Christmas Markets are held in the heart of many European cities in the run-up to Christmas.
We’re in the middle of summer and the majority of schools are about to break up for the summer holidays but it’s an ideal time to start thinking about Christmas Market breaks. Flights and hotels will already be getting very full for the peak weekends at the beginning of December and, as usual, prices are only likely to increase not to come down. Anyone who fancies a few days pottering around the markets in a European city before Christmas should therefore drag themselves out of the deckchair and spend an hour or so looking at the options available.
There’s nothing quite like a Christmas Market for its very special atmosphere which awakens the spirit of Christmas in us all. The decorated stalls, coloured lights and the seasonal aromas of Christmas food and drink are a treat not to be missed. German cities are famed for the quality and quantity of their Christmas Markets and Munich has some particularly good ones to offer the visitor. Munich’s main Christmas Market, and the one most visited by tourists, is held in and around the Marienplatz in the heart of the city centre. This historic market – in German “Weihnachtsmarkt” – dates back to the 17th Century. Attractive stalls sell a huge variety of traditional Christmas gifts such as delicate Christmas tree ornaments, candles of every possible shape and size and Bavarian wood carvings.
Berlin has something to suit everyone in the Christmas market stakes and with about sixty markets. Two of the most popular are held at Charlottenburg Castle and at Gendarmenmarkt. Held in one of the most beautiful squares in the city, this market specialises in old handicrafts. Wood carvers and stonemasons display their work and jugglers, acrobats, fire artists, dance groups and choirs entertain the shoppers.
If you’re looking for something a bit different then Vilnius in Lithuania holds a popular Christmas Market in its medieval old town. Visitors will find typical Lithuanian handicrafts for sale on attractive, brightly lit stalls. It’s the ideal place to look for unusual Christmas gifts!
It’s difficult to beat the special atmosphere in Krakow’s Market Square, Rynek Glowny, at any time of year. When Christmas Market stalls fill the square this delightful Polish city comes to life even more. You could spend hours just browsing or perhaps buying some locally crafted jewellery or wooden crafts.
Of course seasonal food and drink are a very important part of the whole Christmas Market experience. Every German Christmas market will have numerous stalls selling Glühwein (mulled wine). The tasty hot wine is often sold in small decorated mugs. Local sausages are a favourite food in Christmas Markets throughout Europe. In Krakow you’ll also find bagels and pierogi, a type of sweet or savoury dumpling. In Prague visitors can observe traditional foods being made, and sample all manner of local produce. Large hams are roasted on spits and cakes and pastries prepared in front of you, such as ‘Trdelník’, a hot sugar coated pastry.