15 Christmas Markets Around the World (Slideshow)
December 10, 2013
Get into the holiday spirit at one of these 15 Christmas markets around the globe
Christkindlesmarkt — Nuremberg, Germany
One of the oldest and most notable Christmas markets in the world, the Christkindlesmarkt is an ethereal event for both kids and adults. Young ones can bask in the wonder of the Christmas City at the Hans-Sachs-Platz where they can ride the Ferris wheel and write wish lists to the Christkind; after that, they can frolic at the Sternenhaus (located in the newly refurbished Heilig-Geist-Saal) and listen to an array of holiday stories. Grown-ups will also have childlike awe coursing through them as they pass by the twinkling, tinsel-decked trees, wooden nutcrackers and ornate, handmade ornaments, and the scent of gingerbread cookies (and the effects of mulled wine) will further fuel the fervor.
Christmas Market at Old Port Market — Quebec City
During the holiday season, Le Marché du Vieux-Port is home to thousands of gifts, ornaments, and home decorations amid the Old World splendor of beautiful Quebec City, making it the perfect place to explore, shop, and stimulate your senses. The selection of gourmet snacks will overwhelm you, so opt for cheesy poutine to warm your insides if the weather is extra-frigid — and to make decision-making especially easy.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland — London
London gets a North Pole makeover during the holiday season when it transform into this surreal snow-asis, featuring exhilarating rides (the Winter Wonderland Express, Star Flyer, and three roller coasters, to name a few), ice-skating, and a Christmas circus. Experience the best views of the U.K.’s capital on the nearly 200-foot-tall Giant Observation Wheel, and get your grub on with beer and bratwurst at the Bavarian Village and a number of bars, including the Carousel Bar, Nordic Bar, Mirror Bar, and the Après ski bar.
Columbus Circle Holiday Market — New York City
Situated at the southwest corner of Central Park, the Columbus Circle Holiday Market runs from Dec. 3 through Dec. 24 and features scores of vendors hawking arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry, and handmade ornaments. There are food and drink vendors galore, as well, offering Korean barbecue, Sicilian rice balls, and hot apple cider. The same producers also handle the Union Square Holiday Market a short distance downtown.
German Christmas Market — Sapporo, Japan
Sapporo and Munich are sister cities, and to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their relationship, the city of Sapporo began hosting this annual holiday celebration. Vendors, working from German-style booths, peddle everything you need for Christmas, from glass and wood ornaments to candles, postcards made by local artists, and hand-crafted teddy bears. There will be mulled wine and roasted almonds done in traditional German fashion, along with lots of Bavarian beer and truckloads of the local elixir of inebriation, Sapporo rice lager.
Christmas Market — Vancouver, Canada
This homage to German Christmas markets of yesteryear plays up the décor with rows of wooden huts adorned with white light ropes and aromatic pine branches. Each hut offers visitors a chance to sample authentic Bavarian edibles and libations, including Feuerzangenbowle (a beverage in which sugar cubes are flambéed with rum and mixed with mulled wine), cakes and cookies from Sven’s Bakery, and cherry-topped waffles from Das Wafflehaus.
Various Christmas Markets — Berlin
Berlin plays host to more than 60 Christmas markets, about 12 of which are multi-week events throughout the Advent season. These events date back to the early 1500s and have always been places where artisans sell everything you could ever need for the holidays. From the market in Spandau old town (the largest in town) with more than 400 stalls and a church more than 800 years old to the one in Rixdorf that’s known for wood, metal, and ceramic wares, you’ll be able to experience Christmas like never before in this spirited city.
Christkindlmarket — Chicago
Held outdoors on Daley Plaza at The Loop, this free event showcases Chicago’s German heritage with an array of culinary delicacies and a Christkind wandering the grounds telling Christmas stories. Feasting is mandatory, with excessive amounts of sweet and savory wares for sale. And, your ears are in for a treat, as well, with string bands and brass quarters, along with children’s choirs, performing throughout the season.
Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market — Toronto
The sounds of children’s choirs and carolers can be heard throughout this Canadian Christmas market, whose organizers strive to keep true to centuries-old European traditions. On top of romantic lighting and an enormous, lit-up tree, the market boasts a number of garden spaces where visitors can relax with a glass of mulled wine, local beer, or a hot rum-based beverage. Dec. 15 marks the final day, when you can catch the Mill Street World Caroling Challenge in the Distillery District.
Christmas Village — Philadelphia
Love Park at JFK Plaza will be home to this holiday bash that runs until New Year’s Day. Even though the village is molded after traditional German Christmas markets, you’ll find artwork and ornaments aplenty from across the world, including Turkish mosaic lamps, Indian table runners, Egyptian frames and perfume bottles, and Nicaraguan pottery. Don’t miss Philly’s flavorful finds, The Bacon Jams and Wandering Waffle.
Christmas in Tivoli Gardens — Copenhagen, Denmark
The Christmas market at Tivoli Gardens is where Copenhageners go to cope with cold winter weather with hot drinks, and to hang out during the holidays among festive lights, Nordic décor, and even live reindeer. More than 50 stalls serve Scandinavian sweets and savory snacks, along with handmade gifts and ornaments. The Russian basilica is the main attraction (although, for the children, it could also be the 28 Christmas rides...), with nine onion-shaped domes in assorted colors and patterns and a decked-out Christmas tree. And, from Dec. 26 to 30, each night will end with a fireworks display.
Christmas Market — Brussels
The Brussels Christmas market has more than 1 mile of shops, stalls, and chalets with gifts, food and drinks, ornaments, and artisanal arts and crafts. This year, with help from the Montreux Noël team (who worked on a very successful holiday market in Switzerland for two decades), the market is equipped with an authentic Swiss chalet serving culinary delicacies from Switzerland (think fondues and expertly paired wines from the Lavaux and Fendant regions), and the Rue Devaux will be a big part of the action, hosting a number of participating shops, vendors, and outdoor eating areas.
Fira de Santa Llúcia — Barcelona, Spain
Dating back to 1786, the Fira is still going strong in the 21st century, with more than 280 stalls selling everything you need to decorate your home for the holidays and enough gifts for your entire family, extended included. Some of the best Spanish nativity scene and figure artists display and sell their wares in front of the Pla de la Seu, and there are additional sections for greenery and plants (where you’ll find moss, eucalyptus branches, artificial trees, and natural cork), crafts (including jewelry, accessories, and housewares), and simbombes (tambourines and other musical instruments to add some funky beats to your revelry).
Christmas Market — Bolzano, Italy
Bolzano is situated in northern Italy on the south side of the alps, and it turns into a spectacle of romantic, snowy splendor come holiday time with the nation’s largest Christmas market. The Piazza Walther supplies the magical setting, bathed in orange light from candles and lamps, and scented with cinnamon, mulled wine, and woodsy aromas. The market’s theme in 2013 is "Meeting of Cultures," so expect to see handmade gifts, foods, and beverages representing countries across the globe. For the little ones, there are pony rides, puppet shows, and an incandescent carousel.
Colmar Christmas Market — Alsace, France
Colmar is one of the most charming Alsatian towns, full of crooked houses set on crooked lanes. Its Christmas market is divided into five venues, each offering an abundance of activities and entertainment for guests of all ages. The children’s section is in Petite Venise and is highlighted by a wooden horse merry-go-round, an animated nativity scene, and a giant letterbox for kids to put their letters to Santa. Adults can enjoy markets at the Place de Dominicains, with 65 stalls augmented by lights around the stained-glass windows of a 14th-century Dominican church; the Place Jeanne d’Arc, loaded with local culinary delights; Place de l’Ancienne Douane, with 50 stalls surrounding the Schwendi Fountain; and at the covered market of the Koïfhus, located in a 14th- and 15-century structure that was used as a trading post, that features antiques, wood sculptures, cabinet-makers, hatters, jewelers, and old book sellers.