Some European Christmas Markets Close Due to COVID, but Some Remain Open

After a year when most were canceled, some of Europe’s festive markets are back on again for the 2021 holiday season. Not all have been spared, though, as pandemic problems linger.

Some European Christmas Markets Close Due to COVID, but Some Remain Open

Munich’s Christmas market is a “nein” this year.

Photo by Shutterstock

Europe’s Christmas markets have long been a highlight of the holiday season: the fairy-tale villages, the one-of-a-kind crafts, the sugary pastries, the spiced glühwein. This year, travelers are craving holiday cheer more than ever. But because of rising COVID cases in Europe, some of the continent’s beloved Christmas markets are shutting down this season. No need to go full Scrooge just yet, though, as many of the classic markets are still open (often with new entry restrictions and health and safety protocols in place).

The information below is accurate at time of publication, but anyone planning on a Christmas-village crawl across the pond this year should make sure the markets they want to visit remain open as they prepare for their trip. There may also be specific requirements for entry, such as vaccine proof, or reduced operating hours. Happily, many of Europe’s most charming Christmas markets still have their fairy lights on for this holiday season—here’s a list.

Europe’s Christmas markets that are open

Before we get into the markets that have (sadly) closed or pushed pause due to an uptick in COVID cases in Europe, let’s address the more uplifting list of the holiday markets that we love that are still on. While this is far from an exhaustive list of the wonderful Christmas markets that take place throughout Europe, it gives a sense of which ones are open and the kinds of restrictions in place.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Historic rides and holiday lights make for the perfect festive combination at Copenhagen’s Tivoli gardens.

Historic rides and holiday lights make for the perfect festive combination at Copenhagen’s Tivoli gardens.

Photo by Shutterstock

Christmas in Tivoli

Through January 2

One of the world’s oldest amusement parks isn’t letting the pandemic dampen its holiday spirit. This year, most of the rides, games, and attractions remain open, along with illuminated Christmas trees, seasonal light projections, carols performed by the Tivoli Youth Guard, and a slew of market stalls. A COVID pass—verifying vaccination, recovery from COVID, or a negative COVID test result—is required for entry.

Berlin, Germany

If you’re in Berlin, the Gendarmenmarkt is on.

If you’re in Berlin, the Gendarmenmarkt is on.

Photo by Shutterstock

Christmas Magic Gendarmenmarkt

November 22–December 31

Artisans, acrobats, angels on stilts, plus tons of sausages and schnitzel—it’s all happening again this year on the plaza in front of Berlin’s stately Konzerthaus. Like the Baden-Baden market, this one also has 2G rules requiring proof of vaccination or past COVID illness.

Burg Hohenzollern, Germany

Royal Christmas Magic at the Hohenzollern Castle

November 25–January 9

In nonpandemic years, visitors flocked to a holiday market at this historic mountain-top castle, the ancestral seat of the Prussian Hohenzollern clan. This year, the market is called off, but those seeking a royal Christmas (and who can show proof of full vaccination or evidence of COVID recovery) can still get tickets to tour the rooms of the festively decorated manse and its grounds.

Amsterdam and Valkenburg, Netherlands

Do the holidays in the Valkenburg Christmas caves.

Do the holidays in the Valkenburg Christmas caves.

Photo by Shutterstock

Various dates

Despite recent protests against COVID restrictions in the Netherlands, Christmas markets are happening both in cities and villages, including Amsterdam’s sprawling Winter Paradise (December 19–January 3) and Ice Village at the city’s ice rink (December 15–26). In the southeast corner of the country, near Germany, the Valkenburg market draws fans for its unusual setting: Not only does the whole town turn into a Christmas village, but the festivities continue underground too, with a market in the maze of corridors beneath the ruins of the town castle, aka the Velvet Cave, and a nativity scene in the Wilhelmina Cave. COVID has shortened the market’s hours and added some entry requirements (check the website FAQs for the latest info), but it hasn’t canceled Christmas.

St. Gallen, Switzerland

St. Gallen Christmas Market

November 25–December 24

Every year, 700 stars (or star-shaped light installations) shine over St. Gallen’s Christmas market, which winds through the city’s abbey district, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The monastery’s ancient library and baroque architecture add to the Old World, yuletide ambience of the experience, a magical experience that requires COVID vaccination for entry (travelers can get a Swiss COVID certificate here).

Budapest, Hungary

Advent Bazilika market

November 19–January 1

Budapest’s Advent Bazilika market has more than 100 stalls of handcrafted gifts (think ceramics, leather goods, jewelry), near-daily performances, an ice rink, and a candle-lighting ceremony every Sunday. It’s a big, bright spot in Vörösmarty Square, in front of St Stephen’s Basilica.

Europe’s Christmas markets that are closed

Vienna, we’ll be back.

Vienna, we’ll be back.

Photo by Shutterstock

And now for the less fortunate news: the markets that have been again negatively affected by the pandemic. There’s always hope for 2022 and beyond.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna Christmas Dream Market

Undeterred by recent protests against COVID restrictions, Austria has imposed a new national lockdown in an attempt to curb its rising case numbers. As a result, all Christmas markets are canceled until at least December 13, including this most loved one in the country’s capital of Vienna.

Baden-Baden, Germany

Baden-Baden Christmas Market

After a ceremonial opening event on the evening of November 24, Baden-Baden’s market shut down on December 4, following the trend of other markets in Germany.

Bavaria, Germany

Munich and Nuremberg Christkindlmarkts

The German state of Bavaria has canceled all its Christmas markets this year, which include the biggies in Munich and Nuremberg. Revelers will have to do without the latter’s famed bratwurst and gingerbread this year.

Saxony, Germany

Leipzig and Dresden Christkindlmarkts

The Christmas market in Leipzig is one of the oldest and largest in Germany. It dates back to 1458 and usually has more than 300 stalls. This year, however, it will take a hiatus, as the state of Saxony heightens COVID safety restrictions and shuts down all the Christkindlmarkts (including the one in Dresden, which also started in the 1400s).

Black Forest Highlands, Germany

Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market

One of Germany’s most picturesque markets, the Weihnachtsmarkt in der Ravennaschlucht (or Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market) is tucked into the Black Forest valley of Ravenna Gorge under the famous and much-photographed arched railway viaduct. Sadly, fans will have to wait until next year to visit.

Prague, Czech Republic

Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square Christmas Markets

Prague’s two main markets opened for the season in November, but didn’t last.

Europe’s COVID-19 travel restrictions

For up-to-date international travel restrictions, visit the U.S. State Department’s detailed COVID-19 travel information and country-specific advisories, which are typically updated regularly. We often cross-check these references with entry requirements that are published by each individual country’s foreign or public health affairs office.

U.S. travelers should be aware that all international passengers age two and older flying into the U.S. (including returning U.S. citizens and permanent residents) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight to the United States.

In addition, the CDC has detailed recommendations for travel during the pandemic, both for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Travelers should also verify all the public health measures and openings and closures that are in place throughout Europe. Some businesses and services may have limited operating hours or capacity restrictions, curfews could be in place, and there could be additional regulations on the ground, including COVID passes that are required for entry into certain venues such as in France and Italy. These restrictions can change frequently so it’s important to stay current.

>> Next: 9 Perfectly Christmassy European Cities Without the Crowds

Billie Cohen is executive editor of AFAR. She covers all areas of travel, and has soft spots for nerd travel, maps, intel, history, architecture, art, design, people, dessert, street art, and Oreo flavors around the world. Follow her @billietravels.
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