Feeling festive? Ready to rescue your Christmas jumpers from the depths of your wardrobe? Hankering for a little mulled wine? Well, never fear: the season to be jolly is nearly upon us! If, like me, you’re cuckoo for Christmas, then why not indulge yourself with a trip to one of Europe’s most exciting Christkindlmarkts? From Ferris wheels decked in fairy lights to bratwursts longer than your arm, here are 12 of the most festively fun Christmas markets in Europe to make you merry this season.
If you’re a bit crafty then Vienna has the perfect option for you. Art Advent, in picturesque Karlsplatz, is a stylish and atmospheric market selling only handcrafted goods and organic food. Plus there are art installations and live bands throughout the lead up to Christmas. Try some very festive Maroni (roasted chestnuts) or Weihnachtspunsch (Christmas punch), then Instagram every single inch of this magical setting including the streams of fairy lights that extend from beautiful Karlskirche.
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Head to the gorgeously vintage Karlsplatz for a late night snack of crisp, yet gooey, apple strudel.
🎅 Click here for more Christmas markets in Vienna.
🎄 Art Advent: 17th November – 23rd December 2017
Question is: can you get it home before you break it? 📷: @zeynepbalyali
With over 50 festive markets across the city, Berlin is awash with the Christmas spirit (and Glühwein)! Probably the dreamiest of them all is the Berliner Weihnachtszeit, near Alexanderplatz, whose historic location and traditional market style makes it feel more 1917 than 2017. Picture a 50-metre high Ferris wheel, medieval-style bakery, pony rides and an ice-skating rink. Plus rows of atmospherically lit wooden cabins, selling rich hot chocolate and cute Lebkuchen (German gingerbread hearts).
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Head to nearby Brauhaus Georgbraeu, where you can try this microbrewery’s own George pils right next to the bronze brewing tanks. Be warned though: one-litre tankards are available.
🎅 Click here for more Christmas markets in Berlin.
🎄 Berliner Weihnachtszeit: 27th November – 29th December 2017
There must be some beer in there, somewhere. 📷: @anatoly_a_f
Fir trimmed everything! 📷: @goniisraeli
Hot for chocolate. 📷: @jimmyshrseki
Looking for a festive destination that won’t break your Christmas budget? Try fairy tale Prague, where one of the squares is named after that good King Wenceslas himself! The Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) holds the most iconic market, with the Church of Our Lady before Týn’s Gothic spire towering over this Disney-esque site. Watch out for the huge tubs of water in the streets filled with carp, their traditional Christmas Day dish, and don’t miss the chance to try the rolled dough dream that is Trdelník!
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Have your beer delivered to you by train! The Vytopna Railway Restaurant has its own miniature train running along the bar that transports your bevvy right to you.
🎅 Click here for more Christmas markets in Prague.
🎄 Old Town Square Market: 2nd December 2017 – 6th January 2018
Walking in a winter wonderland. 📷: @steven_hillier
Gimme gimme! 📷: @flolaviniaa
Tasty Trdelník. 📷: @iva0427
You know it’s a good Christmas market when the locals love it just as much as the tourists. The main festivities take place on Marienplatz, whose 20,000 square metres are covered with stalls selling traditional Bavarian gifts and food. Plus beer, Glühwein (mulled wine) and one massive tree! Watch out for the Krampus – the terrifying half-goat, half-demon assistant to Saint Nicholas. These spookily disguised locals, who are a Christmas tradition in Alpine Austria and southern Bavaria, also stage their own Krampuslauf (Krampus run) through the city twice every December.
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Head to HQ of Munich’s most beloved beer at Paulaner Bräuhaus in Kapuzinerplatz, where you will be served by a waiter wearing lederhosen.
🎄 Munich Christmas Market: 27th November – 24th December 2017
All kinds of sparkly. 📷: @thekimmim
So excited for Christmas. 📷: @kvanmunster
Krampus: scary AF. 📷: @alieurance
Another fairy tale Christmas market that will suit all budgets is in the Hungarian capital. Budapest’s Basilica Christmas Market is held in front of one of the largest churches in the country, St Stephen’s Basilica on the Pest side of the river. This market is run by Hungarian folk artists, so it focuses on selling traditional crafts alongside a sizeable ice skating rink and a stunning Christmas tree decked in streams of fairy lights. Plus you can warm up on mulled wine and Kurtoskalacs (chimney cake) – similar to the Trdelník you’ll find in Prague.
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Where better way to warm up in Budapest than at one of its beautiful thermal baths, including the Art Nouveau Gellért Baths.
🎄 Basilica Christmas Market: 24th November 2017 – 2nd January 2018
Kinda makes you light up, right? 📷: @jennaj79
Now that’s how you mull wine. 📷: @millie_munro
Beautiful Budapest. 📷: @anka_kao_takva
If you fancy yourself a bit of a foodie then head to one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe. Feed your festive spirit with all manner of local specialities, including Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Drei im Weggla (3 bratwursts in a bun), and roasted almonds. This atmospheric Christkindlesmarkt attracts around two million visitors each year but doesn’t mean it’s full of trashy gifts. In fact, no plastic toys are allowed to be sold in this market, leaving plenty of room for handcrafted decorations and artisan gifts.
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Don’t miss the historical charm of Café Wanderer and Bieramt, where you can sample some amazing Franconian beers.
🎄 Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt: 1st – 24th December 2017
It may be cold but it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. 📷: @leticijasd
One happy foodie. 📷: @acpbarros
It’s OK to lick the screen. 📷: @marie_lourier
If you’re after the most Instagrammable Christmas market in Europe, then head to Copenhagen. The vintage amusement park, Tivoli Gardens, in the city’s centre turns into its very own winter wonderland every November and December. Not only do they have stalls bursting with cosy knitwear and Aebleskiver (pancake balls dusted with powdered sugar and served with jam), they have reindeer, 27 fun rides, snow-covered trees and twinkling lights. You’ll be feeling some serious #hyggevibes as you wander around these markets and pleasure gardens.
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Lidkoeb is Copenhagen’s coolest bar, with three different floors serving whisky, cocktails, and beers in a stylish Scandi surrounds.
🎄 Tivoli Christmas market: 18th November – 31st December 2017
Sleighing it. 📷: @jessicamariasiney
Aebleskivers. 📷: @laurageneous
Magical Tivoli. 📷: @travelingoodjin
If you love Christmas but can’t bear the cold weather, try Barcelona. They have some of the most charmingly bonkers festive traditions to be discovered at their main Christmas market, Fira de Santa Llúcia. Firstly, there’s the additional character in the Catalan nativity scene: the caganer. This is a small figure of a man (or these days, a celebrity) crouching down and… having a poo. I kid you not! Adding to this theme is caga tió (‘shitting log’), a smiley-faced piece of wood that ‘poops out‘ pressies – but only once it has been beaten with a stick. Suffice to say that these loco traditions can be found all over this market plus some amazing decorations and food, including tasty churros.
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Barcelona is a skaters’ mecca but even December may be too chilly to carve up the streets. Instead, head over to Nevermind Bar where they have a bowl inside the bar!
🎄 Fira de Santa Llúcia: 24th November – 23rd December 2017
Festive without the freeze. 📷: @kuzminaayulia
Churros! 📷: @pinkfluffyglam8
Want your own pressie log to take home? 📷: @pausamar
Lighting up the iconic Thames River with festive cheer, the Southbank’s Wintertime Market is both traditional and quirky. Rows of wooden chalets, bursting with seasonal treats, are matched with fun social spaces that have previously included a roller disco and a cider lodge. Try bratwurst, bubble waffles and mulled Pimms while soaking up the Christmassy vibes. The market is part of the Southbank Centre’s Wintertime Festival, which this year has a strong Nordic influence including an ABBA singalong and a Finnish Rooftop Sauna!
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Try the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for every cheesy Xmas film your heart could desire including Elf, Love Actually and Home Alone.
🎄 Wintertime Market: 10th November – 30th December 2017
The Southbank lights up. 📷: @armourjm
Nom nom nom. 📷: @jamragmusings
Pimms at any time of the year! 📷: @nellcavallo
Winter Wonders covers almost 1.2 miles (2km) in Brussels’ Grand-Place, but no matter where you are in this picture-perfect Christmas market you can see one thing: the fantastic Ferris wheel. This 55-metre tall wheel is covered in 18,000 lights and looks magical in both the daytime and the evening. Tuck into some waffles and hot chocolate or sample the local beer, Chimay. If you’re not an ice expert and require some ‘Dutch courage’ to try the ice-skating, then sample a little jenever (Dutch gin).
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Cosy up in the dazzling grand café Le Cirio (open till midnight every day) and marvel at its beautifully preserved Art Nouveau décor.
🎄 Winter Wonders: 24th November – 31st December 2017
Don’t be blue – it’s Christmas! 📷: @tushar.swami
Wheel of wonder. 📷: @pairoftraveljunkies
How do you like your Xmas booze? 📷: @yujuhg
This iconic Scottish city kicks into Christmas mode every November with its very own festive festival! For six weeks, the centre of Edinburgh is taken over by ice skating, a Christmas Tree Maze and numerous carousels. Head to East Princes Street Gardens in Santa Land for cute red-roofed huts selling handcrafted single malt whiskies and… haggis nachos. If that makes your stomach turn, try one of the many sweet treats.
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? Head to the Spiegeltent in Festival Square this season for the astounding circus/comedy/cabaret/magic/burlesque show, La Clique Noël!
🎄 Santa Land: 18th November 2017 – 6th January 2018
Santa Land! 📷:@deemasaidi
So fresh and so sweet! 📷:@kateemwalker
Edinburgh loves Christmas! 📷:@cheriediamonds
It’s easy to find the biggest Weihnachtsmarkt in Cologne – just look out for its famous cathedral whose Gothic spires dominate the city’s skyline. Here you’ll find the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland surrounded by 150 wooden booths that fill the air with a heady festive mix of baked apples, cinnamon biscuits and Glühwein (mulled wine). Don’t miss out of the chance to grab your own festive mug for the wine from the markets to take home for the holidays.
❄️ Want to get out of the cold? The Chocolate Museum do tasting tours, which means this is pretty much the closest you’ll ever get to owning a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s.
🎄 Cathedral Christmas Market: 27th November – 23rd December 2017
Just look for the MASSIVE church. 📷:@arisharotanova
Christmas cuteness overload. 📷:@dina_kzn
Feeling festive. 📷:@saskia_grue
🎅 Which other European Christmas markets do you love? Frankfurt? Salzburg? Krakow? Strasbourg? Comment below 👇 and share the Christmassy love!