3 of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Christmas brings to mind trees dotted with twinkling fairy lights, hot toddies on cold nights, baked treats with warm spices, familiar carols wafting through the air, and merry spirits all around. To find all of these things together, head to one of Europe’s famous Christmas markets. Originally a German tradition, Christmas markets have spread throughout Europe, and most major cities have their own version.
Despite the common origins, every Christmas market has its own specialties and unique atmosphere. There are hundreds to choose from, so we whittled it down to a selection of three of the very best.
Treat yourself to a festive winter break this year and book a flight from Birmingham Airport to one of these Christmas markets today!
The largest and most popular markets are on the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Old Town Square Christmas market is located right in the centre of Old Town Square, sprawled around the Jan Hus Memorial in front of the Astronomical Clock. The huge, real tree is the centrepiece of the market and stands in front of the Church of Tyn where you can get some incredible photos. The tree is decorated beautifully with lights and really comes to life at night time, when you can see it in all its lit-up glory.
Located just a short walk from the markets in Old Town Square, the Prague Christmas market in Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) is another popular market. Popular food on offer includes: large hams roasted (Pražská Šunka); tasty barbequed sausages (klobása); Hungarian flatbread topped with garlic, cheese and ketchup (langoš); pancakes (palačinky); and a variety of sweets and cakes, such as hot sugar-coated pastry (trdelník) or spicy gingerbread.
Dates: Old Town Square market runs from 1 December 2019 – 6 January 2020, Wenceslas Square market runs from 1 December 2019 –6 January 2020.
Take a short flight from Birmingham Airport with Jet2.com and enjoy the magic of Christmas in Prague.
The Christmas market in Vörösmarty Square is Budapest’s oldest and biggest Christmas market. Located in the city centre, this market has a reputation for being both lively and affordable. Unlike many other Christmas markets, Vörösmarty Square has strict rules requiring that all products have the official seal of approval from the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists, meaning that the level of quality is especially high. Handmade Christmas ornaments, fragrant pomander balls of orange and clove, woollen hats and gloves, sheepskin coats, and colourful leather bags are all sold here. Free concerts fill the square with music and folk storytelling, completing the festive atmosphere.
For a smaller, lesser known market, visit the Advent Fair in Óbuda where you will find lots of locals but few tourists. This neighbourhood has beautiful cobblestone streets and renovated baroque buildings, giving it a charming small-town feel. The whole community comes together for the Christmas market, with an illuminated outdoor ice rink, a children’s petting zoo and a whole range of handcrafted goods.
The typical Christmas market food is abundantly present – mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, grilled meats. But don’t limit yourself; try some of the delicious local fare, such as töki pompos, a savoury-topped bread. For a sweet treat, taste the chimney cake (kürtőskalács), a caramel-crusted pastry rolled in walnuts, cinnamon or coconut. Or get the special Christmas sweets – beigli, a poppy seed or walnut roll, and szaloncukor, a chocolate-covered fondant wrapped in foil that doubles as a Christmas tree decoration.
Dates: Vörösmarty Square Winter Festival runs from early November until the 1st January. The Advent Fair in Óbuda will run from 29 November - 22 December 2019.
Fly from Birmingham Airport to Budapest with Wizz Air or Jet2.com this winter.
Photo: Mark Mervai
Copenhagen’s famous Christmas market at Tivoli Gardens is a majestic affair. Having the second oldest amusement park in the world as its setting gives this Christmas market a distinct old-world feel. There are hundreds of thousands of tiny lights festooning every part of the park, breath-taking water and lights show to a Tchaikovsky soundtrack, a village of tiny wood cottages decorated with garlands, a candlelit Japanese pagoda and a 100-year-old wooden rollercoaster stretching into the sky. Perhaps more than any other Christmas market, Copenhagen’s is a visual feast.
Skating on an outdoor ice rink, chatting with Santa, playing with real reindeer, finding the perfect Christmas gifts, watching fireworks burst into the sky – you can do all this and more at the Tivoli Gardens Christmas market. Of course, as one would expect with an amusement park, there are also many rides to enjoy with names like The Demon and The Flying Trunk. For food, the list of treats is endless: æbleskiver (iced doughnuts with black currant jam) gløgg (hot mulled red wine rich with fruit, almonds, cinnamon and cloves), pølsers (Danish hot dogs), roast pork sandwiches and wienerbrød or Vienna bread (what Danish pastries are called in Denmark).
For something a bit different, visit Royal Copenhagen’s flagship store to see the popular Christmas Tables exhibition. Started in 1963, it features six elaborately set tables created by various Danish artists and celebrities. You can also check out the Asian-bazaar themed Christmas market in Freetown Christiania or the waterside Christmas market in picturesque Nyhavn harbour.
Dates: Tivoli Gardens will open again 16 November 2019 – 5 January 2019.
SAS fly from Birmingham Airport daily over the winter period so you can experience the charming Christmas market in Copenhagen.