Every November and December, Christmas markets spring up around the world in every shape and size. Christmas is coming up, and what better way to infuse a little tradition and magic into your holiday than by attending a delightful Christmas market. So pack your best scarves and gloves and hop on a plane to these festive celebrations. Here’s enlisted the best Christmas markets in the world that you should be visiting. They ensure fun, frolic and a grand Christmas fiesta!
1. Dresden, Germany
The Striezelmarkt in Dresden is considered the first genuine Christmas market in the world. Founded as a one-day market in 1434, it celebrated its 585th anniversary in 2019. Its 240 stands attract about 3 million visitors from all over the world. The annual market lasts throughout the Advent season until Christmas Eve. Traditional products like pottery, glassware and lace from the Vogtland region are sold on Münzgasse. The eight-meter-tall climbable pyramid, covered in handmade wooden figurines, is the main attraction of this small market. In order to bridge the waiting time until Christmas for the little ones, Santa Claus comes daily from 4 pm and has a surprise for every child. The Striezel, known as Stollen, is the distinctive Christmas bread from the city. It is a leavened dough filled with candied fruits, dried fruit and covered with icing sugar. Today, the current market is located in the Altmarkt, the oldest square in the city. This is where knight tournaments were once held. The market has over 240 stands, offering local products, and extends over half a mile long between Prager Strasse and Hauptstrasse. Visitors get an unforgettable experience from wandering among the typical and famous wooden houses, elf cottages, puppet theater and Santa Claus’ House – all which seem to come straight out of a fairytale.
2. Stockholm, Sweden – Stortorget julmarknad
Located in the heart of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan (Old Town) is the famous Stortorget Julmarknad . The Stortorget Julmarket is Sweden’s oldest Christmas market. Since this market feels like the original, I highly recommend you make it your first stop. It is by no means the largest, but there is something about its more modest size that makes it all the more appealing. In the center of the red timber huts is the enormous Stortorget Christmas tree. As far back as the 15th-century homes in Germany and Switzerland used spruce trees to decorate for Christmas. But it took a while for the trend to make its way to Stockholm. It wasn’t until 1920 that the first Christmas tree was raised here in Stortorget. But ever since, this beautiful tree has been a beacon for the market in the town square. Skansen is an open-air museum located in Stockholm, that depicts the Swedish way of life before the industrial era. It’s like stepping into a giant time machine. And at Christmas, entering the park is like walking into a Scandinavian fairy tale. Throughout the holiday season, Skansen is home to a variety of demonstrations depicting traditional Swedish Christmas celebrations.
3. Sibiu, Romania – Piața Mare
The Sibiu Christmas Market is located in the heart of Transylvania and it attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year. The market is located in the Grand Square (Piata Mare) of Sibiu. However, you’ll find a few shops in the Small Square (Piata Mica), near the Bridge of Lies too. The two squares are within walking distance from one another and I recommend visiting both. Romanians from all around the country come during the weekend to see the Christmas Market and it’s frustrating to wait half an hour to buy a Langos. Once the sun sets, the lights are turned on and the atmosphere in the market changes completely. I recommend visiting the Sibiu Christmas Market after the sunset. There are also projections on the nearby buildings with Christmas themed illustrations. The market was opened for the first time in 2007, the year when Sibiu was designated as the European Cultural Capital. The Sibiu Christmas Market is now organized by the City Council in partnership with the Embassy of Austria. There are lots of fun activities you can do and the atmosphere is incredible. The wooden houses, the beautiful projections, the skating rink, the big wheel, everything is well-thought and organized. Children and adults alike were skating happily and having fun. The rink has a surface of 600 square meters and it has a capacity of 300 people.
4. Copenhagen, Denmark – Tivoli Gardens
From mid-November through early January, the magic of the Christmas season is alive at Tivoli Gardens. Food stalls sell mulled wine and Danish donuts, while more than a million twinkling lights add a lustrous glow to the festivities. On some nights, fireworks light up the sky, creating a charming, romantic atmosphere. Throughout the season, visitors can take twilight tours to explore the grounds, and the aromatic scent of fir garlands spreads through every inch of the park. While the gardens are enchanting year-round, the holidays bring out something special; you’ll truly feel as though you’ve stumbled through a secret portal to the North Pole. Tivoli Gardens has attractions for thrill-seekers, as the screams generated by its three formidable roller-coasters can be heard for miles around. Even so, the park boasts a variety of family-friendly activities throughout the year. Santa Claus also makes regular appearances at the park, and several theaters run holiday-themed shows, including plays and ballets. In short, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied, regardless of how you feel about roller-coasters.
5. Moscow, Russia – The Red Square
Christmas in Russia is NOT celebrated on the 24th of December. While you can go to Moscow on your Christmas break and have a great time, Russians will still have two weeks until the Christian Orthodox Christmas on the 7th of January. Christmas is not that big in Russia anyway. The best part of the Christmas market in Moscow is undoubtedly Red Square. Is has a huge ice skating rink and lots of pretty stalls surrounding the rink. For a change, the music that is played is Soviet New Year music and not “Last Christmas”. The overall style of decorations is pretty unique. Moscow Christmas market is not a typical German-style Christmas Market, it’s a bit different. It has some soviet and nostalgic elements, it has some folkloric Russian elements and it has some Western elements as well. The stalls sell souvenirs, food like crepes and sausages (alright, the food isn’t very traditional) and drinks. The typical drinks sold at the Christmas Market on the Red Square include mulled wine, various teas and a Russian speciality – honey mead. While honey mead has some alcohol in it, it’s not very strong and it will keep you warm during even the coldest winter in Russia.