It’s a season to be jolly, where Christmas tunes are playing and mistletoe is hung. Christmas markets are one of the best places to experience the romantic fairy lights, charming streets and festive spirit in full swing.
Here are some of the Christmas markets and traditions to get you in the full jolly spirit:
- Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market, Berlin, Germany
The three historical buildings at the Gendarmenmarkt square stand bright and proud with decorative lights during Christmas season. Visit artisan stores for Christmas goods like origami craft, belts, glass art. Expect to find fragrant food stores that offer German, Austrian, and Bavarian dishes to gourmet delicacies.
Did you know? If you order mulled wine and are charged higher than the price indicated at the market, don’t panic. The extra amount is a deposit for the mug. Feel free to return it or keep the mug as a souvenir as they are usually specially designed for the year-end event.
Where to stay: COSMO Hotel Berlin Mitte and Titanic Gendarmenmarkt Berlin Hotel are within walking distance to the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market. Situated in the cultural and shopping area of Berlin, they provide easy access to the city’s attractions.
2. St Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market, Budapest, Hungary
If technology is more you than tinsel, St Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market might be the spot for you. The market is famous for one of the largest 3D light painting shows in Europe, where visitors can be part of the narratives projected on the façade of St. Stephen Basilica. There is skating-rink free for children under 14 and culinary booths offering a taste of Hungarian specialties such as fried sausage and pálinka (fruit brandy).
Did you know? Hungarian children can receive gifts twice during this jolly season. On December 6, children leave shoes on their windowsill to get small presents like sweets or chocolates and also wait for the bigger gifts under their Christmas tree on the eve or morning of Christmas.
Where to stay: There are 8,000 properties to choose from in Budapest. Stay at the Kempinski Corvinus and Hotel President to enjoy Christmas in Budapest with many Christmas markets nearby, and St Stephen’s Basilica just a few minutes away.
3. Medieval Christmas Market (Advent spectacle at Wittelsbacherplatz), Munich, Germany
This market tries to capture the atmosphere of Munich Christmas markets dating back centuries ago with vendors in period costumes, medieval wares, and performances. During the weekend it gets lively, so be sure to whip out your cameras and catch minstrels singing and armored knights in the streets. Food is also made using traditional recipes, staying true to the theme of the event.
Did you know? You can pick up a Lebkuchen at the markets. The traditional German treat is a large cookie that is usually heart-shaped with a Christmas message on it, making it the perfect gift for your special someone with a sweet tooth.
4. Winter Wonderland Hyde Park, London, England
This year, the market boasts the world’s tallest transportable observation wheel, UK’s largest open-air ice rink, karaoke, sculptures, performances and more excitement for the whole family.
Did you know? If you’re not one for hot chocolate and mulled wine, you can get a cool fix instead at Bar Ice in Winter Wonderland. This bar keeps your alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks chilled at -10°C and serves them in pre-carved ice glasses. Book ahead to secure tickets.
Where to stay: The Westbourne Hyde Park and Best Western Mornington Hotel are very close to the subway station and city center allowing you to explore the city in the day time before having loads of fun at the Christmas market in the evening.
5. Karlsplatz Art Advent, Vienna, Austria
This is an alternative market for art and culture enthusiasts to shop for Christmas-themed products and more. Expect unique and original high-quality crafts from this curation of talented creators. Vendors have to pass a panel of judges in order to showcase and sell their crafts at the market! The food and beverage stalls serve organic cuisine and drinks, so you won’t get hungry strolling around Karlsplatz.
Did you know? Austrians get twigs from cherry trees and place them in a vase of water on December 4. It is believed that if the twig blossoms by Christmas eve, the family will be blessed with good luck.
Where to stay: Check in at Grand Ferdinand – Beyond Stars and Standards for a stylish stay in the heart of Vienna and not far from Karlsplatz Art Advent, or stay luxuriously at the Schlosshotel Romischer Kaiser.
6. Enchant Christmas, Washington, DC, USA
While Enchant is not quite the same kind of Christmas market one might find in Europe, it is probably one of the brightest Christmas events in America. Enchant’s star attraction is its world’s largest Christmas light maze, which is a marvelous walk-through based on an original story. There’s also a skating trail lined with illuminated trees, reindeers and spectacular Christmas decorations.
Did you know? The National Christmas tree stands proudly in front of the White House and is surrounded by 56 smaller trees representing the different states and territories of the United States.
Where to stay: Book your stay at Homewood Suites by Hilton Washington DC Capitol-Navy Yard which is not far from Nationals Park where the Enchant takes place or the family-friendly Residence Inn Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard which boasts spacious rooms, a kitchenette and is pet-friendly.
7. Christmasland, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Recognised for its massive scale and the most beautiful Christmas-themed decoration in the country, Christmasland features Taiwan’s tallest Christmas Tree and fun activities for all ages including rides, carnival games and concerts. Feel the festive vibes and marvel at the extravagant LED light installation and light shows while enjoying folk song and dance performances.
Did you know? The fair takes place at Banqiao district in New Taipei City which can be easily accessed by taking the metro. Walk towards Citizens Square and start admiring the lights on the way there.
8. German Christmas Market, Sapporo, Japan
This market recreates the spirit of German Christmas markets in Japan. Visitors can browse through the stalls of Christmas souvenirs, watch performances or participate in workshops to craft decorations. The F&B booths offer a taste of German cuisine as well as other European food. You can opt for hot drinks such as Glühwein (mulled wine) and hot chocolate to warm you up.
Did you know? You can get your Instagram-worthy shots after walking through the market at Odori park and enjoy the romantic atmosphere of Sapporo White Illumination. The park is beautifully adorned with colorful lights and statues that glow and twinkle in contrast with the white snow.