One chilly night in 1570, the city of Strasbourg held its first ever Christmas market, and it was such a great success that every year since, the tradition has been continued in impeccable style. In fact, the Strasbourg market was the first of its kind in Europe and these days, the city is fondly hailed as the ‘Capital of Christmas’ for this very reason. Perched on the border of France, this wonderful city soaks up the best of both French and German culture. There’s a real buzz on the streets around Christmas time throughout the city, and visitors will find it very easy to slip into the spirit of it all. Thousands of lights line the streets, twinkling in the night’s sky. They illuminate the paths ready for shoppers to weave their way through the carefully selected array of stalls that brim with delicious Christmas delights, local crafts and lovingly made toys. The Christmas tree soars 30 metres into the sky, and is clearly the centrepiece of the occasion. At the foot of the tree, choirs and orchestras can be heard, bringing the festive cheer to the crowds, through music. The ice rink glows invitingly- a gift very much welcomed by those who didn’t quite get the white Christmas they were wishing for. It’s one of the largest of its kind in the whole of Europe, where the festivity and spirit flows throughout the city to eleven separate sites, but it doesn’t lose its charm as a result.
Visit from the 27th November- 31st December
Around 180 stalls fill the streets of Nuremberg’s old quarter in the run up to Christmas, and every year around two million people make the journey from all over the world to pass through this wonderfully festive display. Tradition is a key element here, and stalls are regulated to ensure that only items closely in keeping with the time of year are sold, eliminating any modern products, that might lack Christmas character. Instead, hand crafted toys, decorations and homemade delicacies are just a small portion of items providing the allure. The huge, glowing ferris wheel stands tall between the carousel and the steam train, all an intricate part of this grand spectacle that illuminates the dark winter’s sky. There is plenty for young ones to enjoy, but for the mums and dads, there are a number of traditional Christmas drinks to warm your socks on a cold evening, so treat yourself to a glass of mulled wine and a traditional smoked German sausage. Make sure you take home one of the ‘Nuremberg Plumb People’, the perfect souvenir to remind you of this wonderful occasion. Although, enjoy it whilst you can, as these are made from real prunes. Visit from the 27th November – 24th December
Snow on the roofs of quaint wooden stalls, lights sparkling, and the smell of gingerbread filling the air, this truly is a magical affair. Snow lies on the ground at this time of year in Estonia, almost guaranteed. So it’s no surprise that people flock here every year to catch a glimpse of this winter wonderland, which couldn’t resemble a fairy tale any more if it tried. Tallinn’s Christmas market has a more intimate feel to it than others, as with only 60 stalls, guests can comfortably navigate the area and won’t miss out on a thing. Local cuisines such as sour cabbage and black blood pudding are on offer for the adventurous, but for those of you who like to play it safe, some more universal festive treats are also available. Children will particularly enjoy this market as they will be gifted with the chance to meet real reindeer, to play with Santa’s elves and to meet the main man himself. Ice sculptures are built before your very eyes, before becoming illuminated as part of the enchanting lighting display.
Visit from 20th November – 8th January