World's 10 Best Holiday Markets
November 04, 2013 4:00 pm Post a comment
Where: Nuremberg, Germany
The Christkindlesmarkt at Nuremburg is arguably the most popular European Christmas market. The market opens the Friday before the first Sunday of advent, and crowds gather to watch Christkind open the festivities. More than 180 wooden stands shimmer with colorful Christmas lights featuring handcrafted Christmas ornaments, toys, games, and holiday treats. Visitors can enjoy cups of mulled wine and rum punch, or sample Nüremberg bratwurst and gingerbread. End the night with a carriage ride around Old Town, and take in the Christmas greens and decorations.
Insider Tip: Every year, Nuremberg schoolchildren take part in a lantern procession that passes through the market. Don't miss the event, which usually takes place the week before Christmas.
When: November 29 - December 24
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Nuremberg Guide
Where: Strasbourg, France
Known as the “Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg is home to Christkindlesmarik, France’s oldest and best Christmas market. Christkindelsmarik comprises twelve markets that are organized by product. Visitors can sample bretzels, pain d’épices, and hot spiced wine at the Alsatian food stands at Place des Meuniers, or stop by the Place de la Gare market to browse local produce and crafts. Place Kléber holds the piece de resistance: a giant Christmas tree with shimmering ornaments and lights.
Insider Tip: Visitors will find 60 small wooden huts in Place Kléber, where different organizations take donations and explain their charitable mission. In keeping with holiday spirit, many visitors leave gifts by the Christmas tree for those in need.
When: November 29 - December 31
Where to Stay: Hotel Gutenberg is steps away from the market, and faces the city’s famous cathedral. Sofitel Strasbourg, located in the center of the city, is only a short walk from the Christmas festivities.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Strasbourg Guide
Tivoli Gardens’ Christmas Market
Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen are known for amusement park rides and restaurants, but the Gardens are also home to a vibrant Christmas market. Every year in November, the park is decked with bright lights and decorations, and transformed into a Christmas village. Fifty different stalls line the park’s pathways and offer traditional Christmas products and entertainment. Guests can visit Father Christmas in his den, purchase Scandinavian knitwear and traditional Christmas tree decorations, and sample Danish holiday treats: “aebleskive,” a pan-baked doughnut, and “glögg,” a spiced wine with raisins and almonds.
Insider Tip: Many restaurants in Tivoli offer traditional Danish “julefrokost,” or Christmas lunch. The holiday feast includes pickled herring, meatballs, roast pork, fried duck, cheese, and rice pudding. Visitors won’t walk away hungry.
When: November 15 - December 31
Where to Stay: For warm Danish hospitality and an upscale atmosphere, check into Hotel Tiffany. The hotel is located near Tivoli Gardens and the city’s shopping district.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Copenhagen Guide
Fira de Santa Llucia
Where: Barcelona, Spain
It's easy to deck the halls in Barcelona at the Fira de Santa Llucia. The market offers more than 280 stands with artisanal Christmas wares and decorations. Stands are divided into four sections: nativities and figures, greenery and plants, crafts, and simbombes (traditional instruments used for caroling). Products include handmade clothing and jewelry, natural Christmas trees, nativity scenes, and handcrafted Christmas decorations. Visitors can take a break from holiday shopping by listening to Scandinavian choir music, or watching Catalan dance performances.
Insider Tip: One of the best days to visit the market is on the Day of Santa Llucia, December 13. On this day, the market features traditional Christmas activities such as storytelling, caroling, dance performances, and a parade.
When: November 30 - December 23
Where to Stay: The market is located near Barcelona Cathedral, and Hotel Barcelona Catedral is the perfect place to stay after a day of shopping and entertainment. Also nearby is the Hotel Catalonia Catedral, a centrally located property near all the city’s main attractions.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Barcelona Guide
Toronto Christmas Market
Where: Toronto, Canada
The Toronto Christmas Market combines old world charm with modern-day holiday attractions. Hosted in the city’s Distillery Historic District, the market features festive lighting and décor, and musical performances from carolers and Bavarian brass bands. The market’s beer gardens and hospitality lounges are especially popular, as guests can warm up with beer, mulled wine, or hot rum drinks. Visitors can also browse through local, handcrafted products and check out the market’s giant Christmas tree. Those with a competitive spirit can take part in the World Caroling Challenge, a group performance of some of the most well known Christmas tunes.
When: November 29 - December 15
Where to Stay: Many hotels offer discounted rates for guests who attend the Christmas market, including The Westin Harbour Castle and The Omni King Edward Hotel. The hotels are both located in downtown Toronto with easy access to the market.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Toronto Guide
Where: Vienna, Austria
Visitors will feel like they’ve stepped into a fairytale at Vienna's Christmas markets. The city transforms its most popular squares into colorful Christmas villages, where guests can shop, eat and explore to their heart’s content. Rathausplatz offers more than 150 stands with Christmas decorations, sweets, and hot brandied punch. The Old Viennese Christmas Market on Freyung features handmade crafts, cribs, and ceramics. Guests can enjoy choral performances, or ride the Christkindl Express, a train through the city’s winter wonderlands.
Insider Tip: Don’t miss Vienna’s city hall: Located near Rathausplatz, the hall becomes a giant advent calendar during the holiday season.
When: The dates of each market vary, but most run from mid-November to December 26.
Where to Stay: Most hotels in Vienna’s city center are within walking distance of the markets. Fleming’s Deluxe Hotel Wien-City is located behind Town Hall, and Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof is just steps away from the city’s Imperial Palace.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Vienna Guide
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Every year around Thanksgiving, LOVE Park in Philadelphia’s Center City transforms into a bustling Christmas Village. Modeled after traditional German Christmas markets, Christmas Village features more than 60 wooden booths with international crafts, gifts, and traditional European food and drink. Visitors can enjoy popular holiday treats like gingerbread, waffles, and crepes, and sip on mulled wine or hot chocolate. The market also includes live glassblowing demonstrations, live performances by local artists, and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
Insider Tip: Try to catch the village’s opening ceremony, which features the Christkind from Nüremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt.
When: November 28 - January 1, 2014
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Philadelphia Guide
Manchester Christmas Markets
Where: Manchester, England
Presenting a melting pot of Christmas tradition, the Manchester Christmas Markets are divided into nine sites, and more than 300 stalls featuring a wide variety of local and European products. Vendors offer everything from handcrafted leather bags to specialty jams, chutneys, and liqueurs. Visitors can also enjoy delicacies inspired by different countries, including Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella, or Dutch mini-pancakes, or stay warm with cups of glüwein, Spanish beer, and French-style hot chocolate.
Insider Tip: Consider bringing your own mug: All drinks at the market come in returnable glasses and mugs as a part of a new, environment-friendly program.
When: November 15 - December 22.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Manchester Guide
Tallinn Christmas Market
Where: Tallinn, Estonia
Enter a true “Winter Wonderland” at the Tallinn Christmas Market. Set in Tallinn’s picturesque Town Hall Square, the market features illuminated snow sculptures, a large Christmas tree, and glittering Christmas decorations and lights. Small chalets throughout the market sell handcrafted products, and local caterers offer authentic Estonian cuisine. Visitors can sample everything from black blood pudding and sour cabbage, to gingerbread. The market also hosts several different holiday-themed contests, including one for gingerbread making and Christmas tree decorating.
Insider Tip: Although the market is open until 7 p.m., hot Christmas drinks are served until 11 p.m. each evening.
When: November 22 - January 8, 2014.
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Inspired by Nüremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt, Chicago’s Christkindlmarket offers traditional German products and authentic holiday spirit. The market has crafts from local and international vendors, and visitors can sample a variety of German holiday treats including baked apples, stolen, roasted nuts, potato pancakes, and schnitzel. Popular events include a traditional Christmas lantern procession, choral and brass band performances, and a tree lighting parade.
Insider Tip: Weekends and nights at the market mean large crowds, so consider visiting the market on a weekday.
When: November 26 - December 24
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Chicago Guide