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Trip Report: Christmas markets after Christmas

Trip Report: Christmas markets after Christmas

Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 08:55 AM
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Trip Report: Christmas markets after Christmas

Hi there: I have wanted to visit the European Christmas Markets for YEARS. I have always heard that you should do these before Christmas as most shut down shortly after or are open but not that festive. I have two kids in school (15 yo and 9 yo) and their school holiday schedule has never allowed us to be in Europe before Christmas. This year, I decided to finally take the risk and just do it even if we did get there after Christmas. It was totally worth it! And hopefully this trip report will help others that are in the same boat.

We visited markets/lights in London, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and Berlin (12/24 to 1/6) and it was so much fun! If you have the same date constraints as me and are wondering whether you should do it, go for it! But plan to hit as many of them between the 26th and the 1st as you can. After that, I found that it became a bit less festive (Berlin was an exception). Also, I did a lot of research beforehand on which ones were open in which city. Details below:

If you would like to see some pictures, let me know and I'll figure out a way to add here.

Daily Itinerary
  • December 24th - December 27th: London lights and markets. This city is just magical this time of year! We walked around the city visiting the various lights (Oxford Street, Barnaby Street, Covent Garden, Fortnum & Mason, Savoy Hotel, St. Pancras Station Book Tree, High Tea at one of the hotels). We did some markets - Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. But London is not famous for its markets. They were fun but my friends assured me that the ones in Germany / Austria / Czech would be grander, bigger and more festive. They were right!
  • December 27th: Flew to Vienna. Dinner at 360 Degree Ocean Sky. Lovely city views. Had really wanted to eat at the Onyx with gorgeous views of St. Stephen's but was not able to make it happen.
  • December 28th: St. Stephen's, Hop On Hop Off Tour, walk about Old Town, Mozart and Strauss concert at Schonnbrunn Palace (market closed at 4 PM so by the time we got there for the concert, it was closed).
  • December 29th: My husband and kids did the iceskating at Rathaus park. This is amazing! Not a traditional ice rink. They have laid down ice on the walking paths at Rathaus park so one is skating through the park, trees, its beautiful. While they were iceskating, I visited Schonnbrunn Palace Christmas market. I later visited the Christmas markets at Maria Theresien Platz and Belvedere Palace with my daughter (definitely more fun doing it with at least one other person!) . All were open, festive with lots of food, drinks, goods and booths. Maria Theresien Platz was the most festive with lots of people and wide variety of booths. Next was Schonnbrunn and then Belvedere (which was quiet/mellow but still pretty). We then walked around the city and saw all the lights. Just magical and amazing!
  • December 30th: Day trip to Salzburg. Caught the train and 2.25 hours later we were in Salzburg. We visited the Hohensalzburg fortress (the self-tour is VERY nicely organized and HIGHLY engaging for the kids), the Mirabell Palace Gardens (we love Sound of Music!), Mozart's Birth place and museum (this is amazing), and finally the Salzburg Christmas market. My favorite of the trip! Very festive, lots of activity, food, booths, etc. The ice rink was open. Crowded but in a good way. Live choir at the cathedral steps. We came back to Vienna.
  • December 31st: Younger daughter's 9th birthday! We went to the amusement park (Prater Wien) and the kids had a wonderful time. No lines AT ALL. We had dinner near St. Stephen's. Then after dinner we walked around the Silvesterpfad (New Year's Even trail). Not a Christmas market but New Year festivities. They pedestrianize massive parts of the city around St. Stephen’s and there are concerts, live music, food, drinking, dancing all night long. Apparently at midnight they play the Blue Danube by Strauss and the entire city comes down on the streets to do the Waltz. With the kids, we did not stay until midnight but definitely had a wonderful time walking the streets, enjoying the music, atmosphere and the beverages. Got a special New Year’s mug too!
  • January 1st: Headed to Prague by train. We stayed at the Old Town Square Residence by Emblem. Highly recommend! Our windows opened into the Christmas market at the square, it was amazing.
  • January 2nd: Prague Castle in the morning. Then in the evening, Old Town Christmas Market and Wenceslas square. These were quieter and smaller than the ones we saw in Vienna, although the Old Town one was so BEAUTIFULLY decorated. We stayed in the Old Town with our hotel room overlooking the markets, so I was able to absorb some market atmosphere that way! I was looking for some ornaments/Christmas decorations that would remind me of Prague. But was not able to find any at the markets. So we enjoyed the Honey Wine, the Tredelnik and shopped for souvenirs at other small shops off the market. I don’t know if it was this way because it was so late in the season, or if this is just Prague. Which is why if you are planning to go to the markets after Christmas, I recommend cramming everything in 26th - 1st. We still had a wonderful time in Prague though and loved the city!
  • January 3rd - Charles Bridge, John Lennon Wall, Museum of Fantastical Illusions, train to Berlin
  • January 4th - Berlin City Hall xmas market - Decent. Enjoyed this one.
  • January 5th - Breitscheidplatz xmas market - Favorite one in Berlin! So pretty, lots of vendors selling stuff, yummy Egg Nog punch. I did notice that one of the ornament shops we went to had quite a few empty shelves, so I am guessing they sold out of many things. But they still had lots of other lovely ornaments that we bought
  • January 6th - Humboldt Forum xmas maret- pretty market, enjoyed some gluhwein. But the atmosphere was just not there. Likely because this was the last day of the season. Some of the vendors looked pretty miserable (I think it was super cold and they just did not want to be there). My kids wanted to ride the carousel and the ticket seller person barely looked up from his phone to take my money and give me tokens. It was a bitter cold day so we enjoyed the gluhwein and left after a little bit
Really enjoyed the gluhwein (in Vienna) and honey wine (in Prague). Had high hopes for the egg punch (eggnog punch) in Berlin since I love eggnog. But it was interesting. Mix of wine and eggnog, served warm.

There you have it! If you have any questions, let me know.

Last edited by Manisha; Feb 2nd, 2024 at 08:57 AM.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 08:59 AM
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Christmas Markets after Christmas - A Trip Report

I posted this trip report but it did not have "Trip Report" in the title. So creating this post so that it pops up in search results when users search for trip reports. Please let me know if you have any questions!

https://www.fodors.com/community/eur...stmas-1720180/
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 01:26 PM
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Nice report. I too have time to travel between Christmas and New Years, but find it difficult to make a trip happen before Christmas. Great info.
Thank you!

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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 01:44 PM
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Thanks for your report, Manisha. I never realized there were so many Christmas/ New Years markets open after Christmas.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 02:32 PM
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Your two threads have been merged. If this ever happens again, just contact a moderator to add a Trip Report flag
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 03:57 PM
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Thanks for reading J62 and HappyTrvlr.

HappyTrvlr - yes quite a few are open. Definitely more are open before Christmas but that is not an option for us. Here is a FB Group - Magical Christmas Markets of Europe I used for research. And here is a spreadsheet they maintain for all the Xmas markets opening and closing dates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3778...8621164202334/ (Probably have to join the group to see the sheet but it is impressive!)
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 04:08 PM
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Hi Manisha, I think people here will really appreciate your research as we get so many people asking about Christmas markets after Christmas - I remember quite a few posts asking about this. We once went on a trip from the north-east of Germany to the Ruhrgebiet stopping at Christmas markets all the way - I was quite keen to work out if there were differences across the whole trajectory. A friend deprecatingly said to us that all the markets were the same. Well, I don't agree, there were definitely food differences (Quarkbaellchen in the north-east as far as Hildesheim, Kartoffelpuffer in the Rhineland). What differences did you discover?

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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 05:47 PM
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What a very nice trip report. I was just in Berlin and Prague for Christmas markets in early December. I could have spent more time as two days each wasn’t enough time in my opinion. I spent more time in Austria so none of them disappointed me.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 06:37 PM
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Nice report! A couple of years ago, we had booked a trip to spend the week around New Year's in Vienna - but there were still very stringent COVID restrictions in place, so we cancelled. Hoping we can reschedule. It sounds like you enjoyed your time there.

This year, we spent the week around New Year's in Antwerp and Amsterdam. Antwerp's Christmas market still seemed to be going strong, and the city was very festive.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 08:29 PM
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Lavandula - Thanks for reading! Oh yes, I don't agree that they are all the same. I am a big decor/knick knacks kind of person. So that was the favorite part of the markets for me and I found that these did differ by region. I found many that were the same. For example, the Christmas ornaments that had the same winter landscape on them and then just the name of the city was different. Those were probably mass produced. But many were different - Christmas ornaments, the Schwibbogen & Candle Arches. The food, as you pointed out, was different and so were the drinks and the variety found in some places versus others. I found that each market kind of had a different focus too. Some felt more food focused (Wenceslar Square for example), some were more decoration focused, etc. Each market was decorated differently also. And then the different backdrop for each (palace versus square versus historical building) made the vibe / experience of each different!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 08:30 PM
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sassy27 - Thanks for reading! Ahhh Berlin, Prague, Austria - all wonderful places! And early December seems like the best time to go, if one can wing it. Where in Austria did you go and how long did you stay?
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 08:32 PM
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ms_go - Thanks for reading! Oh no, so sorry that you had to cancel your trip. But I think I would have done the same with the stringent COVID restrictions. New Year's in Vienna is magical! Cannot describe it, highly recommend it!

Thank you for sharing the info on Antwerp during Christmas. I had considered visiting Belgium (Brussels) because their markets are open until January 7th. But ultimately it did not work out logistically. Next time!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Manisha
Lavandula - Thanks for reading! Oh yes, I don't agree that they are all the same. I am a big decor/knick knacks kind of person. So that was the favorite part of the markets for me and I found that these did differ by region. I found many that were the same. For example, the Christmas ornaments that had the same winter landscape on them and then just the name of the city was different. Those were probably mass produced. But many were different - Christmas ornaments, the Schwibbogen & Candle Arches. The food, as you pointed out, was different and so were the drinks and the variety found in some places versus others. I found that each market kind of had a different focus too. Some felt more food focused (Wenceslar Square for example), some were more decoration focused, etc. Each market was decorated differently also. And then the different backdrop for each (palace versus square versus historical building) made the vibe / experience of each different!
Ha! That's one in the eye for my friend ! Great idea for a trip, thanks for posting!

Lavandula
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Old Feb 3rd, 2024, 06:16 AM
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Thanks for posting this Manisha. This question comes up a lot here, so your post will help plenty of travelers.

I'd think a perk of the markets after the holidays is fewer crowds, so you can actually get close to those knicknacks, etc. My experience right before Christmas in some areas is that it can get so busy one can barely get to the stalls to look at the goods.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2024, 09:24 AM
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I’ve been to Munich a couple of times at the end of November and the second time, I added 5 days in Salzburg. That gave me a bit too much time as I was able to get done what I wanted and then some. I went back to Salzburg on a day trip with family and glad they got see a bit but it was a long day and much more to see.

I then split another trip from Lithuania to Vienna. Again spending 5 days at the end of November. I travel this time of year due to getting a few more holidays in US so not just for Christmas markets. I took a day trip to Budapest and still don’t think I saw everything I wanted.

I had a friend living in Vienna (she chose it because she visited with me on the prior trip) and I only got to visit once for 6 nights before the pandemic shut everything down. I encountered a heat wave and took a side trip to Prague and Bratislava so only there for 4 nights. My poor phone was overheating and I had to do some things with my friend. I’ve gotten to experience extreme heat and snow both make it so different if you ever get the chance.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2024, 11:25 AM
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This is a fantastic trip report and so timely as Iím considering a Christmas Markets trip next year. Thanks so much for the detailed post!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2024, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by lavandula
Ha! That's one in the eye for my friend ! Great idea for a trip, thanks for posting!

Lavandula
lavandula - LOL!

Last edited by Manisha; Feb 3rd, 2024 at 06:48 PM.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2024, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8
Thanks for posting this Manisha. This question comes up a lot here, so your post will help plenty of travelers.

I'd think a perk of the markets after the holidays is fewer crowds, so you can actually get close to those knicknacks, etc. My experience right before Christmas in some areas is that it can get so busy one can barely get to the stalls to look at the goods.
Melnq8 - Yes, I would think so too (my friend in London who always goes to German Christmas markets each year before Christmas joined us in Berlin after Christmas and he too said crowds were smaller). I did not feel pushed around or rushed at any time.

Last edited by Manisha; Feb 3rd, 2024 at 06:48 PM.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2024, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by sassy27
I’ve been to Munich a couple of times at the end of November and the second time, I added 5 days in Salzburg. That gave me a bit too much time as I was able to get done what I wanted and then some. I went back to Salzburg on a day trip with family and glad they got see a bit but it was a long day and much more to see.

I then split another trip from Lithuania to Vienna. Again spending 5 days at the end of November. I travel this time of year due to getting a few more holidays in US so not just for Christmas markets. I took a day trip to Budapest and still don’t think I saw everything I wanted.

I had a friend living in Vienna (she chose it because she visited with me on the prior trip) and I only got to visit once for 6 nights before the pandemic shut everything down. I encountered a heat wave and took a side trip to Prague and Bratislava so only there for 4 nights. My poor phone was overheating and I had to do some things with my friend. I’ve gotten to experience extreme heat and snow both make it so different if you ever get the chance.
sassy27 - Oh yes, I would think 5 days in Salzburg would be a lot (almost too much) and 1 day not enough. We went for a day and felt like 2 days would have been perfect. If one wants to visit the neighboring towns / villages / road trips, then longer.

Yes, I definitely want to go back to Germany and Central Europe in the summer. My friends (who live in London and joined us for the Berlin leg) said that Berlin in summer is just marvelous!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2024, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by maryt3363
This is a fantastic trip report and so timely as Iím considering a Christmas Markets trip next year. Thanks so much for the detailed post!
Oh have the best time maryt3363! Its just magical! I mentioned it above but here it is again. I found this Facebook group to be very helpful : Magical Christmas Markets of Europe Enjoy!!!
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