10 Most Magical Christmas Markets in Europe

These open-air markets from across Europe are the perfect outdoor activity for Christmas 2021. Even if the weather outside is frightful, they’ll keep your hearts and hands warm as you browse delightful one-off gifts and delicious food. 

Belfast

Open since the 20th of November, the 2021 Belfast Christmas Market is back to delight and enchant locals and visitors alike. Featuring its famous vintage Helter Skelter, and popular carousel ride, you’ll be all a whirl as you explore the extensive food court, shop for unique gifts, and admire the illuminations at Belfast City Hall. The Belfast Christmas Market will close on December 23rd.

Dublin

After a hiatus in 2020, Christmas at the Castle will return to Dublin. Opening on the 8th of December in the historic surroundings of Dublin Castle, this Christmas market will boast over thirty alpine-wood stalls selling food and handicrafts. Visitors will be able to enjoy performances by the Dublin Gospel Choir, among other acts, and can wrap up a trip with a tour of the festively decorated State Apartments and a viewing of the famously lovely Neapolitan nativity scene. The market will finish up on the 21st of December.

Nuremberg

One of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, Nuremberg’s enchanting Christkindlesmarkt is on record as far back as 1628. In the gorgeous surroundings of one of the continent’s best preserved medieval cities, the Nuremberg Christmas Market never fails to impress. In particular, visitors should keep an eye (or rather, nose) out for sellers of the traditional spicy sausages and gingerbread. The market opens on the 26th of November and can be enjoyed until Christmas Eve. 

Strasbourg

Any market taking place in a city that’s been nicknamed ‘France’s Capital of Christmas’ is bound to be good. Strasbourg’s annual Christmas market is a real treat, playing host to a whopping 300 market stalls. Overlooked by the city’s impressive cathedral, you can shop for hand-painted wooden Christmas ornaments and mouth watering sweets and brioche in beautifully illuminated surroundings.

Vilnius

Its central Christmas tree has had the honour of being named the most beautiful in Europe four times in a row, and the Vilnius Christmas Market has much more to offer besides. Located in the heart of the Lithuanian capital, shoppers will be able to sample cakes, artisanal cheeses, mulled wine, and gingerbread. They can also admire the Christmas lights throughout Vilinius’ Old Town, and even catch a flying visit from Santa Claus! Open from the 27th of November to the 7th of January.

Vienna

One of the prettiest cities in Europe at any time of year, Vienna really shines during the Christmas season. Its main squares are transformed into a winter wonderland by various markets, one of the most popular being “Vienna Magic of Advent” in City Hall. This wonderful market provides everything needed for an unforgettable experience: warm festive drinks, a winter fairyland, lights, hand-crafted gifts, carousel rides, and workshops for kids. You can enjoy it from the 17th of November to the 26th of December.

Prague

A postcard-perfect city, Prague is a magical place during the holiday season. Its charming Christmas market will win you over with its stalls dedicated to local specialities such as garlic and cheese flatbread or citrus-infused mulled wine. Kids will be thrilled with the live nativity scene, which boasts sheep and donkeys, and people of all ages will love the spectacle of the Christmas tree being lit in Wenceslas Square at 5pm everyday. The market runs from the 27th of November to the 2nd of January.

Budapest

One of Europe’s most culture-rich cities is unsurprisingly also one of the best places for a Christmas market. Budapest’s Basilica Market is not only one of the most eco-friendly options around, with environmentally friendly cutlery, cups, and plates, it’s also one of the most lively. Visitors will love ice-skating around the massive Christmas tree and watching the laser light-show projected on the walls of the Basilica itself. This market is open from the 29th of November to the 2nd of January.

Tallinn

Another Baltic contender, the Christmas market in Estonia’s capital city will be sure to please crowds. Taking place on cobblestone streets and surrounded by medieval rooftops dusted in snow, you’ll pass pleasant hours sampling seasonal foods, buying original presents, and enjoying the Christmas tree outside the Town Hall (a tradition that dates from 1441!). Santa and his reindeer sleigh will also make an appearance, and you shouldn’t miss a chance to hear the brass bands and bell ringers. This is a long-running market, from the 15th of November to the 7th of January.

Gothenburg

Try for a Scandinavian Christmas experience in the Swedish city of Gothenburg! The cool crisp atmosphere and high chance of snow will provide the perfect environment to enjoy the sight and smells of its glowing Christmas market. An amusement park during the rest of the year, this market boasts incredible kid’s rides such as bumper cars and rollercoasters. The highlight is the half-hour ice-show, and after all this excitement you can wind down with warm drinks and smoked reindeer meat. The market is open for visitors from the 12th of November to the 22nd of December.

Now that we’ve armed you with a list that Santa Claus himself would be proud of, all that’s left to do is take your pick and get out there and enjoy yourselves.

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Caoilfhinn Hegarty

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