This Year’s Most Magical European Christmas Markets

Christmas markets are starting to pop up, with Manchester being amongst the first in Europe to open last Friday. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the most magical markets from around Europe and the UK. Traditionally, Germany has been at the forefront of the modern festive phenomenon, but now other places are pulling out all the stops to serve the best bratwurst.

Take a look at some of these festive locations you can visit this Christmas.

Estonia

The market in Tallinn’s beautiful Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) opens in mid- November until the first week of January.

This is partly because the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas Day on January 7, and partly because Estonians are mad keen on Christmas and its traditions.

The market’s wooden chalets sell handicrafts, knick-knacks, and all things cosy; felt slippers, woollen gloves, mittens, hats, jumpers and socks.

For food, expect sauerkraut and sausages, served with glasses of glögg — sweet, hot wine. Tallinn has a delightful medieval centre.

Riga

Riga, the capital of Latvia, is a lovely city with a mish-mash of styles from medieval to Baroque. Its Christmas market in Dome Square runs from late November to early January. Unlike many of the larger Christmas markets, this one is much more intimate and charming.

As well as candles and carved-wood handicrafts, there are all sorts of goodies to devour: gingerbread, huge cuts of pork cooked on open fires, and hot wine.

Also visit the famous food markets housed in vast former Zeppelin hangars with fish, eels, Russian caviar, pomegranates and mountains of sauerkraut.

Basel

More than 160 stalls are spread across Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz in the centre of Basel, home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in Switzerland, running from November 28 to December 23.

This is one for foodies, with rustic wooden stalls offering fondue, Swiss raclette (melted cow’s cheese served with potatoes, gherkins, dried hams and pickled onions), grilled sausages, waffles, gingerbread and glühwein.

You can also have a go at roasting schlangenbrot (snake bread) over open fires — so named because dough is wound round a stick for cooking and looks snake-like.

Nuremburg

Nuremberg’s market, which dates from 1530 and is known as Christkindlesmarkt, is one of the most popular in Germany with more than 180 stalls lit up with fairy lights.

There’s plenty of festive cheer with beer, mulled wine and rum punch, while the delicious smells of gingerbread, bratwurst and roasted almonds fill the air. It begins on November 29 and runs until Christmas Eve.

Pick up traditional Christmas ornaments, cuddly toys, music boxes, candles, pewter figures, ceramics and jewellery.

Children will enjoy the carousels and mini Ferris wheel.

Vienna

Believed to be Europe’s oldest Christmas market, Vienna’s was established by Albrecht I, who granted the privilege of holding a Krippenmarkt, ‘December Market’ in 1298.

This year’s runs from November 15 to Boxing Day, with 20 Advent markets dotted about the city. Expect carol singing, stalls for learning to make candles and cookies, a huge ice rink, carousels and a children’s ‘reindeer train’ railway.

One of the most well-known Christmas markets is the traditional “Vienna Magic of Advent” which turns the City Hall Square into a shining fairytale land. Christmas gifts, tree decorations, sweets, warm drinks, a carousel and craft fun Christmas workshops for kids are awaiting you.

Handicrafts, glass decorations, gingerbread, cheeses, wines, cured meats and much more are for sale and are often cheaper than those found on UK market stalls.

Bath

Head to Bath this winter and it will will more beautiful than ever. More than 150 wooden ‘chalet’ stalls will line the Georgian streets from November 28 until December 15.

Handmade jewellery, original art, Christmas decorations, scarves, ponchos, toys and much else will help fill stockings. Hog roasts and burgers will keep meat eaters happy, while there will also be a dedicated vegan food chalet this year, too.

Expect carols and plenty of making merry with mulled wine and West Country craft beers. Visit bathchristmasmarket.co.uk

Manchester

Manchester’s Christmas market popped up to the public last Friday and will be open until December 21 with more than 300 wooden stalls to tempt you.

If you’re looking for gifts, there’s plenty to choose from including everything from bonsai trees to Belgian kitchenware, leather bags and amber jewellery.

Food is equally varied with paella, hog roast, waffle cones, poutine, and lots of vegetarian options.

Albert Square will be at the heart of the action, however other market sites will be at Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, King Street and St Ann’s Square. An ice rink and ice sculptures will feature in the Ice Village.