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Best Christmas Markets in Europe: “Traditions from the Heart”


Quick Overview

As we begin in earnest to prepare for the upcoming Christmas Season, where else but in Europe will one experience the enchantment and traditions of the holidays!  Strolling through a Christmas Market is where the romance of the holiday will truly rekindle in you a sense of joy and peace!

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As we begin in earnest to prepare for the upcoming Christmas Season, where else but in Europe will one experience the enchantment and traditions of the holidays!  Strolling through a Christmas Market is where the romance of the holiday will truly rekindle in you a sense of joy and peace!



  Escape from the crowded malls or disconnected experience that the internet offers, and instead take in the grandeur of the smells of gingerbread and roasting sausages as you embark on discovering that unique gift from a grand selection of handmade wares that have not been outsourced to China!  Join in the old world charm of traditions – sipping mulled wine while your spirit sings along with the carolers!  Come with me as I share with you my favorites!


  • Munich, Germany – Look for the Christmas tram that will guide you through the old city serving wine and gingerbread! Marienplatz is the main square where a magnificent glowing 100-foot Christmas tree and hundreds of craft stalls will welcome you!  The Alpine choir & brass band, from the Town Hall balcony, begin their caroling at 5:30pm each evening. I always reflect upon the small Hummel figurine –“ Goose Girl” - that my grandmother gave me.  In addition to Main Square, there are small themed markets scattered throughout the city:  includes the famous Kripperlmarkt on Rindermarkt, and a Medieval Market on Wittelsbacher Platz.  Most all major German destinations have similar Christmas Markets like Munich but my second favorite in Germany is Stuttgart! 




  • Stuttgart, Germany – Massive is the best description for this 318 year tradition as they tie in through Christmas décor, the major city centers and buildings!  They have over 270 stalls selling handmade wooden toys, nutcrackers, clothing, Xmas decorations, and hand-painted glass ornaments!  Of all the Christmas fares, nothing can compare with the Hutzelbrot (fruitcake), Gluhpunsch wine scented with cinnamon, clove and vanilla.  Daily there is a concert in the Old Renaissance Courtyard beginning at 6:00 pm weekdays, 5:00pm weekends. 


  • Copenhagen, Denmark – Top of the list is Tivoli Gardens, the city’s famous amusement park which is decorated with over four miles of lights, artistically hung in beautiful holiday displays.  Join the Danes in the traditional Xmas toast with a glass of mulled red wine, laden with raisins, almonds, cinnamon sticks and cloves! Visit the market in the Nyhavn district, and witness the town crier around 5pm daily. Look out for the nisser, those tiny household elves, that infest Denmark around Christmas.  Dressed in clogs, red shirts, and pointed red caps, be sure to leave a bowl of porridge out in the attic or face their mischievous deeds! 


  • Brussels, Belgium – this destination for Xmas fare is relatively new when compared to Germany and other destinations.  It all began in 2002 and since is noted as the biggest in Europe!  Truly this “Pleasures of Winter” is a festival with such grandeur and style.  The Grand Place hosts the magnificent nightly sound and light show.  Representing all of Europe, the artisans are from around the world!  Belgium tradition however, is not lost, for you will be unable to resist their fluffy Belgian waffles, seasonal croustillons (sugar doughnuts), followed by their famous fine chocolates and beer.  The Fish market is transformed into an ice skating rink with a 160 foot Ferris wheel sparkling as a backdrop.  If you had to choose, and wanted the flavor of a multitude of ethnic handmade wares, Brussels would be a great choice.  A day trip to Bruges a must too!


  • London, England – Christmas season opens in November from the official Norwegian fir on Trafalgar Square to the ice skating rink at Somerset House.  A visit to Hyde Park is the focus for this winter wonderland, wherein you will have hundreds of selections of handmade crafts to choose from.  Look for the Tower of London’s Medieval Christmas celebration which is held toward the end of December.  Check out Royal Albert Hall for concerts and carol sing-along programs!  Some of my grandson’s favorite handmade ornaments remain a tradition in my family – fond memories of the London Christmas Market. 


  • Rome, Italy – a glorious destination to celebrate Christmas in addition to the Christmas markets of handmade toys. “La Befana” – the Christmas witch is endearing to the children, who deliver them gifts on Epiphany in early January. Across the city you will be greeted by elaborate life-size Nativity scenes, especially in Vatican Square. An elaborate Christmas market is set up at Bernini fountains (Trevi Fountain).


  • Other favorites of mine include Barcelona, Spain, Stockholm, Sweden, Dublin, Ireland, and Glasgow, Scotland.  All similar in that their markets are held outside, with a plethora of handmade and traditional gifts!  No matter what country of your choice, you will have a wonderful holiday!



Most all cities in Europe will have a Christmas market – held outside with snowflakes spiraling down on happy shoppers.  That is part of the fantasy – a shared shopping experience, sipping hot mulled wine, while trying to make a decision on what handmade item makes that perfect gift!


Truly a step back in time – a step back to indulge in the traditions of a particular city and country – to rekindle the traditions that make a holiday so very special.  So put that IPad away – and perhaps this season hand write out those special notes to loved ones, spend time to find that one of a kind something that just may end up to be part of a Christmas Family Tradition!  I hope so!


November 14, 2022


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