In the summer, there are farmer markets, but once the weather gets colder, the booths get packed up and there’s nothing to do on Saturday mornings anymore. As the holiday season approaches, however, many cities come alive again with Christmas markets. They are the perfect places to find local art, listen to music, and sample holiday goodies. Here are five of the best found around the world:
Held from November 24-December 24, this market in Dresden, Germany is the country’s oldest. Millions attend every year, taking in the sights of the gorgeous city and unique crafts such as Erzgebrige Mountains candleholders, Plauen filigree lace products, Pulsnitz gingerbread, and the local Pflaumentoffel, which is a chimney-sweep character made of dried prunes. You can watch some crafts in action, too, like the glass-blowers and bakers.
The highlight of the Dresden market is the Christmas pyramid, which stretches over 45 feet, and the world’s biggest nutcracker. Bakers will also prepare a giant version of a traditional German fruitcake and dole out slices. No one does Christmas quite like the Germans, and this market proves it.
Tivoli Gardens market, Copenhagen
Found in the capital city of Denmark, this market hosts 50 stalls selling arts, crafts, and refreshment. It isn’t the largest market on this list, so if you’re easily overwhelmed by crowds, this is a nicely-sized option. Children are more than welcome with special events and rides just for them, like the Elf Train and Winged Wheel. Take them to the free Honey Cake Castle, where “elves” bake classic Danish Honnighjerter, or honey hearts, which you get to decorate if you so choose. When it gets dark, the garden comes alive with thousands of lights. This market runs till December 31st.
Edinburgh Christmas Market, Scotland
This huge Scottish Christmas market runs from 21st of November all through December to January 4th, so it’s perfect for those who still want to celebrate once December 25th has come and gone. You’ll find a huge variety of foods from all around Europe, like sweet waffles, hot mulled wine, bratwurst, and more. The market also hosts lots of free events, such as “Light Night,” which expects an audience of 20,000 people. Fireworks will be set off on George Street while choirs from Scotland perform. If you love ice skating, check out St. Andrew’s Square, which gives you the opportunity to skate around the square.
Winter Wonders, Brussels
This huge market in Belgium hosts more than 200 booths and stretches across the city. You’ll find a skating rink, a huge tree, and even a Ferris wheel. It runs from November 30 all the way through January 6th. Events include concerts and light shows, and even a guided tour in English for tourists. Famous for their chocolate and waffles, it will be no struggle to eat and drink your fill at this Belgian market. If just one market isn’t enough for you, Brussels actually holds a handful of shorter ones, including one featuring artisans in castle Karreveld from December 14-16.
The Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg
No list of Christmas markets would be complete with the the Strasbourg one in France. It is the oldest market in all of Europe (the first was held in 1570) and stretches throughout 11 sites in the city and holds over 500 events. You’ll find ice-skating, gorgeous lights, crafts, and and unique food and drink like hot mulled white wine, Alsace Christmas biscuits, and of course, gingerbread. Tragically, this year was marred by gun violence. Four people were killed and others wounded. The market has reopened with added security measures and will end on its scheduled date of December 24th.
Does your family always hit up a Christmas market during the holidays? Here are the stories behind some other traditions.