MSN Travel Publishes its Recommendations for the Best Christmas Markets around the World
As today is December 1st, all thoughts (in my house, anyway!) officially turn to Christmas and the festive frivolities that await in the run up to the big day. And across Europe (and indeed beyond), the streets and squares of countless cities take on that extra magical air as the annual Christmas Markets spring into place, the chilly winter air permeated with the aromatic scent of mulled wine, yuletide carols playing in the background and traditional wooden huts brim full of beautiful handcrafted gifts and seasonal fare.
Whilst my own Christmas retail expeditions will sadly be limited to the high street and internet this year, I came across a great overview, courtesy of MSN Travel, to the best Christmas Markets around the world. Here’s a snapshot, in their own words, of their selection…
Prague spoils you for choice with two main Christmas markets just five minutes apart from each other. Filling Old Town Square is Prague’s largest Christmas market, packed with stalls offering Czech handicrafts including glasswork, blacksmith’s wares and ceramics, traditional foods like trdelnik (cooked dough with cinnamon and sugar), farm animals to stroke, and a stage with choirs from across the world. Situated a short walk away in Prague’s famous Wenceslas Square (named after the very same King as in the Christmas carol), the other market has rows of beautifully lit wooden stalls that sell gifts and local delicacies, including mulled wine, sausages and corn on the cob.
Although it is best known for Oktoberfest celebrations, Bavaria in Germany also hosts a fantastic Christmas market. In Munich, shoppers can browse traditional Bavarian gifts, munch gingerbread Lebkuchen, buy a nativity scene from Kripperlmarkt, or listen to international musicians at Theresienwiese, all while sipping their famous beer. Head over to the market close by Munich’s airport for an outdoor ice-skating rink.
The oldest Christmas market in Stockholm is located near the Royal Palace in Stortorget Square. The market is made up of red wooden stalls where you can put your ideas of Rudolph aside to taste cured reindeer and elk meat, buy jewellery and Christmas knick-knacks, and drink mulled glögg as you wander around their immensely tall Christmas tree.
As many as 200 well-decorated wooden stalls are arranged in the old, historic part of Frankfurt which is bathed in a sea of fairy lights. Visitors can enjoy mulled wine (and keep the glühwein mug), apples, chestnuts and gingerbread, as well as hopping aboard the Square’s merry-go-round.
During the Christmas holidays, Piazza Navona, a landmark located in the heart of Rome, is decorated with thousands of coloured lights. The entire square is overrun with booths selling Christmas ornaments, Murano-style glass jewellery and plastic toys. Don’t miss the giant Nutella doughnuts and the famous nativity display.
Every year, Princes Street Gardens is the venue for this traditional German Christmas market. Adding to the enchantment is the backdrop of Edinburgh’s historic castle and colourful big wheel. Around 25 of the market’s stalls are from Germany, providing for an authentic continental experience. Plus there’s an ice rink in the Gardens and a brand new one for 2014 in St Andrews Square, so you’ll never be bored of things to do.
The main market at Lille is located on Place Rihour, where Christmas decorations and festive food are sold from about 80 traditional wooden stalls. The other market in the town is located at Grand Place, where a 50-metre high Big Wheel illuminates the entire square, giving riders an amazing view of the city.
Visitors to Budapest’s Christmas fair can taste traditional Hungarian food (including traditional rooster testicle stew!) and enjoy folk dance and music. There’s also a wide selection of handmade items to buy at the different stalls as well as a fantastic light display projected onto St Stephen’s Basilica which is worth a visit.
The traditional Dresden Striezelmarket has been around for more than five centuries and is the oldest Christmas market in Germany. Dresden can claim two very specific attractions to their market – the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid, with a height of 14 metres, and the world’s biggest nut cracker. Admire them as you eat traditional Stollen and Pflaumentoffel, a chimney-sweep figure made of dried prunes.
Every year, visitors flock to New York’s holiday market at Columbus Circus, right by Central Park. Shoppers can find handmade puzzles, artisan chocolates and jewellery from up-and-coming designers, as well as warm their chilly fingers on a cup of hot chocolate or mulled cider. If the market isn’t enough for you, pop into the park for a horse-driven carriage ride in the snow!
Prague, Munich, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Rome, Edinburgh, Lille, Budapest, Dresden and New York copy copyrighted to and adapted from MSN Travel’s “Best Christmas Markets around the world”. For the complete list, visit http://www.msn.com/en-gb/travel/news/best-christmas-markets-around-the-world/ss-BBfAeZ2#image=1