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While most would rather stay indoors and away from the cold around this time of the year, there’s nothing like revelling in the warmth of the many Christmas markets in Europe during the holiday season. From amusement rides and carolling choirs to warm mulled wine and sweet pastries, it’s an annual experience not to be missed.
Here are some of the best Christmas markets in Europe to visit!
German Christmas markets are world-famous and the country’s capital has some of the best—nearly 80 each year! Spandau Christmas Market is Berlin’s largest traditional market with between 250 to 400 wooden chalet market stalls. From 25 Nov to 22 Dec, you can catch Santa Claus on Wednesdays; join in the ‘Christmas Meets Rock and Roll’ concerts on Fridays or karaoke the night away on the last two Saturdays.
One of Berlin’s most popular, the Christmas market at Charlottenburg Palace comes alive for a month (25 Nov – 26 Dec) as hundreds of coloured lights, historical carousels and Santa Claus with live reindeer take over the grounds. Make the most of your trip by visiting the Palace and its gardens; special guided tours are available.
At one of Berlin’s most famous squares, the Christmas market at Alexanderplatz has an ice skating rink, trumpeters and over 100 illuminated wooden stalls up and running for 5 weeks (25 Nov – 26 Dec). Enjoy traditional Glühwein (mulled wine) and Thuringian bratwurst while you listen to the tower trumpeters on the second floor of Europe’s largest Ore Mountain pyramid.
For something different, check out the Lucia Christmas market at the Kulturbrauerei, named after Saint Lucy, a young Christian girl who was martyred in the 3rd century. On Saint Lucy day on 13 Dec, witness a traditional parade where the ‘bride of light’ adorned with a wreath of lights leads her entourage of star carriers, candle holders, gnomes and gingerbread men while singing Christmas carols in both German and Swedish. Stay warm with some Swedish Glögg (mulled wine) and Kanelbullar—a sweet cinnamon pastry—or head to one of the log fires or mobile saunas around from 25 Nov to 22 Dec.
And for those who wish to enjoy the festive season sustainably, the Christmas market at Friedrichstraße station (27 Nov – 29 Dec) and Zehlendorf Christmas market (25 Nov – 30 Dec) have an eco-friendly curling and skating rink respectively. Here you can continue to enjoy warm, mulled wine and live entertainment even after Christmas is over.
Stay: A great base for exploring the city is Capri by Fraser, Berlin / Germany, which puts you close to the many Christmas markets in Berlin. Use promo code ‘4PAY3’ before 31 December 2019 if you’re staying for four nights at the price of three!
One of the oldest and most beautiful Christmas markets in all of Germany is the popular Frankfurt Christmas market (Frankfurter Weinachtmarkt) which runs from 25 Nov to 22 Dec. Dating back to 1393, it is here in Römerberg old town you get to see Germany’s tallest Christmas tree—a 32-metre gift from the spa town of Bad Orb this year—with a life-size nativity scene beside it.
Opening day will see The Frankfurt Opera performing Christmas carols alongside a host of unique local delicacies like Bethmännchen, small marzipan and almond biscuits and Quetschemännchen, edible figurines made from dried plums. Stalls here also sell a range of honey, candles and craft products. If you’re visiting on Wednesdays or Saturdays, don’t miss the tower horns that will sound from St Nicolas Church at 6pm. Weekends will see choirs taking turns to carol next to the massive Christmas tree.
Stay: Staying at Capri by Fraser, Frankfurt / Germany gives you the opportunity to enjoy everything the city has to offer while experiencing modern and contemporary living in a spacious hotel residence.
Along the shopping street Spitalerstraße and nearby Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz square is Winterwald, a winter forest in the city centre and the main Christmas market offering handicrafts, design and art-making from 25 Nov to 30 Dec. Do also check out the market at the nearby St Petri Church, the oldest surviving church in the city.
The largest city centre market is the City Hall Christmas Market on Rathausmarkt Square running from 25 Nov to 23 Dec. The City Hall makes a wonderful backdrop while you browse the decorated stalls selling handmade toys, jewellery and a large variety of international delicacies. Do look up as Santa Claus regularly makes his appearance, hovering above the market in his sleigh.
The Christmas market at St. Michael’s church is the oldest in the Hanseatic city of Hamburg. One of the most notable Hamburg attractions and an iconic city landmark, the church plays host to this lesser-known market in its historic crypt, church square and parish hall on the first Advent weekend (29 Nov – 1 Dec). Expect more than 100 exhibitors offering handicrafts, fashion, jewellery and Christmas decorations.
There are two Maritime Christmas Markets at Speicherstadt and HafenCity. The Speicherstadt market (25 Nov – 23 Dec) is at Fleetinsel near St. Michael’s Church, while the HafenCity Christmas market (25 Nov – 30 Dec; closed 24 & 25 Dec) can be found at Überseequartier, a trendy neighbourhood where modern architecture meets old-fashioned winter cheer. There’s even an ice-skating rink too!
The fairy tale-like Bergedorf Castle Christmas Market has cosy drink booths, Christmas trees and plenty of fun activities for kids from 25 Nov to 30 Dec (closed 24-26 Dec). This market at Hamburg’s last remaining castle has stalls selling handmade gifts and bands play Christmas songs on the weekends.
Stay: After visiting some of the 30-odd Christmas markets in Hamburg, rest for the day at Fraser Suites Hamburg. A 5-star hotel occupying the historic Oberfinanzdirektion in one of the most prestigious areas of the city, this is a luxury accommodation experience you won’t find anywhere else in Hamburg.
Traditional but reinterpreted for Geneva, the Noël aux Bastions Christmas Market transforms one of the city’s most beautiful parks, the Bastions Park, into a magical Christmas village from 4 to 31 Dec. The illuminated path leads you to the heart of the village where you can enjoy a lobster roll or if you manage to snag a reservation, fondue at Le Chalet. Families will appreciate the ice rink and activities in the Children’s Pavilion.
The annual Carouge Christmas market is held in the traditional Italian part of the city, known for its exclusive and bohemian boutiques, good vibe and great choice of restaurants. The 180 shops here open for the four Sundays before Christmas and the market offers upmarket handmade crafts, stylish scarves, hats and jewellery, decorations and treats. You will find the market stalls and entertainment at Rue Saint-Joseph, Place du Marché and the surrounding areas.
Marché de Noël des Pâquis by non-profit association Maison de Quartier also returns this year with a free weekend entertainment programme from 22-24 Dec. Expect concerts, storytelling and children’s crafts all happening while overlooking the iconic Jet d’eau fountain in Lake Geneva.
Stay: In the heart of the city and close to Jet d’eau fountain, Fraser Suites Geneva offers 67 Gold-Standard fully-furnished luxury serviced apartments.
Barcelona’s main Christmas fair dates back to around 1786. Held from 29 Nov to 23 Dec, La Fira de Santa Llúcia is held in front of the city’s imposing Gothic Avinguda de la Catedral, a short 10-minute walk away from one of the must-visit local markets, Mercat de la Bouqueria. There are Christmas trees for sale as well as lots of festive decorations such as baubles, wreaths and mistletoe. Expect some intriguing Christmas displays as well as unique Catalan festive traditions happening around the market too.
Since 1960, Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Familia is set up yearly without fail in front of Gaudí’s masterpiece for a month (29 Nov – 23 Dec). Expect 120 stalls selling festive food like nougat and dried fruits and occasional appearances by Father Christmas to collect letters from children and hand out sweets.
The Fira del Gall (Rooster Fair) in Vilafranca del Penedès revolves around the 17th-century production process behind Gallo Negro (black rooster)—from ageing it to tasting it. The fair also includes a poultry market, tasting of Penedès wines and a gastronomic area serving poultry dishes and red wines. Don’t miss this if you’re visiting in December—the fair only runs on the weekend of 21-22 Dec.
Stay: Capri by Fraser, Barcelona / Spain is in the fashionable 22@ business district within the Sant Martí area of the city. This refreshing hotel residence is just a 15-minute walk from the beach and 10 minutes by car to the Sagrada Familia.
This time of the year is where you’ll find around 20 Christmas markets (marchés de Noel) and weekend pop-up markets across Paris. Village de Noël at La Défense is the largest Christmas market in the entire Île-de-France region. Over 300 chalet stalls offer everything from artisanal and regional products to toys and even fresh oysters from 21 Nov to 28 Dec. In the surreal setting of illuminated high-rise buildings and the looming white structure of the Grande Arche de la Défense, you will need many hours to explore it all.
One of Paris’s most picturesque Christmas markets, the Marché de Noel Notre Dame sits across the Seine river from the famed Notre Dame Cathedral. Stalls surround the large Christmas tree, offering locally made art and crafts, clothing and accessories. Santa Claus (Père Noël) is known to make frequent appearances too. The market is open from 13 to 29 Dec.
Late November is where the beautiful Tuileries Garden by the Louvre transforms into a bustling market. Previously known as the Chaps-Elysees Christmas Market, today’s La Magie de Noel features over 100 stalls carrying French produce, as well as several carnival rides and an outdoor skating rink. Be sure to visit from 24 Nov to 6 Jan 2020.
Marché de Noël Canopée is one of the newest Christmas markets in Paris, but also one of the largest. The second edition will see a tightly-curated collection of exhibitors showcasing artisanal, local products surrounding a 20-metre-high Christmas tree. There are 75 exhibitors under the Halles Canopy with a 20-metre-high Christmas tree. The market runs from 14 Nov to 29 Dec.
Stay: Perfect for Village de Noël at La Défense, the luxury serviced apartments at Fraser Suites Harmonie, Paris La Defense include balcony views of La Défense and Montmartre. Fraser Suites Le Claridge Champs-Élysées is ideally located for La Magie de Noel and thereafter, an evening stroll along the romantic Avenue des Champs-Élysées.