The holidays come and there’s nothing better than spending it in one of the best Christmas markets.
Here we go: the Christmas spirit is coming again this year. And what better way to get into the magical spirit of the holidays than by visiting a traditional Christmas market? Then wear a woolly hat, put on your gloves and get on a plane to one of these magnificent destinations. If you are wondering where to go on Christmas day in 2020, don’t miss our detailed guide!
Sweden – Stortorget julmarknad
The wonderful atmosphere of the Christmas market in the
city centre of Stockholm.
Located in the heart of Stockholm’s historic centre, Stortorget julmarknad, one of the best Christmas markets on Stockholm’s main square, boasts a location that is hard to beat. Dating back to 1837, it is Sweden’s oldest Christmas market, and its 40 small red kiosks are in perfect harmony with this historic location.
Warm up with a cup of glögg (red mulled wine with an aromatic mix of spices) as you take a look at knitted goods and other local handicrafts. Don’t miss the Swedish Christmas specialties such as pepparkakor (ginger biscuits), saffransbullar (saffron sandwiches) and other typical dishes such as elk meat, smoked sausages and reindeer.
Helsinki, Finland – Helsinki Christmas Market
There’s also Santa Claus at the Helsinki Christmas
All Finnish citizens have no doubt: Santa Claus, the real one, comes from Finland. A visit to the best Christmas market in the Senate Square will allow you to meet him in person! Even during the holidays, the legendary “Santa Claus” is present every day so you can bring him your list of gifts. Once your wishes are revealed, taste a glass of glögi, a spicy mulled wine that will make you want even more Christmas 2020. If all this is not enough, the music of the brass band, the Christmas lights and a ride on the ancient carousel in the square will take care of it.
Walk through the 133 stands in search of some typical
souvenirs such as traditional decorations, local products and the famous
Finnish reindeer meat speciality.
Sibiu, Romania – Piața Mare
The magic of Christmas spirit cheers up the Romanian city of Sibiu.
Nestled between three beautiful mountain ranges, in the
majestic Piazza Grande (Piața Mare) of the historic city center, the best Christmas market in
Sibiu exudes a unique romanticism. Browse through the 70 huts that hunt for
ceramics, furs and wooden toys to pack, then visit the ice rink or amusement
park to have some fun and get your fill of Christmas spirit.
Sibiu is a sight not to be missed at any time of year, but its strategic location in the mountains of Transylvania makes it a perfect winter destination: here you will have a good chance of spending a white Christmas. Add to that a dusting of snow, maybe a gospel concert or a dream light show and voila: the perfect Christmas 2020 is all there is to it.
As tradition dictates, there’s always plenty of mulled wine,
gingerbread and roast chestnuts. But keep a clear corner for Romanian-Hungarian
specialities such as cozonac (sweet bread) and Kürtőskalács (the so-called
“sweet fireplace”), the latter introduced by the Hungarian minority
living in the region. It’s a really good Christmas!
Strasbourg, France – Christkindelsmärik
The French know how to organise one of the best Christmas markets.
One of the great classics among European Christmas markets, the Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg, also known as Marché de l’Enfant Jésus, is also one of the oldest in Europe. Dating back to 1570, today’s market is the result of centuries of practice… and you can see it! It is one of the best places to visit in December 2020.
300 wooden chalets spread over 11 themed villages in the city centre: the main market takes place on Place de la Cathédral and offers a wide range of handicrafts, decorations and seasonal delicacies. Among the inevitable Christmas specialties you can find vin chaud (mulled wine) and bredele biscuits, a local specialty available in different flavors, such as hazelnut, orange, cinnamon or praline. Other culinary wonders include choucroute (pickled cabbage) and baeckeoffe stew. Bon appétit!
Toronto, Canada – Toronto Christmas Market
Christmas with the gentle Canadian touch in Toronto’s
Europe is the queen of the best Christmas markets but with mulled wine you’ll want to try something different too! Go against the tide and visit Toronto’s Distillery District to discover Canada’s interpretation of Christmas. The cobblestone streets and brick facades of the factories create a fascinating historical setting, while the glittering lights, wooden kiosks and life-sized marzipan house infuse the true spirit of Christmas 2020.
Arrive early, before the market is stormed by the crowds, and head straight for the food stands. You’ll find everything from German bratwurst to Belgian waffles, but the real highlight is poutine, one of Canada’s most delicious throat sins: a mix of French fries, meat sauce and curd cheese. Before you’re tempted by maple syrup-based delicacies, take a ride in a carousel or on the Ferris wheel, waiting for your appetite to return.
Then browse the market stalls where you’ll find a wide
range of special gifts, such as Canadian beeswax candles, wooden toys and
even… bacon stockings (no comment). Once you’ve purchased your Christmas
gifts, take advantage of free wine, liquor and beer tastings. After all, you’re
in the Distillery District!
Dresden Christmas Market, Germany – Dresdner
The Striezelmarkt in Dresden is the oldest Christmas
market in Germany.
Dresden’s oldest Christmas market, the Dresden Christmas Market, has been a success for almost 600 years! The region’s craftsmen occupy its 250 stands offering a wide variety of products, from nutcrackers and wooden ornaments to traditional pyramid candles. The Striezelmarkt has the world’s largest Christmas arch and includes a children’s area with puppet theatre, carousel and train for the little ones.
The name of the market comes from Strüzel or Stroczel, a fruit cake sold at the market and now known as “Stollen”. Other sweet and savoury delicacies include the famous Glühwein (mulled wine) and Pulsnitzer Pfefferkuchen (gingerbread stuffed with jam and covered in chocolate). Try the Dresden Rahmklecks (freshly baked bread stuffed with cheese) and don’t miss out on all the best-known German specialities, such as bratwurst and pretzel. Guten Appetit!
Copenhagen, Denmark – Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli is the ideal “where to go on Christmas
day” to discover the
best Christmas market in Copenhagen.
In the apotheosis of the Danish concept of “hygge” (seeking comfort), Copenhagen’s traditional Christmas market takes place in the world’s second oldest playground, Tivoli. Here you’ll find endless rows of Christmas trees lit by thousands of lights and you’ll be inebriated by the aromatic scent of toasted almonds. A frozen lake that has been transformed into a skating rink for a fairytale Christmas.
Read also: Things to do in Denmark
Check out the stalls selling handmade art and crafts, glõgg (mulled wine) at will and enjoy a handful of æbleskiver (pancake treats) with sugar and jam to complete your Christmas 2020 adventure in Denmark. Keep a nook and cranny for the typical pork roast sandwiches with red cabbage from Tivoli, before taking a ride on The Star Flyer, an 80-metre-high carousel from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of Copenhagen. In Denmark you can also visit one of the best music festivals – Roskilde Festival.
Moscow, Russia – Red Square
The Christmas market on Moscow’s Red Square is an
experience not to be missed.
Against the backdrop of the majestic St Basil’s
Cathedral, surrounded by the imposing walls of the Kremlin, the Christmas fair
on Moscow’s Red Square boasts a truly extraordinary setting.
The market itself has only about twenty stands where you can buy Christmas decorations and local souvenirs, such as handmade nesting dolls and other toys painted according to the Khokhloma tradition. The market is built around one of Moscow’s largest ice rinks and there is also a small amusement park for the little ones to enjoy.
When hunger starts to feel, visit the food stands to try traditional Russian dishes such as roast potatoes with mushrooms and pickles or pancakes with caviar. Finish off with the inevitable Christmas pairing: mulled wine and Russian gingerbread. The Russians celebrate Christmas on 7 January and, in line with the tradition of Orthodox Christmas, the market only ends at the end of January… The perfect excuse for endless holidays!
Chicago, USA – Christkindlmarket
to go on Christmas day outside Europe? Try the Christkindlmarket in Chicago.
Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Chicago has really gone to great lengths to replicate a typical German Christmas market. Located in Daley Plaza in central Chicago, it is the best Christmas market in the United States. Hundreds of red and white striped kiosks, in the style of typical Christmas candy canes, offer classic German products such as nutcrackers and Black Forest cuckoo cloaks, but also Ecuadorian capes and a wide range of handmade gifts.
The stars of the show, however, are the food stands. Be
sure to try Bavarian winter specialities such as bratwurst (sausages),
sauerkraut (sauerkraut), goulash (soup) and schnitzel (cutlets). Finished in
beauty with cooked apples, delicious pretzels and, of course, the Glühwein, the
inevitable spicy mulled wine served in an unparalleled boot-shaped cup, a
tribute to Santa’s boots.
Salzburg, Austria – Christkindlmarkt
The Salzburg Christmas Market is located in the
magnificent Residenzplatz square.
Overlooked by an imposing church, against the backdrop of a medieval castle on top of a hill, the Salzburg Christmas Market is the apotheosis of romance. Its 95 stands are divided into six sections where you can buy everything from flowers and textiles to toys, handicrafts and glittering ornaments.
Follow your nose and you’ll find the gastronomic section,
soaked in the aroma of gebrannten Mandeln (toasted almonds), the typical scent
of Christkindlmarkt. It is impossible not to taste the Glühwein (yes, the
ubiquitous mulled wine), perfect to accompany roasted chestnuts, Bratapfel
(freshly cooked apples) and gingerbread hearts. One delicacy pulls the other,
but after all it’s Christmas
Prague, Czech Republic – Old Town Square
Prague’s most enchanting Christmas market takes place on
the Old Town Square.
What to see in Prague? When it comes to best Christmas markets, the Czech capital is unrivaled! The whole city is overflowing with markets and Christmas spirit, but the best is in the heart of the old town. Here, the pretty wooden huts that surround the huge Christmas tree sell a multitude of souvenirs, including of course jewelry, candles, crystals, glassware and wooden toys. The food stands offer traditional Czech food, such as blood sausage and grilled pork, as well as a selection of local Christmas specialties. Enjoy a sip of medovina, a refreshing honey wine also known as “mead”.
Brussels, Belgium – Plaisirs d’Hiver
After Christmas 2020 shopping, try ice skating on Place Sainte-Catherine.
With around 240 wooden chalets stretching from Grand
Place to Place Sainte-Catherine, Brussels’ Plaisirs d’Hiver Christmas Market
will keep you busy for hours. There are handmade candles, toys, leather goods
and Christmas trinkets to go, but the real attraction is traditional Belgian
food: chocolate waffles, mussels, homemade sausages, cheeses, bread… not to
mention typical Belgian fries!
Accompany it all with a beer of excellent quality and, of
course, try the local version of mulled wine: Vin Chaud. A breakout like this
might make you want to take a nap, but try to resist: you won’t want to give up
the Ferris wheel, the steam carousel and the giant slides!
Manchester, England – Albert Square
Want an English Christmas 2020? Here are the special markets in
Although the best Christmas markets are a product of continental Europe, in recent years Britain has worked hard not to be outdone and the Manchester market, around Albert Square, is an experience not to be missed. With 300 stands divided into different sections (a world market, a French market, a German market and a family market with an ice-skating rink in Cathedral Gardens), you won’t be bored.
Here you’ll find everything from handicrafts to
specialties from all over Europe, but the food stands are the ones that go the
extra mile. With a wide international selection, you can choose from Bavarian
strudel (the famous puff pastry dessert filled with fruit), French crêpes,
German Flammkuchen (a kind of pizza with cheese and cold cuts) or a simple
grilled cheese sandwich, in the true Manchester style. Enjoy!
Riga, Latvia – The Old Town
The Riga Christmas Market is located in a UNESCO World
The main Christmas market in the Latvian capital seems to
have come out of a fairytale book. Located in the Cathedral Square, in the
heart of Riga’s old town, this market is an art nouveau pearl listed as a
UNESCO World Heritage Site and overflows with local handicrafts: Latvian wooden
candlesticks, wax candles and knitted winter clothing, to name but a few.
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Warm up with mulled wine while munching on toasted
almonds or iced gingerbread. Make sure you try the local smoked meats and take
home a jar of Latvian honey, a well-known speciality.
Nuremberg, Germany – Christkindlesmarkt
The Christkindlesmarkt market in Nuremberg welcomes two
million visitors a year!
The Nuremberg Christmas Market dates back to the 17th century and, with 180 red and white striped stands around the main square in the city’s historic centre, is one of the largest in Germany. In Nuremberg, tradition and innovation go hand in hand with the new blueberry mulled wine, the Heidelbeer Glühwein, alongside traditional specialities such as the Nürnberger Lebkuchen (chocolate covered gingerbread) and the legendary Nuremberg grilled sausages: sausages served in abundance and prepared according to a registered recipe dating back to 1497. Guten Appetit!
Madrid, Spain – Mercado de Navidad
A trip to Madrid for a colourful Christmas spirit201.
Discover Madrid’s traditional 1860 Christmas market in
the city’s main square, Plaza Mayor. Famous for the statues of the Nativity
scene in Belén (Bethlehem), its 140 stands are set up with a curious mix of
nativity scene statues and strange objects to be used on December 28th on the
occasion of the Feast of the Holy Innocents Martyrs, when the Madrileños mock
each other with a series of jokes and marches (the equivalent of the April
Naples, Italy – Via San Gregorio Armeno
Nativity scene figurines represent the nativity scene in
the Christmas market of Naples.
Something out of the ordinary: this is the fascinating Via San Gregorio Armeno in Naples that comes to life around Christmas, with its many shops set up for the sale of nativity figurines of all kinds. Customizing the crib is a local tradition and there are really no limits to the imagination: the figurines of Jesus and the Madonna are flanked by those of tiny pizza makers, exotic animals and a series of caricatures of famous people. Once you’ve put together your bizarre nativity scene, get to know Naples’ typical Christmas specialties such as roccocò biscuits, susamielli and struffoli. Enjoy your Italian adventure with your favorite Traveler Magazine in hand!