The holidays are here! And so are those cheerful markets that satisfy your every shopping, eating and good mood desires. Here are 12 markets well worth your consideration.
By Michele Herrmann
Travel souvenirs make great presents, especially during the end-of-year holidays, when you can shop at Christmas markets all around the globe. These annual holiday bazaars are the source of one-of-a-kind gifts, as well as joyful holiday experiences, and promise a cherished memento reminiscent of a location.
This northeastern French city is home to Christkindelsmärik, the oldest Christmas market in Europe, in operation since 1570. Its 300 stalls span 12 locations in the city center. In addition, there are Advent concerts, a living Nativity and a variety of musical/cultural events. No wonder Strasbourg is referred to as the “Capital of Christmas”! When: November 25 through December 31, 2016
The capital city of Croatian sees a real influx of visitors during Advent. These crowds add to the festivities, including the Christmas Fair on the streets surrounding Jelačić Square. Be sure to taste some traditional delicacies and let yourself get swept up by the entertainment. When: November 26, 2016, through January 8, 2017
Brussels really embraces Winter Wonders, a five-week offering of seasonal delights. In addition to a Christmas parade and Christmas tree display, there’s an ice-skating rink; merry-go-rounds on Place Sainte-Catherine; a mile and a half of vendor stalls; and a magical sound and light show. Winter Wonders is a must-see! When: November 25, 2016, through January 1, 2017
Berlin puts on about 60 Christmas markets, but the festival at Charlottenburg Palace is particularly marvelous. Entrancing light installations illuminate both the Baroque building and the market, which features stalls selling crafts and culinary goods; local restaurants serving fine dining in heated tents; and The Winterwald, a children’s attraction. When: November 21, 2016, through January 1, 2017
Jul (aka “yuletide”) is celebrated throughout this Danish city, with various markets and displays. Tivoli Gardens gets transformed into a Christmas village, lit up by miles of holiday lights and decorated with trees. Nyhavn’s cafes and restaurants serve up traditional holiday dishes, while a crafts market sets up along its canal. When: Mid-November 2016 to late December 2016
Santa Claus could manage his Christmas shopping by exploring this city’s 26 markets, all of which get into the holiday spirit. Best picks include those on Leidesplein and Museumplein, which feature festive foods and local treats. Don’t miss the Amsterdam Light Festival, a light art event in the city center. When: late November 2016 through early January 2017
Barcelona’s longtime Fira de Santa Llúcia includes a marketplace with four sectors: Nativity scenes/figures; greenery and plants; handicrafts; and simbombes, traditional Spanish musical instruments used for caroling. On December 11, a program of Christmas traditions and customs features Catalan performances. When: November 25, 2016 through December 23, 2016.
Held at Daley Plaza, the Windy City’s Christkindlmarket Chicago has turned a German tradition into a popular wintertime attraction. Market vendors offer an assortment of toys, ornaments, German goods and foods, and handicrafts. There’s also a performance schedule that, on certain days, sees Christkind visiting the market. When: November 18 through December 24, 2016
Hong Kong’s Winterfest brightens up the season with well-lit events. In the city’s Statue Square, a Christmas tree shines amid surrounding skyscrapers, while the Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show puts on a spectacular display. For the younger set, Hong Kong Disneyland pulls out all the stops with a yuletide extravaganza. When: November 25, 2016, through January 1, 2017
Set in the city’s Distillery Historic District, the Toronto Christmas Market recreates a traditional European Christmas market, yet with modern day attractions. It features foods and unique gifts; outdoor, heated gardens for beer and mulled wine; and a 50‐foot white spruce Christmas tree decorated with more than 18,000 lights. When: November 18, 2016, through December 22, 2016
Christmas in New York City is magical. In midtown, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park encircles an outdoor skating rink, where the public can shop in open-air stalls. Food and artisanal vendors housed in jeweled-box booths tout NYC and NY state-produced edibles, clothing for adults and children, and decorative goods. When: Now through January 2, 2017
In this Australian city, the two-block Queen Victoria Market sells Australian produce, imported gourmet foods, clothing and souvenirs – with special hours for Christmas. Melbourne’s Deutsche Schule German Christmas Market (November 25) has handmade goods and holiday treats like stollen and wuerstchen. When: December 20, 2016, through January 3, 2017