If you want to experience Old World Holiday fun this year and you either live in Europe or plan to visit there, you’ll want to put at least one of the festive Christmas Markets on your travel agenda. Known for handmade crafts, a dizzying array of food and drink and a festive environment, Europe’s Christmas Bazaars are fantastic destinations.
What to Expect
Christmas Bazaars begin their holiday celebrations on the Friday before the first Sunday in Advent and continue on until December 24th. The Old Town sections of major European cities get all decked out in holiday lights, greens and décor of all kinds. Christmas pastries, cakes, and candies are sold as well as handmade decorations and gift items such as wooden toys. You’ll find ornaments, jewelry, clothing and holiday decoration items in hundreds of stalls and shops. A festive atmosphere marks each bazaar site and you can enjoy mulled wine, rum punch and beer served along with special treats such as roasted almonds and dried fruits. Demonstrations of old-time crafts such as glass-blowing and woodworking will entertain and in some locations there are stagecoach or toboggan rides available. Some travel agencies plan special Holiday Cruises or Tours for the express purpose of attending these wonderful bazaars. If you choose to go on a tour, be sure to book early. Here are some of the top European Christmas Bazaar locations
Nuremburg’s Christkindlesmarkt celebration dates back to the 1600’s. This little town of “wood and cloth” hosts a huge celebration during the Christmas holiday. Stagecoach tours ride guests through streets filled with stalls boasting local craft items and holiday delicacies. Wooden puppets, gingerbread cookies and nativity scenes are for sale. Nuremburg’s famous Prune Men are figures made of prunes and are available in 350 different characters. Goldfoil angels known as Rauschgoldengels are part of the décor and are available to purchase as well. A Children’s Market boasts merry go rounds, ferris wheels, and hands on stalls where children can help bake goodies, enjoy puppet presentations and hear fairy tales read aloud. A Lantern Procession is another highlight of this wonderful Christmas Bazaar.
The magic of Austria is found in all the prettiest plazas around the old city of Vienna during the Christmas season. This city has enjoyed the Christmas Bazaar each holiday season since 1772. Each public square becomes a fairytale land of lights and decorations as hundreds of stalls sell their Christmas wares. Some of the most beautiful plazas include The Rathausplatz, Maria-Theresian Plaza, The Freyung Market and Amhof Advent Market. In each of these you’ll find food and drink galore, plus handcrafts and gifts including ceramic products. Advent music graces the night air and the traditional mulled wine and gingerbread are enjoyed by the crowds. Other Christmas treats include sausages, baked potatoes and sweet chestnuts.
Between Frankfurt and Munich on the legendary Romantic Road, you’ll find the walled city of Rothenburg. It was built in 1142 and is the best preserved medieval city in Germany. Rothenburg celebrates Christmas all year long, but its special Reiterlesmarkt celebration during the holidays is known all over Europe. All the usual food, drink and craft items are available here but in addition you’ll find the delectable schneeball (snowball) which is made of strips of sweetened fried dough which is covered with powdered sugar or chocolate.
If you want the experience of a German Christmas Bazaar, but find yourself in England, why not visit Birmingham for their annual German Christmas Bazaar? Birmingham’s Christmas Market dates from 2005, but has a great reputation for representing the traditional German festival well. Most of the stalls are manned by German people selling German wares. The potato crepes and brats are some of the best-loved food items. The evenings are especially festive when the lights add holiday ambiance to the market.
For Christmas Cruises and Tours: Viking River Cruises