Christmas means lights, food, family and the warm feeling of holidays. Did I mention food? Imagine hundreds of stalls with warm, freshly-baked breads, cakes, cookies, candies and lollies, home-made chocolates, tarts and pies, and, oh, apple strudels! Warm ones. And, at the centre of it all, a huge Christmas tree decked up with the most fantastical ornaments probably produced in the small Chinese town of Yiwu, around 300 km south of Shanghai, which has been called China’s Christmas Village for producing 60 per cent of the world’s Christmas decorations. That minor bit of dampening economics aside, the winter wonderland created by Christmas markets around the world is every bit as fun and amazing as portrayed by countless holiday movies. Here are five such markets that should be on your bucket list:
Old Town Square, Tallinn, Estonia
November 17, 2017 – January 6, 2018
This year marks 575 years since the first Christmas tree was displayed at the market. Sample Estonian delicacies and Christmas specials such as sauerkraut and blood sausages, along with hot drinks. There will be folk dances and even a cabaret devised around Moulin Rouge on New Year’s Eve. Also, white Christmas alert!
Dresden Striezelmarkt, Altmarkt Square, Dresden, Germany
November 30 – December 24
This traditional market dates back to 1434 and boasts of the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid (14m high) and the world’s biggest nut cracker. Pick up wonderful local souvenirs from filigree lace from Plauen to blow-glass tree decorations from Lauscha.
November 24 – December 24
Festooned timber houses, towering fir trees and a market that dates back to 1570, Strasbourg will enchant any tourist during the holiday season. Be sure to try the local bredele, a special Christmas biscuit that comes in many flavours and can be a great memento to carry back home.
Main square, Bruges, Belgium
November 24, 2017 – January 1, 2018
Laid out beneath the medieval Belfort bell tower, which offers spectacular panoramic views of the city, the Christmas market in Bruges is as intimate as it is magical. Try the various tipples on offer, and if you care for some sport, then there is an ice rink nearby.
November 16 – December 26
The Viennese Christmas markets — and there are said to be 20 — are unforgettable because of its backdrop. These markets are said to have started in the Middle Ages when Albrecht I allowed the citizens of the state to hold a December market, or Krippenmarkt in 1298. Now, each of these markets have a peculiarity, be it sampling the baroque lifestyle at the Belvedare Palace or sampling Glühwein (mulled wine) at Christmas Village Altes AKH.