, shoppers bustle past Gothic church facades and half-timbered houses, pausing to sip their heavily spiced and mulled “glow wine”—the piping-hot beverage of choice at any self-respecting Teutonic Christmas market.
The whole experience is enhanced by live music, dancing and Nativity plays. It’s an old-world Christmas of heartfelt carolling and wooden toys, where every gift is crafted by hand. For a few precious frost-nipped weeks, these museum-piece cities of Old World Europe flicker back to the Middle Ages, to the living, breathing yesteryear of a bustling outdoor marketplace.
Christmas markets originated in Germany – still the spiritual home of the “Christkindlmarkt”. But their ever-increasing popularity has led to several countries introducing their own versions, meaning you have a large choice of slightly different markets.
The Wanderers has put together something special just for you so that you too can experience this magic that is Christmas Market at some of the best places in Europe.
Many markets start on the Friday before Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas Eve; most end on December 24, especially in Germanic countries, where Christmas Eve is set aside for trimming the tree at home. Others keep celebrating until Epiphany on January 6.
1 )“Old Viennese” Christkindlmarkt
Traditional Christmas Fair at the Freyung, one of the most beautiful places in the heart of Vienna. Here you can admire exquisite craftwork, special treats typical for Christmas time in Vienna and a varied cultural programme. In the late afternoon musicians will contribute to the Christmas atmosphere and visitors can enjoy this charming, lit-up square, surrounded by some of the most impressive Viennese palais, the Austrian fountain and the Church of the Scots.
2) Viennese Christmas Market In Front Of the City Hall
This market really is an unforgettable highlight for visitors eager to get into the Christmas spirit. The unique backdrop of the Burgtheater and the Vienna City Hall gives this Christmas market a charm all of its own. The delicious aroma of punch, traditional gingerbread, roasted almonds and honey puts everyone in the Christmas mood. Children can get lost in arts and craft works, preparing Christmas presents for grandma, grandpa, mom or dad!
3) Art and Atmosphere “Am Hof”
This is a small but really fine Christmas market, where artwork can be purchased which is presented and produced by Austrian artists. The square itself goes back to Roman times, and in the Middle Ages the Babenberger rulers built their residence here, which made this square the cultural centre of the city.
4) Spittelberg Christmas Market
Spittelberg is a beautiful area in the 7th district with small cobbled lanes, which is where the market takes place. Here you will find an almost medieval atmosphere. On the 6th of December St. Nikolaus comes to visit and of course there is also somewhere where children can prepare Christmas gifts.
5) Christmas Market In Front Of Charles Church
Here you find a little Christmas market with beautiful craftwork by Viennese artists. Unlike the larger markets in front of the City Hall or Schönbrunn Palace, this attractive market has a more intimate atmosphere.
6) Christmas Market Wilhelminenberg
Enjoy this Christmas market with a sensational view over Vienna! For ice-skating fans there is also an ice rink, with the whole of the city at your feet.
7) Christmas Market at Schönbrunn Palace
Enjoy the Christmas spirit at one of the most famous landmarks here in Vienna. Approx. 60 exhibitors present handicrafts and original gifts, such as hand-made Christmas decorations, mangers or objects made of natural materials which can of course also be purchased. The fragrance of fresh Christmas bakery, biscuits and hot punch also contributes to the atmosphere and feeling of Christmas.
Christmas carols, gospels and spirituals are performed by choirs, brass bands and music groups on the stage in front of the Christmas tree. On the weekends, an interactive Christmas game for children takes place at the Parade Court. In “Poldis Christmas Workshop” children can make handicrafts and small presents. In the Imperial Bakery of the Café Residenz Schönbrunn, kids can also cut out and bake Christmas biscuits and decorate gingerbread with stars, bells and Christmas figures.
8) Christmas Village Maria Theresia Square
Impressive Viennese buildings and traditional Christmas customs! The Christmas village, which is situated in the heart of Vienna between the 2 impressive museums on Vienna’s majestic Ringstrasse, will open its stalls for the 4th time this year. The Christmas atmosphere is provided by festively decorated market stalls as well as an array of culinary delights.
9) Munich Christkindlmarket
Munich Christkindlmarkt The most famous Christmas market is the Christkindl market. This is traditional Christmas at its very best and you’ll find all manner of stalls selling crafts, sweets, cakes, food, mulled wine and other delights. In recent years there hasn’t been much snow at market time but the atmosphere is always very special.
The equally popular Kripperlmarkt, one of the largest in Germany to specialise in cribs and other nativity accessories, is a short walk away on nearby Rindermarkt. The historical event has been part of Munich‘s traditional Christmas Markets since the middle of the 18th century. The Kripperlmarkt has all you need to create an authentic manger. Each lovingly chosen and carefully packed item is a reminder of childhood, when the manger under the Christmas tree symbolized a world of mystery and wonder. Christmas mangers, cribs and nativity scenes have long been a tradition in Munich.
11) Tollwood Market
More than a Christmas Market and totally different is the Tollwood Christmas Market, Munich´s fantastic ethnic festival. On the Theresienwiese you will find a spectacle of tents offering an exciting mix of international musicians and drama groups, performances, live music, art and culture as well as popular Christmas Market ideas with handicrafts and cuisine from all over the world.
12) Munich Christmas Market Pass
In addition to culinary delights and souvenirs from the many stalls of the Christmas market, the pass includes free entry to the tower of the City Hall and to the “Typically Munich” exhibition in the Munich City Museum.
The pass includes a cup of Original Munich Christmas Market mulled wine, a bratwurst (sausage) sandwich, a handmade wooden Christmas star from the crib market, free admission to the Munich City Museum and the permanent “Typically Munich” exhibition about the history of the city, an Original Munich Christmas Market cloth bag and free entry to the tower of the City Hall, which offers great views over Munich and the Christmas market.
13) Christmas Market on Alexanderplatz
The Christmas Market on Alexanderplatz has taken place there for 60 years and is one of the most popular in the whole of Berlin. In addition to browsing through the stalls, which sell all kinds of handmade goods, visitors can also have fun on the amusements, for example a ride on the largest transportable giant wheel.
14) Market between Staatsoper and Opernapalais
A nostalgic Christmas market takes place between the Staatsoper and Opernpalais. Craftspeople, confectioners, almond and chestnut roasters, and candle and lantern makers offer their wares in more
than 200 wooden booths. There is also a crib with real animals and a wooden horse carousel.
The much loved Christmas market on the boulevard Unter den Linden twinkles and shines. The illuminated Palais and the Staatsoper Berlin provide the nostalgic Christmas market with an appropriate backdrop. A coachman also invites you to take a pre-Christmas carriage drive through Berlin’s “old centre”. You can enjoy the historical atmosphere at the market and on a carriage ride against a unique backdrop.
15) Spandau Christmas Market
Berlin’s largest Christmas market takes place in the Spandau Old Town, casting a spell on the historic backdrop with pre-Christmas lustre. At the Spandau Christmas Market an unmistakeable Advent
landscape comes into being here every day during Advent. Highlights are a Christmas crib with living animals on Reformationsplatz, the St. Nikolai Christmas Garden and crafts and design at the historic crafts market on Reformationsplatz. There is a special range for children and families around the St. Nikolai church.
16) Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market
An atmospheric backdrop guarantees a wonderful experience in one of the most beautiful squares in the city. Insights into old handicrafts such as flax embroidery are offered. Wood carvers and stonemasons present their work. Jugglers, acrobats, fire artists, dance groups, choirs, Berlin classical, jazz and Gospel ensembles, as well as internationally famous artists, also ensure a varied show programme. Alongside the exhibitors’ wares, culinary temptations from top cooks also promise “Christmas spirit”.
17) Charlottenburg Castle Christmas Market
Since 2007 the Charlottenburg Castle Christmas Market in Berlin is host to one of the most famous Christmas Markets in the German capital. For 35 days the castle and its park are immersed in a special romantic light and a unique ensemble is created with approximately 150 vendors from all over Germany as well as abroad. Alongside attractive temporary and permanent exhibitions inside the castle, the Christmas market presents carefully selected arts and crafts, ancient handicrafts, and well chosen gastronomy inside of festively decorated cabins and exclusive glass pagodas.
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