Often our British counterparts don’t quite understand why we get so excited about European Christmas Markets, but for us Antipodeans it is simply such a magical experience and one we are quite unaccustomed to from growing up with warm and sunny Christmas’s at home.
So last year when I made my first venture into Europe I went a little Christmas Market crazy. Here are the five Christmas Markets that I was most surprised by how awesome they were – with the most unexpected at the end.
Prague, Czech Republic – Old Town Square
This probably seems like an obvious one to those more knowledgeable about eastern Europe than I was last year, but I never expected to find such a warm and heartfelt square of market stalls among the spires and cobblestones of Prague’s dimly lit streets.
Market favourite: Painted glass and porcelain tealight candles (pictured above).
Vienna, Austria – Wiener Christkindlmarkt
A relatively relaxed market for its size lays in the frosty grounds beneath Vienna’s grand Rathaus. What made this one a little different last year was the display of different Christmas figures from around Europe including Lucia (Denmark), Befana (Italy) and Santa Claus (Finland).
Copenhagen, Denmark – Tivoli Gardens
Properly described as an amusement park, rather than just a market, Tivoli has some of the most magical spirit in all seasons. Christmas is an extra special time to visit though as children and adults alike enjoy the gardens dressed up for the special holiday opening period.
Cologne, Germany – Alter Markt
Perhaps the most unexpected part about arriving in Cologne is stumbling out of the main station smack into their famous Cathedral. From there it’s not far to Cologne’s Old Town Market. Like something out of your favourite festive story book, last year it featured a figure eight shaped ice rink with overhanging viewing bridge, and curling for those keen for a little friendly Christmas competition.
Hamburg, Germany – Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkt & Winter Pride
Hamburg definitely takes top spot for the most unexpectedly awesome Christmas vibe. Imagine walking into Santas toy workshop and I think that will be something like what you’ll experience upon entering the Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkt.
Market favourite: Fried mushrooms drenched in garlic sauce.
If you’re looking for something a little more unique, the smaller Winter Pride Market provides a much more cosy experience. Settle into the stable like grounds with live music, delicious snacks and mulled wine to keep you warm all night long.
Warm wishes to you this festive season!