Discover Europe’s Christmas Markets
Fairy lights, handicrafts, gingerbread and snow-dusted squares transport visitors into a magical and timeless world at the Christmas markets in Vienna, Salzburg and Prague.
Browse stalls selling hand-carved wooden toys, Christmas decorations, nutcrackers, Advent calendars and traditional confectionary, and enjoy outdoor concerts with a glass of glühwein in hand. This spicy red wine is not only a delectable festive beverage, but a great way to warm up during the outdoor celebrations.
Vienna’s Rathausplatz hosts 150 stalls in a shimmering mass of color, with Christmas decorations, traditional sweets and child-friendly activities on offer. Smaller markets can be found dotted around the city, including Riesenradplatz, Spittelberg, Karlsplatz, Maria-Theresien-Platz and Schönbrunn Palace.
At Salzburg’s Schloss Hellbrunn Christmas market, visitors can sample Mozartkugel chocolate pralines and enjoy a reindeer-pulled sleigh ride. Booths offer a range of Christmas decorations and handcrafted gifts, as well as fine baked goods and delicious aromatic glühwein. The city that gave us Mozart also offers popular performances by traditional Salzburg choirs and children’s school groups, which lure crowds every year. The market is opened by the Archbishop on the first Saturday in Advent right after the blessing of the Advent wreaths.
Prague’s Old Town Square hosts a red-roofed Christmas village selling decorations, a children’s workshop and an entertaining program of Christmas events alongside its enticing Christmas fare. Sample the roasted chestnuts and Christmas confectionary on offer, and take home a memento in the form of a special mulled wine mug.
Strolling through the snow-dusted stalls with hot chocolate or a hot mug full of glühwein is the highlight of Europe’s many treasured Christmas festivities, offering a refreshing change from commercialized Christmas shopping to the enchantment of a centuries-old tradition.
At the end of Nov., Piazza Santa Croce transforms into a German Christmas market from Dec. 3 to 21. Fifty-five wooden house-shaped kiosks take over the piazza, with stalls selling products from various European countries. Traditional German alpine crafts and foods are the main feature of the market, which offers tastings of such specialties as pork shanks, sauerkraut, pretzels, strudel, and of course beer, mulled wine and sweets. The market is open daily from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Dec. 21).
Fortezza da Basso hosts Christmas in the City for the first time from Dec.11 to 14, with a range of gift items and gastronomic products on display, as well as a dedicated children’s space featuring Santa Claus. The fair runs from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Dec. 11 and throughout the day from Friday to Sunday (11 a.m. until 8 p.m.). Entrance costs €5 and is free for children under 12.
If you’re looking for that last-minute gift idea then Piazza Santo Spirito hosts a Christmas-themed fair of organic and hand-made products from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Dec. 21.
The Italian Red Cross in Florence keeps the Christmas spirit alive with its annual Christmas market at Teatro Obihall from Nov. 21 through 23. It’s the perfect occasion for buying all your Christmas gifts in one place, featuring Italian gastronomic excellence, clothes, festive decorations, arts and crafts and games. The market was devised to raise funds for the charity, and therefore differs from other markets in that its proceeds go towards helping the needy. The Florentine Red Cross is an invaluable service in the area, providing the most disadvantaged with clothes, food and financial support. Unfortunately, in the holiday period, the number of requests for aid more than double. Buying your gifts from this market will ensure you contribute just a little this Christmas; which is, after all, a holiday for giving.
At the Florence Nöel fair at Stazione Leopolda, specially chosen exhibitors decorate their stands as creatively and enchantingly as possible to disperse the magic of Christmas all across the venue. Games, activities, hand-made crafts and mandatory festive food stalls all feature, as well as Christmas decorations and accessories on sale to enable visitors to re-create the fairy-like charm in their own home. One of the prime features of this year’s fair is the impressive ‘Polar Ice’ stage, where continuous flurries of snowfall on giant trees are lit by five kilometers of Christmas lights. Florence Nöel also hosts a ‘Christmas Bio — Santa’s pantry stall, as well as ‘Winter Weddings’ and naturally, a ‘Santa’s Workshop’ for children wishing to impart their long-held desires to Santa’s little helpers.