During the weeks before Christmas, holiday markets open across Europe and America. Crowds gather to watch Christmas carolers, lantern processions, and tree lightings, while they browse stands of handmade gifts, toys, and decorations. The markets are the perfect place to warm up with a glass of mulled wine, or satisfy your sweet tooth with a Christmas treat. Whether you're taking in Strasbourg's sparkling Christmas tree, or sampling gingerbread at the Tallinn Christmas market, you can't help but get in the holiday spirit. Here are our picks for the world's best holiday markets.
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Where: Nuremberg, Germany
The Christkindlesmarkt at Nuremburg is arguably the most popular European Christmas market. The market opens the Friday before the first Sunday of advent, and crowds gather to watch Christkind open the festivities. More than 180 wooden stands shimmer with colorful Christmas lights featuring handcrafted Christmas ornaments, toys, games, and holiday treats. Visitors can enjoy cups of mulled wine and rum punch, or sample Nüremberg bratwurst and gingerbread. End the night with a carriage ride around Old Town, and take in the Christmas greens and decorations.
Insider Tip: Every year, Nuremberg schoolchildren take part in a lantern procession that passes through the market. Don't miss the event, which usually takes place the week before Christmas.
When: November 29 - December 24
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Nuremberg Guide
Photo Credit: Radu Razvan/Shutterstock
Where: Strasbourg, France
Known as the "Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg is home to Christkindlesmarik, France's oldest and best Christmas market. Christkindelsmarik comprises twelve markets that are organized by product. Visitors can sample bretzels, pain d'épices, and hot spiced wine at the Alsatian food stands at Place des Meuniers, or stop by the Place de la Gare market to browse local produce and crafts. Place Kléber holds the piece de resistance: a giant Christmas tree with shimmering ornaments and lights.
Insider Tip: Visitors will find 60 small wooden huts in Place Kléber, where different organizations take donations and explain their charitable mission. In keeping with holiday spirit, many visitors leave gifts by the Christmas tree for those in need.
When: November 29 - December 31
Where to Stay: Hotel Gutenberg is steps away from the market, and faces the city's famous cathedral. Sofitel Strasbourg, located in the center of the city, is only a short walk from the Christmas festivities.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Strasbourg Guide
Photo Credit: MattJP
TIVOLI GARDENS' CHRISTMAS MARKET
Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen are known for amusement park rides and restaurants, but the Gardens are also home to a vibrant Christmas market. Every year in November, the park is decked with bright lights and decorations, and transformed into a Christmas village. Fifty different stalls line the park's pathways and offer traditional Christmas products and entertainment. Guests can visit Father Christmas in his den, purchase Scandinavian knitwear and traditional Christmas tree decorations, and sample Danish holiday treats: "aebleskive," a pan-baked doughnut, and "glögg," a spiced wine with raisins and almonds.
Insider Tip: Many restaurants in Tivoli offer traditional Danish "julefrokost," or Christmas lunch. The holiday feast includes pickled herring, meatballs, roast pork, fried duck, cheese, and rice pudding. Visitors won't walk away hungry.
When: November 15 - December 31
Where to Stay: For warm Danish hospitality and an upscale atmosphere, check into Hotel Tiffany. The hotel is located near Tivoli Gardens and the city's shopping district.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Copenhagen Guide