Spotlight on… Christmas markets

Christmas markets have always been popular, but they are more widespread than ever right now, popping up across the UK and Europe.

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year (hence choosing a 2014 Christmas wedding. Eek!). I’ve travelled to many Christmas markets over the years and this year is no exception. Staying on home turf, I’m heading to Leeds. Previous years, however, have included the delights of Lille, Paris, Berlin, London and beyond. I truly love them!

So grab your faux fur Cossack hat and start planning your break away. Be it a serious shopping weekend with the girls or a romantic break with the other half, there are plenty of hidden gems to discover.

Berlin

21 November – 31 December

french dome and christmas market in berlin germanyBerlin is a stunning city with lots to offer as well as its amazing markets.

The most famous market is the Kaiser Wilhelm Market in the main square. I can highly recommend the mulled wine here. Be careful though, they often add a shot of liquor which certainly warms your cockles!

Potsdamer Platz has an amazing 500 stalls plus an ice rink and toboggan run.

Being a lover of anything vintage, I can certainly recommend Humana – these stores can also be found in Koln and Hamburg and are perfect for a good rummage. Lots of shopping on offer, but of course don’t miss out on Brandenburg Gate, The Wall and the Jewish Museum.

Brussels

30 November – 6 January

Brussels Christmas MarketChristmas is celebrated twice in Belgium. Once on 6 December for St. Nicholas’ Day, and again on Christmas Day. They love a good celebration!

The Winter Wonders market stretches for over a mile between the Place Sainte Catherine to Grand Place and has about 240 market stalls selling crafts, decorations and ornaments.

There are also many tempting food stalls selling pots of moules frites, chocolate-covered waffles and sugared doughnuts – all so yummy! Be sure to wash it all down with a bottle of famous Belgium beer.

London

11 November – 4 January

Winter Wonderland in LondonThe Christmas markets of London are a great place to find beautiful and unique gifts, including jewellery, fashion and toys. Carol singing, fairground rides… you name it, London really does have it.

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is huge, with its ice rink, log cabins and delicious aromas of food and spiced wine in the air.

It gets very busy here though, so I would recommend booking if you intend to ice skate. With its huge observation wheel and rides, it’s a real family favourite.

Covent Garden, London at ChristmasAnother must see is Winterville at Victoria Park. This is a themed adventure park and again is great for the family.

If you like something a little smaller and unique take the time to check out: Christmas Fair at Chelsea Physic Garden, Hyper Japan Christmas Market at Olympia, Southbank Centre Christmas Market or More London Christmas Market at the Scoop.

So much to choose from…

Prague

26 November – 6 January

Christmas market in PragueThere are two main markets in Prague. The first is in the Old Town Square, where you’ll see one of Europe’s largest Christmas trees, which is transported from the nearby Krkonose Mountains.

The second is in Wenceslas Square, where stalls sell tubs of water filled with carp. This is the usual Christmas food in the Czech Republic instead of turkey.

The markets have a whole range of traditional food, such as hog roasts and Trdelník, a hot sugar coated pastry to keep you warm in the evenings. Yum!

Be sure to squeeze in a trip to St Vitus Cathedral where you’ll be able to get a great panoramic view of the city; head up just before sundown for a wonderful sight to remember.

Paris

18 November – 4 January

Christmas in ParisThe largest Christmas market in Paris can be found on the Champs-Elyées, one of the most, beautiful avenues in the world.

Browse through more than 100 chalets and stalls offering various French delicacies and gifts.

Stop off and enjoy something sweet in the popular Ladurée luxury bakery, where you can sample a delicious crêpe or macaroon.

Another favorite in Paris is the La Défense market, which is near the Grande Arche and boast over 350 stands. Having been to Paris three times so far, it’s certainly somewhere I would go again in a heartbeat.

Top tips

To get the best out of your experience, there are a few things to remember:

  • Book in advance to avoid missing out
  • Keep a close eye on your bag and belongings at all times
  • Wrap up warm and check the weather reports before you travel
  • Take plenty of change – stallholders often can’t change larger notes
  • Don’t forget your camera! These markets are stunning and well worth getting some pictures of.

I could talk about Christmas markets all day!

They are visually beautiful, and filled with sights, sounds and smells that you will always associate with Christmas. You can get some fantastic gifts, treat yourself to some unique items, taste the delicious local food and enjoy the fairground.

Kirsty Fisher

About Kirsty Fisher

I’m a travel counsellor with over 12 years’ experience working in the industry, in both leisure and business. I have many customers who love to cruise – visit my website to find out more.