When the hush of winter falls over the European continent, it only means one thing – Christmas is around the corner! Along with it, the Christmas market season has arrived! Many of our Expat Explore winter tours include opportunities to join in these magical festivals, and over the years we’ve pinpointed our favourites.
The following Christmas markets are the cream of the crop, each boasting a remarkable destination, talented craftsmen, delicious local treats, breathtaking decorations and warm ambience. Choose one for your bucket list – there’s truly no better way to enjoy the festive spirit that sweeps over Europe during the winter!
For six weeks over the festive season, from mid-November to the beginning of January, London’s renowned Hyde Park is transformed into a frosty wonderland. This free festive event in the heart of London, United Kingdom draws visitors from near and far, with a dazzling selection of entertainment options. Entertainment includes the UK’s largest open-air ice rink, a Bavarian village, the “Arctic Circle” (which is filled with snow and ice sculptures, wondrous circus acts), Santa Land and 100+ rides and attractions.
Date: 18 November 2022 – 2 January 2023
Opening hours: Daily 10am – 10pm with last entry at 9.30pm
Location: Hyde Park, London
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest German-style holiday market held outside of Germany and Austria. The market is a result of the 50-year long partnership between the cities of Birmingham and Frankfurt. The festivities take place from mid-November all the way to the end of December. Visitors can indulge in tempting festive fare, enjoy live music and entertainment and purchase traditional gifts to take back home.
Date: 3 November to 23 December 2022
Opening hours: Daily 10am – 9pm
Location: Victoria Square and New Street
Christkindlmarkts (Christmas Markets) originated in the late middle ages in Germany with the four-week celebration of Advent. There are literally hundreds of Christmas markets held in cities, towns and villages across Germany. From the end of November up until the end of December, the country is all about sparkling lights, Christmas trees, handicrafts and sweet treats!
Munich’s largest and oldest Christmas market, Christkindlmarkt auf dem Marienplatz is known as ‘the original’ and dates back to the 1700s. Look forward to an amazing array of German wintertime staples like sizzling sausages, pretzels, gingerbread and spice-laden glühwein. Shop for homemade products like Black Forest ham, honey, schnapps and craft beer. Activities on offer include a guided tour to find out more about the culture and history, rides on the Christkindltram and even Bavarian singing lessons.
Date: 21 November – 24 December 2022
Opening hours: Daily 10am – 9pm and Sundays 10am – 8pm (24 December 9am – 2pm)
Location: Marienplatz (St.Mary’s Square) in the centre of Munich.
Related: Learn more about why glühwein is a must-have drink during Christmastime in Europe!
Regarded as one of the most lavish festive markets throughout Europe, the markets in Vilnius, Lithuania certainly pull out all the stops over the holiday season. Lithuania’s beautiful capital throws itself headfirst into festive fanfare and transforms the old Cathedral Square, City Hall Square and Bernardine Gardens into twinkling market destinations. Here, visitors can indulge in authentic Lithuanian holiday fare and shop for traditional handcrafted goods.
Date: 26 November 2022 – 8 January 2023
Location: Vilnius Cathedral Square
Related: Discover more of the best things to do and see in Vilnius!
There are two official Budapest Christmas markets – the Christmas Fair Vorosmarty Square and Basilica Christmas Market. They both run from mid-November to the end of December. The market on Vorosmarty Square is the oldest Christmas market in Budapest and is internationally acclaimed. The location is in the heart of Budapest, Hungary and takes place in an array of cottage-style wooden stalls and along two outdoor stages. It’s the perfect place to peruse the bustling marketplace while sampling delicious Hungarian festive treats like honey cookies and sweet pastries.
Date: 18 November 2022 – 1 January 2023
Opening hours: Daily 11am – 11pm
Location: End of Váci utca road, in front of Gerbeaud Coffee House.
Related: Find even more reasons to visit Budapest in 2022 and beyond!
The Prague Christmas Market offers a truly idyllic market experience. Spread out over many blocks within the centre of Prague, Czech Republic all within walking distance of one another. Holidaymakers can look forward to an authentic manger scene, a nativity-themed zoo (wonderful for curious youngsters), a giant Christmas tree and a marvellous array of traditional handcrafted gifts like wooden toys, puppets, intricate glassware, embroidered lace and more. If you visit, remember to try the trdelnik (traditional cake and sweet pastry), vánocvka (a braided raisin pastry), and vosí hnízda (biscuits crammed with nuts and rum).
Date: 25 November 2022 – 6 January 2023
Location: Old Town to Wenceslas Square
Renowned for its fabulous festive splendour, the Wiener Weihnachtstraum (Vienna Christmas Dream) Viennese Christmas Market takes place in front of the City Hall in Vienna, Austria. It’s certainly a seasonal highlight for visitors and locals alike. Against this magnificent backdrop, market goers can indulge in festive Viennese treats like vanillekipferl (crescent-shaped Christmas biscuits) or mouth-watering sacher torte (chocolate cake with jam). Listen to international choirs singing carols or partake in workshops where you can learn to make Christmas cookies or candles!
Date: 19 November – 26 December 2022
Location: Square in front of City Hall
The much-loved Christmas Village Belvedere Palace is the perfect place to explore the city’s baroque lifestyle and traditional Viennese handicrafts. All this is set against the backdrop of one of the world’s most famous residences, Belvedere Palace. This beautiful Christmas market features 40+ festive stalls that specialise in tempting holiday cuisine, beautifully crafted decorations, inventive gifts and more.
Date: 18 November – 26 December 2022
Location: Christmas Belvedere Palace
Set against opulent imperial scenery, the Christmas Village Maria-Theresien Platz takes place between the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art. This singular setting provides a rich, historical tapestry against which visitors and locals can enjoy the unique culinary delights and festively decorated stalls we’ve come to expect from the Viennese.
Date: 16 November – 26 December
Location: Christmas Belvedere Palace
The city of Stockholm, Sweden is home to a number of Christmas markets. One of the most famous ones is the Gamla Stans Julmarknad in the Old Town. This is the oldest market in Stockholm and has been going since 1914! The Kungstradgården Christmas Market in the heart of the city is where artisans and local merchants offer handcrafted products from the forest and sea.
Gamla Stan, Stockholm Christmas Market
Date: 29 November – 23 December 2022
Opening hours: Daily 11am – 6pm
Location: Stortorget Square (Old Town)
Related: Looking for more reasons to visit Sweden? Look no further!
The annual Mercatini di Natale in Verona, Italy takes place from mid-November to late December and transforms this already jaw-dropping destination into a festive dreamland. It features 300+ stalls offering regional foods, beautiful handicrafts and all sorts of German specialities. This Italian/German cross-over makes for a wonderful multi-cultural festive event. Look out for the nativity scenes from around the world exhibited in the underground passageways of the Roman Arena, and don’t forget to sample some fragrant panettone or nutty croccante!
Date: 18 November – 26 December 2022
Location: Piazza dei Signori, Verona
This market hosted in Piazza Santa Croce was inspired by the traditional German Heidelberg market. You will find more than 55 wooden huts selling traditional German delicacies and different products like furniture, Christmas decorations and delicious snacks such as strudel and gingerbread.
Date: 19 November – 18 December 2022
Location: Piazza Santa Croce, Florence
The most famous of all Italian Christmas markets is found in the “Eternal City.” The Mercatino di Natale della Befana is hosted in the ancient Piazza Navona where the Stadium of Domitian, Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers and the Pamphilj Palace are located. Watch street performers while you browse the wonderful array of things to buy like Befana puppets, local art, Christmas decorations and toys.
Date: End December – Early January
Opening hours: Weekdays 10am – 1am; weekends and holidays 10am – 2am
Location: Piazza Navona, Rome
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is home to dozens of Christmas markets that spread festive cheer throughout the city! The festive season in Amsterdam officially kicks off in early December with the annual Turn on the Lights event at the De Bijenkorf building on Dam Square. The duration of the Christmas markets vary, but most market are open from late November to early January. Top picks include the markets at Leidseplein and Museumplein, where visitors can stroll amidst villages of wooden chalets while they indulge in warming drinks and the national festive treat – olibollen (Dutch doughnuts). Another unmissable festive event is Amsterdam Light Festival in January!
Date: From mid-November to early January
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10am – 11pm, Weekends, 10am – midnight.
Location: Square on the crossroads of Weteringschans, Marnix, and Leidsestraat.
Date: Usually from the end of November – January
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 10am-9pm, Friday to Saturday 10am – 1pm
Location: Front of the Rijksmuseum
Please note some of the Amsterdam Christmas market dates still need to be confirmed.
The Scottish capital is renowned for its festive flair, it’s the home of Hogmanay after all! Its main advent market stretches all the way from the Mound, along East Princes Street Gardens to the Scott Monument. This sweeping winter wonderland features countless vendors touting local arts and crafts, as well as a slew of culinary purveyors to keep the crowds warm and well-fed. Look out for the Children’s Market at Santa Land (late November – early January) where youngsters can traverse the Christmas Tree Maze to the elves’ workshop. Take a spin on the Big Wheel at the city centre to see the entire festive tableau from above!
Date: 19 November – 3 January 2023
Opening hours: Daily 10am – 10pm
Location: East Princess Street Gardens, around the Scott monuments up to St Andrew Square.
Related: Take a tour of Scotland when your join our Great Britain New Year tour!
The capital of Denmark is home to various markets which feature a vast array of artisanal delights. These items include – knitted crafts, rich leather goods and intricate glass ornaments to name a few. Head to the market at Tivoli Gardens for 60+ stalls, a fireworks festival and live performances by the Pixie Band. Or, make your way to the market at the harbour in Nyhavn to enjoy waterside mulled wine and Danish festive treats.
Date: 4 November – 21 December 2022
Opening hours: Daily 10am – Midnight
Location: Tivoli Gardens
Are you feeling festive yet? Experience the magic of a European winter and explore one, or more, of these fabulous Christmas markets on a Christmas and New Year’s tour!
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