Let the European Christmas markets be your winter warmer.
Both hemispheres are feeling the heat come the festive period. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the effects of blistering summer sun that have us almost retreating into our fridges. Meanwhile, over in the north, Europe’s famed Christmas markets are places of warmth that many choose to stroll through to overcome the cold snap. Whether that be taking advantage of a fondue fountain (cheese, chocolate, we do not discriminate) or wrapping their woolly mittens around a mug of mulled wine, visiting one of Europe’s Christmas Markets will leave you feeling both warm on the inside as well as the outside. (And quite frankly, this is the only way I want to feel the heat!)
Here we list four European Christmas markets worthy of a stroll through to keep that warm, festive feeling alive both in and out.
Ever had that dream of being caught up in some kind of Disney fairy tale Christmas special? In Estonia’s capital Tallinn, come Christmas time, life is exactly like that. Taking a stroll through Tallinn’s UNESCO Heritage-Listed Old Town is nothing short of an enchanting affair with its colourful medieval architecture giving the town such a beautiful aesthetic. With it lit up for Christmas, it is even more magical.
Tallinn Christmas Market occurs in Old Town’s Town Hall Square, with a towering Christmas tree as its brightly lit centrepiece since 1441. (Fun fact: It was Europe’s first Christmas tree ever to be displayed.)
Voted Europe’s Top Christmas Market 2019, expect to find local trinkets, handicrafts made with Eesti love and Estonian cuisine (sour cabbage, game sausages, black pudding), gingerbread, freshly baked goods and hot drinks (including those with alcohol). If in need of some respite from the cold, head to Town Hall’s beloved hole-in-the-wall III Draakon for some elk broth. Tasty!
Things to do in Tallinn
To visit Germany or France? Why decide when you can have a taste of both. Sitting on the border south-east of France, Old Colmar’s well-preserved architecture is a fusion of German and French with its timber-framed houses oozing neon-lit gingerbread house vibes.
Come Christmas time, the city’s Christmas Markets will leave you feeling like you popped into a series of storybook villages. Its cobbled streets and canals shine bright with festive décor throughout its six marketspaces including Place de la Cathedrale, Place des Dominicains, Place de l’Ancienne Douane, Place Jeanne d’Arc, Children’s Christmas Market and Indoor Craft Market. (The smile never left my face when I strolled through these beautifully lit villages.)
Just like its architectural influences, expect to find French and German knick-knacks such as fondue, pretzels, varieties of sausages, baguettes topped with ham, mushrooms and snails and of course, mulled wine. Either if you choose to chant prost or salut – these markets deserve all your Christmas cheers.
Things to do in Colmar
Brussels knows how to get into the Christmas spirit and really wants to spread the festive cheer around – literally. Rated as one of Europe’s’ best Christmas markets, the Winter Wonders market spreads out from the heart of the city for over 2.5 km with its Christmas tree towering in the city’s magnificent La Grand Place. Every year its Christmas tree is donated with this year’s tree donated by the City of Stavelot. This year, the tree is decorated in Belgium lights to honour the iconic 400-year old Manneken-Pis statue.
Brussel’s Christmas markets are a combination of old and new with wooden chalets aligned across the city with the market featuring an ice skating rink, a traditional Ferris wheel and magical light show dominating the city square. Paired with offerings of conventional Belgian, French and Dutch delicacies, unique crafts and souvenirs, multiple Belgian beers on tap and spiced mulled wine, Brussels is the place to go to savour Christmas on the palate.
Things to do in Brussels
The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland only gets bigger and better, and this would have to be London’s go-to Christmas destination.
Hosted in London’s most prestigious park, it features over 200 market stalls allowing you to treat yourself to a smorgasbord of Christmas flavours found across Europe such as bratwurst, halloumi fries, fondue, pretzels, German gingerbread and of course, alcoholic beverages aplenty. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland also features a German beer garden reminiscent of Oktoberfest shenanigans, a carousel bar, amusement park rides (hello epic rollercoasters), circus shows and an ice skating rink. Ever the place to have a merry old time!
Things to do in London
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