Europe has long been a dream destination for many Hong Kong people, and experiencing a white Christmas on the continent should definitely be on your bucket list. Christmas in Europe offers a totally unique vibe, with the colours, lights, music and smell of fresh cooked food all helping to create a wonderful festive atmosphere. It might not be easy for us to travel around the world this year, but why not learn more about the different Christmas markets in Europe and be prepared for when travel opens up again.
Origin of the Christmas Market
It all started in Germany and Austria around 800 years ago. Christmas was a purely religious event in the beginning, but it later became a holiday tradition celebrated by people across Europe, with Christmas markets becoming an important part of the festivities. The markets are a great destination for yuletide shopping, and in addition to festive food you’ll be able to buy a variety of Christmas decorations, enjoy different festive events and have fun on carnival rides. Christmas markets generally run from late November through to Christmas Eve.
Best WOW Recommended Christmas Markets in Europe
Nuremberg | Germany
Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany and one of the most famous in the world. Its history can be traced back to the 17th century. During Advent, the Christkind was the traditional giver of gifts in Germany and some of its neighbouring countries, and it was said that on the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent, the Christkind invited everyone to gather at the market. That is how the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt began – and the Christkind tradition continues today. A magical festive atmosphere fills the city’s Christmas market, where you can buy traditional and handmade products at the many stalls and enjoy Nuremberg sausages and beer. You will also find nutcrackers all around the market!
Strasbourg | France
Founded more than 400 years ago, the Capital of Christmas in Strasbourg is Europe’s oldest market and a wonderful feast for the senses. Offering hundreds of traditional market stalls crowded into the city’s central squares, the Christmas Market attracts more than 2 million visitors every year. There are plenty of tasty treats on offer, including bredele – biscuits or small cookies baked during the Christmas period. Tarte flambée is also a must-try dish at the market, featuring a thin crust typically topped with sour cream, bacon and onions. You will also find a variety of Alsace crafts for sale at the market, along with plenty of storks, the city’s mascot.
Prague | Czech Republic
The Prague Christmas Market is held in the Old Town Square and is a key ingredient of the festive magic in the Czech Republic. It was named as the “must-go Christmas Market” by CNN. The market offers a fairytale-like scene, with magnificent medieval buildings, Gothic churches, Christmas trees and festive music, bringing locals and tourists together in a true “winter wonderland” setting. There’s plenty of shopping as well as an abundance of food. Popular snacks include a variety of traditional Eastern European delicacies such as hot, freshly made sugar coated pastry (trdelník), tasty grilled sausages (klobása), famous local beers such as Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and Budvar, and medovina, a sweet Czech mead.
Vienna | Austria
Vienna | Austria
Vienna, considered one of the cultural capitals of the world, was one of first European cities to offer a Christmas market. Vienna Christmas World is located in front of the famous City Hall and features around 150 Christmas stalls along with a huge ice rink. It’s the perfect place for a family outing, with the kids able to enjoy attractions such as merry-go-rounds and a reindeer train ride. Enjoy Weihnachtspunsch – a Christmas fruit punch – at the market to feel the true warmth of Christmas in Vienna.
Budapest | Hungary
Different from other Christmas markets in Europe, the market located in Budapest’s Vörösmarty Square opens in early November. Around 100 stalls are set up around the central Christmas tree that is decorated with brightly coloured ornaments. With the air filled with the sweet aroma of cookies, mulled wine and cinnamon, the market features stalls selling traditional Hungarian crafts such as stem glass, wood carvings and embroidery. As well as enjoying different traditional cultural activities and music performances at the market, you can also enjoy local street food such as chimney cake (kutos kalacs) as you experience the romance of a Czech Christmas.