Baked goods, mulled wine and the warm, fuzzy feeling of festive cheer; with Christmas just around the corner, Europe offers a spectacular selection of magical Christmas market wonderlands. It’s time to take your eyes away from the revision books and check out The Student‘s five favourite European Christmas markets of 2018.
23rd November – 30th December 2018
Nestled on the banks of the River Ill, in north-eastern France, Strasbourg is home to one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets with stalls first appearing in 1570.
Known as the ‘Capital of Christmas’, Strasbourg offers three different markets: ‘A Magical Christmas’ which delivers twinkling lights, heavenly choirs and delicately crafted decorations; ‘An Alternative Christmas’ which promotes mindful consumptions through recycling and exchanging fair-trade, original gifts; and ‘A Secret Christmas’ which provides an intimate atmosphere as visitors weave through alleys and courtyards, unveiling the quieter Saint-Etienne district.
With the markets, great Christmas tree and the living nativity, Strasbourg offer the perfect destination for a magical Christmas experience.
30th November – 24th December 2018
The home of glühwein and bratwurst, our list would not be complete without the inclusion of a German market. With over 2,500 contemporary and traditional Christmas markets scattered across the country, the air carries the sweet scent of chestnuts and gingerbread.
This year, Nuremberg’s ‘Christkindlemarkt’ is The Student‘s favourite German market. Stalls go through a rigorous approval process each year, leaving only the highest quality gifts and ornaments available for purchase.
Spot the young Christkindl – the traditional gift giver at Christmas time – wandering the markets in her long white dress as you take a horse and cart ride around the cobbled streets.
November 17th – 26th December 2018
The Austrian capital opened its first Christmas stalls in 1298. Now, over 700 years later, Vienna is one of the most dazzling festive cities, boasting over 20 different markets.
From the ‘Viennese Dream Christmas Market’ in front of the city hall to the ‘Christmas Village’ at Belvedere Palace, the stunning backdrops and twinkling lights ass so much to Vienna’s Christmas charm.
For a less traditional experience, check out the gospel choirs scattered on street corners or try your hand at curling on the pop-up ice rink.
1st December – 6th January 2019
Perhaps better known for its Mediterranean climate and lifestyle, Zagreb’s Christmas market has soared in popularity in the last five years – and it’s easy to see why!
With the city’s fountains spectacularly lit up with festive lights and magical lantern dangling from trees, embark on the ‘Zagreb Be There – Advent Path’ or take a ride on the ‘Jolly Christmas Tram’ with Santa and his elves.
End your evening at the ‘fuliranje’ or ‘fooling around’ area; dedicated to winding-down, dancing in the streets and eating and drinking to your heart’s contents, this is one stop that simply cannot be missed!
24th November – 5th January 2019
Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, is considered to host Europe’s prettiest Christmas market. Set against the medieval backdrop of cobblestone streets and high city walls, small wooden huts sell local wreaths, traditional cuisines, and sheepskin rugs to ward off the icy chill.
Among illuminated ice sculptures, dance troupes and musicians fill the streets with cultural charm. Adding to the festive magic, Tallinn’s Christmas market has spent the last 16 years blanketed in snow- be sure to pay it a visit for the perfect winter wonderland.
Image: Hazel Laing