Christmas Markets - UK & Europe
Experience a selection of wonderful Christmas markets in one of Europe’s top cities, with snow-covered stalls, gifts a plenty and where aromas of spiced puddings and mulled wine fills the air. Christmas toys and authentic hand crafted goods decorate market tables in a colourful glow you could only associate with winter festivities, all set out under twinkling lights whilst carol singers set the mood and complete the scene, making this an excellent themed group short break.
Thinking about a Christmas shopping trip combined with some local sightseeing?
Our tailor-made group holidays include your preferred mode of travel to some great destinations, cosy accommodation in selected hand-picked hotels and a large dose of festive spirit! Choose from historic markets in France, traditional chalets in Germany, snow-sprinkled markets in Austria or stay in the UK, where there is an abundance of markets to also choose from.
If the Christmas Market(s) of your choice are not detailed below, contact our dedicated team to request your personalised group quotation.
Christmas Markets in the UK were very popular until Oliver Cromwell banned the celebration of Christmas in the fashion people had become used to and this affected the Christmas Markets which died out instantly. There were of course many markets in Britain during the Victorian era which would sell Christmas related products and foodstuffs in the run-up to Christmas but they were not known as Christmas Markets. Lincoln in the East of England was the first UK Christmas Market to be revived and from small beginnings is now in its 30th year. UK Christmas Markets often have continental themes bringing over French, German or Italian traders. Christmas Markets in the UK can be found in all sorts of venues ranging from town centres to stately homes. Some take place just over one weekend whilst others last for six weeks or more.
There are many towns and cities within the UK which host an annual Christmas Market including : Rochester, Exeter, Cheltenham, Chichester, Manchester, York, Bristol, Skipton,Durham, St Albans, Worcester, Oxford, Gloucester, Bath, Llandudno, Winchester,Lincoln, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds, Plymouth, Ipswich, Ludlow, Caerphilly, Edinburgh,Belfast, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Nottingham, Bury St Edmunds, Salisbury, Chester,Harrogate & Cardiff….. amongst others.
There are Christmas Markets across Europe throughout November and December which positively buzz with tourists and locals alike, both by day and well into the evening. Vibrantly coloured stalls with twinkling lights brighten up grey skies and the chance of snowfall in December gives the markets an especially festive feel. Warm up by sampling traditional products such as the infamous Glühwein and enjoy an assortment of music and other street entertainment taking place around the markets, each with their own regional flavour.
Some of the most popular Christmas Market destinations include :
Brussels - Explore the dazzling ‘Winter Wonders’ Christmas Market which lines the iconic Grand Place and Place Sainte-Catherine. Shop for unique handmade gifts, indulge in a host of Belgian treats including delicious Belgian chocolates and take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel for enchanting views.
Liege - The ‘Village de Noël de Liège’ has become one of Belgium’s most famous Christmas Markets, with wooden chalets offering gastronomic specialities, handicrafts and souvenirs
Bruges - The main stalls are located in the Market Square, overlooked by the 13th-century belfry. Here you can buy handmade jewellery, wooden toys, hats and scarves, leather goods and, of course, Belgian chocolates.
Ghent - Combine Ghent’s delightful shops and boutiques with the atmospheric Christmas stalls offering everything from pancakes, spiced gin, mulled wine to intricate hand-made jewellery and gifts.
Berlin – With over 60 markets to explore in Berlin there is plenty to see and discover. From grand boulevards and squares to the museums on the UNESCO-listed Museum Island, Berlin is a festive wonderland of fairytale urban splendour. At the Charlottenburg Castle market, 150 artisans sell their handmade creations after which you can enjoy a delicious meal in one of the many seasonal restaurants.
Hamburg - For sheer diversity Hamburg is hard to beat. In this historic port, 15 different markets cater to all tastes. Traditionalists head for the square in front of the grandiose city Hall whilst the romantics opt for the Jungfernstieg market, where the focus is on good quality food and gifts.
Worms - An hour south of Frankfurt and claiming to be ‘Germany’s oldest city’, Worms proves that small really is beautiful. The market place comes to life as strings of lights fan out above the 50 Christmas stalls. With its Roman history and enormous Romanesque cathedral, the past is an everyday presence, but at Christmas, this Rhine-side town has a few extra surprises. Listen to classical music and traditional Turmblasen (brass players), as well as gospel choirs and carol-singers.
Cologne - Not one but seven Christmas markets including in the Old Town’s cobbled Alter Markt and Cathedral, the fairy-tale St Nick’s Village on Rudolfplatz, and the Neumarkt’s Angel’s Market. You will be spoilt for choice.
Stuttgart - Dating back to 1692, the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is one of Germany’s best-known pre-Christmas jamborees. In the pedestrianised old centre, the air is scented with spiced wine and fresh pine. From the Schlossplatz to the Marktplatz, there are some 300 stalls which snake along the cobbled streets, decked out with bright ornaments and sparkling lights. There are also free concerts which are held in the Renaissance courtyard of the Old Palace and on the steps of the Town Hall.
Bologna – ‘Buon Natale’ is the greeting you hear at these seasonal markets which are located in the heart of this ancient city. Spread around the 12th-century San Pietro Cathedral is the Fiera di Natale, whilst the smaller Antica Fiera di Santa Lucia is to be found in the cloister of the Santa Maria dei Servi church. Bologna is synonymous with good food and there are mouth-watering temptations everywhere, from realistic fruits, made from marzipan and citrus peel dipped in dark chocolate to torrone, a festive-season nougat made with nuts and honey.
Angers – Good food is a passion here and the Soleils d’Hiver (Winter Suns) Festival is a gourmet’s delight. There are so many delicious things to eat, not just from the Loire Valley, but from all over France. By the 13th-century fortress is the Maison des Vins Co-op where the real bargain of affordable ‘bubbly’ can be found – just in time for Christmas!
Strasbourg - Year round this city scores highly for ‘Olde Worlde’ charm, but during Advent, the capital of Alsace is even more magical. Half-timbered houses sport giant red-and-white hearts; stars, angels and snowflakes garland the cobbled streets. The Christkindelsmärik dates back to 1570 and even the towering fir tree on the Place Kléber is a 400-year-old custom. There are 11 different ‘christmas villages’ where the local speciality ‘bredele’ (a biscuit in all shapes and flavours), from hazelnut, orange and cinnamon to walnut, coconut and praline can be bought.
Vienna - The Christmas Markets here are an age-old tradition. The forerunners of the present-day events date back to the Middle Ages when in 1298 Vienna's citizens were granted the privilege of holding a December Market or "Krippenmarkt". Since then, the character and prevalence of these markets has changed considerably. Nowadays, over 20 official Advent Markets sell a vast array of seasonal gifts and mouth-watering treats.
Innsbruck- - Imagine the lights of a Christmas tree rivalling the glistening tiles of the Golden Roof, the aroma of freshly made “Kiachln” (piping hot doughnuts laced with Sauerkaut), and the sound of traditional Christmas carols.
Salzburg -The pealing of countless church bells reminds everyone that Christmas is near. The Christmas markets will fill you with warmth as you look out to the city's snow-covered roofs, domes and towers. The bustle of this event combined with the smell of punch and toasted almonds, hot roasted chestnuts and freshly baked apples, along with the gingerbread hearts, nativity figures, Christmas tree ornaments, toys and snug knitwear, make this irresistible.
Stockholm - Although the first Christmas market in Old Stockholm was held 500 years ago, the modern event dates back “only” a century. In front of the Nobel Museum, close to the Royal Palace, the cheerful stalls are filled with crafts made only in Sweden, including glass, pottery and jewellery.
Gothenburg - The Liseburg Christmas Market which takes place in Gothenburg is reputed to be the largest in Sweden with over 60 stalls and an open air ice rink nearby. Outdoor stalls sell Swedish Christmas sweets, smoked sausages, reindeer meat, glögg (mulled wine), and a wide range of Swedish handicrafts.
Budapest – Here you will find 100 wooden pavilions in Vorosmarty and St Stephen’s Square. Amongst the many sweet Hungarian pastries are crocheted items, traditional fur hats and gloves, pressed-flower jewellery and handmade chocolates and honey cakes. You can even commission a made-on-the-spot iron candelabra.
Prague - The Old Town Square has a stage-set nativity scene, a huge tree and daily performances by folk bands and choirs. Comb the stalls – both here and in neighbouring Wenceslas Square – for carved wooden toys, Bohemian crystal, garnet jewellery and traditional straw and maize decorations. Eat: klobasa (Polish sausage) or trdelnik, a hot, sugar-coated pastry. Don’t miss: an evening concert in one of the city’s churches, such as St Salvator, St Clement’s Cathedral or St George’s Basilica.
Vilnius - Eye-catching at this time of the year is the Television Tower which is transformed into a 550-ft high Christmas tree which is covered with a ‘gazillion’ light bulbs. Even the 25m metal frame is covered in real fir tree branches.