Bask in traditional Yuletide cheer, mulled wine, Christmas bakes and goodies, plus visits with Santa at these magical Christmas markets in Europe!
European Christmas markets – also known as a christkindlmarkt or weihnachtsmarkt – are festive street markets that originated as an Advent custom in Germany during the late Middle Ages. These days, these festive markets are a holiday mainstay all over Europe, filled with little wooden huts where vendors sell piping hot mugs of glühwein (mulled wine) and all sorts of festive snacks, hand-carved ornaments, Christmas decorations and beautiful gifts for the holidays. Some have even grown into full-blown winter festivals, with live music, performances, Santa meet-and-greets, kid-friendly activities, ice-skating and even rollercoasters. Feast your eyes on these awesome Christmas markets in Europe and mark down the dates in case you want to plan your holiday around a visit! Pssst! For something closer to home check out these Christmas markets in Singapore!
Read more: Ultimate guide to all things Christmas in SG
1. Prague Christmas Market, Czech Republic
Dates: 26 November 2023 – 6 January 2024
The Prague Christmas markets are typically held in Old Town Square. Often, this area is the main focus of Prague’s Christmas festivities. Highlights include a large Christmas tree that’s similar to the Rockefeller Christmas tree in NYC. Each year, the best tree in the whole country is selected from a different region, before being decorated and displayed in the town centre. Thousands visit the tree annually, and it is surrounded by a variety of stalls selling traditional Czech products, handcrafted decor and delish Christmas treats – must-tries include sugar-coated nuts, sausages and bratwurst. Sometimes, you’ll even get to see traditional arts such as sword-making being showcased.
2. Christmas in Cologne, Germany
Dates: 20 November 2023 to 7 January 2024
If you’re planning to be in Cologne, Germany this Christmas, you’ll have to add their festive markets to your itinerary! There are several scattered throughout the city, each with its own theme and lavish Christmas decor. From a giant ferris wheel to live performances, an ice skating rink and even a mini train called the Christmas Market Express, Cologne makes sure that every Christmas will be one for the books! Indulge in culinary delights, get a glass of hot mulled wine and marvel at the Cathedral, the Rhine and the glistening harbour Christmas market.
3. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, the UK
Dates: 17 November 2023 – 1 January 2024
One of the most stunning Christmas events in Europe, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has something for the whole family. The mornings are best for younger kids because you get to enjoy things at a slower pace. Come evening, Hyde Park turns into a massive light festival with the scent of mulled wine and hot chocolate in the air – there’s loads of Bavarian beer too! This year, you can check out Zippo’s Christmas Circus’s aerial and acrobatic magic and try your hand at an Ice Sculpting Workshop; head on down to the ice slides afterwards or test your courage on more than 10 different thrilling rides and rollercoasters. There’s also a Bavarian food village, Santaland for kiddos who want to pass on their Christmas letters to Santa, a stunning traditional Christmas market filled with Christmas gifts, decorations and Christmas food and even a frosty display of more than 500 tonnes of sculptured ice and snow statues.
4. Salzburg Christkindlmarket, Austria
Dates: 23 November 2023 – 1 January 2024
The Salzburg Christkindlmarket, in Austria, dates way back to the late 15th century when the local community flocked to it for food, dolls and all sorts of cute bric-a-brac. These days, the market opens with plenty of pomp and circumstance, and you’ll find it filled with traditional decorations for Christmas trees, all sorts of holiday gifts and, most importantly, decadent Christmas nibbles in the form of hot punch, mulled wine and Austrian pastries and bites. Alongside the specially designed Christmas lighting, the Salzburg Christkindlmarket has daily programmes that include Christmas storytelling sessions for kids, Krampus parades, guided Christmas tours and concerts, traditional wind music and Christmas carol sing-alongs.
5. Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
Dates: 1 December 2023 – 7 January 2024
Every Christmas, Tallinn‘s town hall square comes alive with a festive market that’s filled with decorated trees and an array of merchants retailing local handicrafts and Estonian Christmas cuisine – think black pudding, sour cabbage, gingerbread and hot Christmas drinks to keep you warm as it snows. The true highlight is the city Christmas tree, which has been the star of the holidays since 1441. Kids will love the merry-go-rounds and exciting Christmas programmes on offer.
6. Heidelberg Christmas Market, Germany
Dates: 27 November – 22 December 2023
The Heidelberg Christmas Market is one of the oldest markets in Germany that dates all the way back to 1398! Their picturesque alleys are perfect for those Insta-worthy photos to capture the memories that you’ll make here. Little ones will delight in an antique carousel ride, while the grown-ups can relax with mulled wine and delicious bratwurst. With illuminated fir trees, Christmas lights and a romantic castle backdrop, the scene will leave everyone beaming with joy and filled with the festive spirit!
7. Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland
Dates: 23 November – 23 December 2023
The Basel Christmas Market in Switzerland is split into two spots. Barfüsserplatz is filled with traders and artisans who retail enchanting Christmas gifts, jewellery and festive foods from cute, rustic wooden chalets. Pick up a cup of gluhwein, bite into servings of Basel Läckerli (a type of gingerbread) and waffles or enjoy freshly cooked fare like Swiss raclette and grilled sausages; don’t forget to swing by the 13-metre Christmas Pyramid (pictured) for Instagram snaps. Over on Münsterplatz, you’ll love the stunning Christmas tree that’s decked out with Christmas ornaments and decorations from the popular decorator Johann Wanner, as well as holiday lights. Another must-visit is Adväntsgass im Glaibasel at Rheingasse, a neighbourhood market that’s essentially a foodie haven with all sorts of Swiss festive delicacies.
8. Helsinki Christmas Market, Finland
Dates: 1 – 22 December 2023
Head to the Senate Square to experience the Helsinki Christmas Market! With over 100 local vendors with sustainable gift and food products and adorable handcrafted souvenirs, you can shop till you drop! Be sure to pick up a warm bowl of rice porridge, a Christmas classic in Helsinki. Take the kids on the traditional horse carousel and feast on delicious Christmas treats. Enjoy live musical performances including a Christmas choir and keep an eye out for Santa and Mrs. Claus who will make their appearance to spread Christmas joy!
9. Liseberg, Sweden
Nothing says Christmas like five million fairy lights, the chance of snow and ice-skating at Liseberg, Scandinavia’s biggest amusement park. The Christmas market at Liseberg features ice-skating, concerts and loads of exciting Christmas lights and illuminations. There’s even a chance to meet Santa!
10. Strasbourg, France
Dates: 24 November – 24 December 2023
Known as the capital of Christmas, Strasbourg’s Christmas market is filled with twinkling lights, Christmas decorations and many stores for a shopping galore! A must-see attraction here is the real 30-metre Christmas tree in the square and the Strasbourg cathedral towers that surround the festive market. Sip on vin chaud (mulled wine), pick up beautiful handcrafted gifts, and simply soak in the Christmas spirit at Strasbourg. With more than 300 stalls to browse though, be sure you bring good walking shoes!
11. Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt, Germany
Dates: 29 November – 23 December 2023
Set against the New and Old Palace, the Königsbau and the Collegiate Church, this is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, and it certainly looks like something right out of a Christmas card! The Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt (Stuttgart Christmas market) includes stunningly decorated stalls selling pretty Christmas decor and holiday treats and concerts to get you in the festive spirit.
12. Warsaw Christmas Markets, Poland
Dates: 24 November 2023 – 5 January 2024
During Christmas, Warsaw is filled with Christmas lights and cute illuminated displays – you’ll see families skating on the ice rink in the city centre, and there are traditional Christmas markets aplenty. There’s the Rynek Christmas market in the Old Town’s main square, the modern Christmas market in Praga and the main Christmas market along Market Square. These festive markets are perfect if you’re on the hunt for Christmas gifts, as you’ll find warm sweaters and hats, local gingerbread and chocolates, decorations and much more being sold out of small wooden stalls that are decked out in colourful holiday lights.
13. Winter Wonders, Belgium
Dates: 24 November 2023 – 31 December 2024
Winter Wonders in Brussels is spread out across several parts of the city such as Marché aux Poissons and the Grand-Place, and includes ice skating rinks, massive Christmas trees and a three-kilometre stretch of snow-blanketed Christmas chalets, offering hot food, warm mulled wine and more. Winter Wonders is also a light-filled affair, as it includes the Brussels by Lights event. This mini light festival will have all sorts of Christmas light displays and illuminations across the city’s streets and shopping districts. Bring good walking shoes, as there is almost 20km of light displays to check out.
14. Santa Claus Village, Finland
Dates: Open year-round
Now, we’ll admit this isn’t a traditional Christmas market but if you are looking for Christmassy vibes you can’t get more festive than Santa Claus Village in Lapland! You’ll get to meet Santa and snap pics, see the Northern Lights, feed reindeer, llamas, alpacas and other animals, go on hikes and shop from a range of local artisans – expect handcrafted knick-knacks, Christmas gifts and all sorts of Finnish products. While the village itself is open all year round, there’s always a special Christmas Opening (it’s on 19 November this year!), which honours the area’s Christmas traditions and includes musical performances, Santa’s arrival and a speech from the man in red himself.
Planning for Christmas in SG? We’ve got you covered!