If you are following me on Instagram or Twitter, you will know about my fascination for Christmas markets. I wait for these markets whole year. These markets announce the arrival of the long winter but in a happy cheerful way. They commence the Christmas celebrations.
What are Christmas markets, actually?
Few weeks before Christmas, these temporary markets attract people in different part of the European cities. There are hundreds of stalls for local food, drinks, handmade artisanal products, Christmas decorations and a lot more items. These markets light up the busy cities and invite all the locals and tourists for the fun evenings in otherwise cold and dark evenings.
Most of the European Christmas markets start from the third week of November and go at least till 23rd or noon of 24th of December. Some of them, like in Munich (Winter Tollwood), Prague and Budapest, are open even till New years eve!
These markets grace almost all the big and small cities in Europe. Most of the big cities have multiple markets. In last 4 years, I have had my fair share of Christmas festivities at several markets in small and big towns in France, Germany and Switzerland (Munich (Marienplatz, Odeonsplatz, Pink market, Haidhausen), Augsburg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Lausanne, Montreux, Zürich, Pfaffenhofen, Paris). Soon, I will be off to chill at the Christmas markets in Prague and Budapest.
What to eat/drink?
Christmas markets are full of food stalls. From local specialities to international street food, different markets have different specialities. Amongst other specialities, you can easily find sausages, roast, flammkuchen, raclette, fondue, crepes, chocolate covered fruits, gingerbread cookies, assortments of caramalized nuts and a lot more items local to the cities and countries.
Most popular drink is Gluhwein, which is wine mulled with different spices and is served hot. Other most common drinks are firebowl, flavored Gluhwein, hot beer, tea and coffee.
What to buy?
These markets are full of local assortment of handmade products from shawls, scarfs, hats, candles, to Christmas tree decorations. I bought a handmade hat once. Expensive but I just loved it.
Why Christmas Markets?
Christmas markets set you ready for upcoming Christmas. The festivities and charm is unmatched. Winters are long and dark in most of Europe. These markets and celebrations give a break to the otherwise dark days. Because of the cold weather, Winter is considered off-season to visit Europe but as I have explained before why Off-season travel is better, these markets are definitely one more reason to travel to Europe in winters, considered off-season otherwise.
- Try different variations of Gluhwine. So far, I have tried cherry, strawberry and black berry flavoured ones. They are also offered with a shot of liquor like Amaretto etc.
- Although the Christmas market is the center of the cities are lighted up and very nice, I will advice to also step back and try the ones a bit out of the city. They are calm and charming. You can see lots of families with their kids and witness a more local aspect of these markets.
- Try the local food! Lots of it 🙂
I love all the Christmas markets. To some, they all seem the same and to others, each one of them is different from other ones. One thing they always have in common is the welcoming Christmas vibe and the air of festivity. So get up and visit the one close to your place today! Let the festivity in. And don’t forget to have a Gluhwine on my behalf. Cheers!
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