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The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

20th December, 2021, in Travel Advice & Guides

You may well have ticked off your Christmas shopping list already and with Covid having halted your foreign excursions for 2021, let us give you a look into which Christmas markets you should put to the top of your trips for 2022. We’ve picked 5 favourites that are sure to fill you with festive cheer.

Budapest – Advent feast at the Basilica

An award-winning Christmas market that brings together food, drink, and craft. Trading with approximately 100 stalls over 44 days means that you can find something different each day you choose to visit. Opening in November and closing in January, this market is one that illuminates the city with its stunning Christmas tree and keeps audiences captivated with 3D light shows, daily programmes packed full of music, and an ice rink. The ever-growing popularity of Christmas markets means at times it can be very busy. To catch the light show arrive before 430pm in preparation for the first one, they are then shown every half hour up until 10pm.

Strasbourg – The capital of Christmas

This particular choice isn’t for one market in particular but for Strasbourg itself as with a short walk, you can discover several of the best markets in Europe in no time at all. The lights, the smells, and the sounds all fuse together to bring Christmas to life. Strasbourg is the birthplace of Christmas markets in France with official records showing activity as far back as the 12th Century.

Head to Place Broglie for the Christkindelsmärik, it serves the best in food with locally curated specialities as well as national and international favourites on offer. It has become so famous over the years that we strongly advise turning up early as you don’t want to miss out!

Taking in the varied themes at The International Christmas Market at Place Gutenberg is also well worth considering, each year a different Country hosts and as a result, a delight of culinary indulgence is on offer as well as beautiful gifts originating from the host nation.

Our last offering from Strasbourg is The Alsatian Delicacies Market at Place du Marché-des-Poissons and the Patio of Palais Rohan. Focusing on local fare and showcasing artists, chefs, winemakers and more, this is potentially your Christmas gift one-stop shop.

The markets in Strasbourg run from late November until Boxing Day and are very popular so plan your trip to get the best out of your time!

Esslingen – A medieval wonderland

Esslingen in Germany has long been a favourite for many market-goers due to it being one of the most festive and picturesque places in the country. Unfortunately, the 2021 market was cancelled due to Covid but should you be heading to Germany for 2022, this should be the one that eclipses traditional favourites like Berlin and Munich. Steeped in medieval history and totally embracing that theme, Esslingen old town takes on a fairy tale like appearance for four weeks. With buildings that look like they stepped out of Hansel and Gretel and performers that transport you back in time, you wouldn’t want to miss it. If the theme wears thin (trust us it won’t) you can simply head over to Esslingen Marktplatz for the more traditional Christmas market.  80 huts beautifully decorated and offering you a feast of gift options against a stunning backdrop.

Bologna – A festive feast

Italy is a country that conjures up images of food, wine, beauty, and fast cars. At Christmas, especially in Bologna, the food takes centre stage. Often referred to as the gourmet capital of the Emillia-Romagna region, and sometimes of Italy itself, Bologna showcases its best features during its six-week Christmas market. Much like in Strasbourg, where an international market is hosted, Bologna puts together its own festive masterpiece with one from another nation. The French market in Piazza Minghetti creates a unique French village made from wooden houses that specialize in French craft, food, crafts, and gifts.

The Fiera di Santa Lucia is the oldest and most important of the two. An event that originated hundreds of years ago and really encapsulates the Italian Christmas theme. Found in Strada Maggiore and open every day until boxing day, this market is recognized by the Superintendency of Fine Arts of high historical and cultural value for its location and prevalence of articles for the nativity scene and tree that you will find there.

Brussels-5 weeks of festivities

Some would say we have left the best until last. The market in Brussels has long been a favourite for many. 225 chalets adorn the marketplace and will stay there for five weeks, offering fabulous food and gorgeous gifts. At night it becomes an illuminated paradise, that this year includes the Place de le Monnaie being transformed into a beautiful après-ski village until Jan 9th. For 2022 it could be something else though as each year the organisers look to create something even bigger and better!

Known as ‘Winter Wonders’ this Belgian market strikes the balance of modern and traditional with ease and entertains its visitors with an ice rink, plenty of food stalls, light shows and more. This is an extremely popular market though and many flock to see the stunning Christmas tree, shop the array of offerings, and ride the ferris wheel. So work your way through this spectacle at your leisure but if there is one thing in particular you do not want to miss, factor it in as soon as you can so you don’t miss out!

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