Every other year my wife and I travel to Europe for Christmas Markets. Why? To begin with, most of these markets are traditions stretching back hundreds of years, so each market takes on it's own distinct personality. This trip we visited Erfurt and Dresden, Germany, Prague, and Budapest. We always take the train since this removes weather as a factor in getting from city to city.
Dresden actually has 4 different markets of different sizes and themes. We were fortunate to be here on the first Saturday in Advent (Dec 3), when Dresden holds it's Stollenfest. Stollen is a holiday bread made famous in Dresden. On this day they bake a gigantic 8'x 12' loaf and parade it through the city to the main Christmas market at Neumarkt. Quite a sight, and very entertaining.
Dresden, itself, is a miraculous place. A pristine Renaisance city flattened by bombs in 1945, it has been restored almost...
Cinnamon, vanilla and anis lead the way. Bells and laughter invite. Two golden angels greet you as you walk through the gate.
It's such a special time and no place really seems to bring the joyful feeling of Christmas closer to my heart than the ones I experienced in Germany.
The Christmas Market in Ludwigsburg is one of my favorites as it's not as crowded but the best part is its theme: Renaissance and Baroque. The decoration, food options, and products you will find here are all wrapped around that theme.
Oh how I would love a "Gluehwein" right now.
After three Christmases and countless holiday markets since our move to Germany, the Erfurter Weihnachtsmarkt has definitely become one of our favorites. Whether it's for the impressive Dom overlooking the main part of the market, the Medieval section with its ratty tents and rustic fare or the amazingly delicious Hungarian Lángos (offered somewhere in the middle), it is worth the trip to this lesser-known and far less crowded Markt.
Toronto's Distillery Historic District attracts tourists all year round however I find it particularly atmospheric during winter with a dusting of snow and sparkle of lights. 2012 marks the 3rd annual Christmas Market that takes place here and I recommend as a visit during winter.
The District is full of little shops, cafes, restaurants and a theatre. All the info is here: http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com/
Copenhagen explodes with Christmas markets the first weekend of December. Real-life cheer is everywhere, and it's not even freezing yet.
In particular: there's the most epic artificial man-made Christmas wonderland that, despite being artificial and man-made and commercial, is no better way to start off the holiday season. Tivoli, the tourist classic, old school amusement park. I will probably never feel that much child-like joy, see so many twinkly, dramatic displays, or 100% believe in my heart that reindeers could fly, ever, ever again.
Popped across the border into France over the weekend to hit the Christmas market. This is something that I have been doing every year for at least the past dozen years.
Every year they erect a very large ferris wheel and its usually a freezing cold trip in it, looking at the frozen city however this time the skies weren't exactly clear but visibility was excellent so it was a great photo-op.
The photo shows the main part of the market where the food and 'vin chaud' were served, and gifts sold.
There’s no better way to experience the festivities of the holidays than Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) in Germany, and Frankfurt's is particularly beautiful.
The markets take place usually in the center of the town, and you'll find all manner of stalls selling a wide array of crafts and tasty regional delicacies, sweets, cakes, food, mulled wine (Glühwein) and other delights. Especially, if/when there’s snow, the atmosphere is absolutely magical.
Almost every city, town, and village in Germany has its own Christmas market, and deciding on which one to attend is not easy, as each of them are unique and reflect local & regional culture.
Stall after stall of kitschy folk art? Sure. But December’s monthlong Festive Fair also has homemade pear brandy, piles of fresh sauerkraut, and hours of great stories about the days of socialism. Lights on the Triple Bridge add a warm glow.
Photo by Gandalfar. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
Unfortunately, I haven't been to enough European Christmas markets to know whether this one is truly extraordinary, but I really love the marché de Noël in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.
The little stalls are set up along the Cours Mirabeau, the main street in Aix, as soon as the beginning of December rolls around, and there they stand through the end of the month.
Whether you're looking to buy handmade gifts, drink mulled wine, or just take in the sight of the lights and the crowds, this is a market worth visiting.