6 Of The Best Christmas Markets In Europe To Get Into The Vibe

Explore ancient markets, sample some bratwurst, warm up with a glühwein, listen to local musicians singing Christmas carols, and pick up Christmas accessories
Dresden's Striezelmarkt was first held in 1434
Dresden's Striezelmarkt was first held in 1434Dunk/Flickr Commons

The season of yuletide is around the corner and everyone is getting ready for some Christmas cheer, stockings and stollen, and glasses of mulled wine. There is no better place to witness Christmas celebrations than in the Christmas markets of Europe. From some of the oldest, dating back to mediaeval times, to the most beautiful, here are some of the best places in Europe to immerse yourself in the festive Christmas atmosphere.

Leipzig, Germany

Leipzig in Saxony, Germany, boasts one of Europe's liveliest Christmas markets. It dates all the way back to 1458. As snow falls, stroll down the elegant Grimmaische Street, which is lined with wooden booths and humming with cheer. The Christmas Market, which has over 200 vendors, is nestled in the middle of Marktplatz. Try the heart-shaped gingerbread Lebkuchen Heart with dunkle trinkschokolade (dark hot chocolate), Moravian stars (also known as the Herrnhuter Stern), pick up votive lamps and candles, and bottles of the famed glühwein (or mulled wine).

Transylvania/Romania

Dracula's home turf is a hub of Christmas markets. It doesn't matter whether you're in the bustling capital city of Bucharest, or taking in the historical charm of Sibiu, or the vibrant energy of Cluj, the Christmas markets in Romania are an amazing mix of old-world beauty and modern exuberance. The ancient Transylvanian city of Sibiu hosts a buzzing market with all the trappings of tall Christmas trees, colourful stalls, mulled wine and an ice rink. The festivities last for a month with different holiday themes being organised every week.

The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt
The Salzburg ChristkindlmarktSalzburger Nockerl/WikiCommons

Salzburg, Germany

The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt near the Dom and Residenzplatz has significant historical origins, dating back to the 15th century. It is considered to be one of the world's oldest Advent markets. Hosted in a lovely setting at the foot of the Hohensalzburg fort, and around Salzburg's historic Cathedral, this market in Germany is atmospheric also due to its unique location in the heart of Salzburg's World Heritage-listed Old City. You can immerse yourself in choral singing in front of the cathedral, "Turmblasen" (wind instruments) on Residenz Square, and nativity exhibitions in the Residenz courtyard.

Strasbourg, France

The iconic Christkindelsmärik has been working its spell in the European city for over four centuries. The Christmas celebrations stretch back to 1570, making it one of Europe's oldest Christmas markets. The iconic Christkindelsmärik has been working its spell in the European city for over four centuries. Strasbourg is recognised as France's Christmas capital, with more than 300 wooden chalets on every square. More than two million visitors come to enjoy the festive atmosphere reflected by glittering fairy lights on the streets and a beautiful tree in the city centre. Taste traditional Alsatian dishes like bredele cookies and flammkueche while sipping Alsatian wine and seeing the gorgeous hand-blown glass ornaments and carved wooden toys.

The stalls and pop-ups in Valkenburg
The stalls and pop-ups in ValkenburgKleon3/WikiCommons

Valkenburg, The Netherlands

Valkenburg, a small town in the Dutch province of Zuid-Limburg, was named the 2022 European City of Christmas. The Gemeentegrot (Municipal Cave) and Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave) each have unique Christmas markets. Mergelrijk will astonish you with dozens of intriguing stories about marlstone and caves set against a Christmas backdrop, complete with stunning marlstone sculptures, works of art, videos, and interactive tablets. Take a stroll around Santa's Village while watching the stunning Christmas Parade, complete with illuminated floats and beautifully costumed dancers.

Leeds Castle, England

Christmas at Leeds Castle is an extraordinary event that has earned it the title of one of the most visited sights. The festive theme of the trail guides tourists on an illuminated tour of the castle grounds, passing tall structures and a spinning light display. As you walk around the castle, look for stunning trees decked out in dazzling lametta tinsel and a fusion of colours paired with floral arrangements. The traditional Leeds Castle Christmas Tree is the major attraction, evoking the Christmas spirit and making it an unmissable sight.

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