5 Worldwide Christmas Markets to Visit

Strasbourg Christmas Market courtesy Office de Tourisme de Strasbourg

When you think of Christmas Markets the first place that comes to mind are the traditional ones located in Europe – specifically in Germany and Austria, where old cobbled streets decorated with stringed lights house wooden chalet stalls that sell everything festive.

Strasbourg, France

Located in the Rhine Valley, Strasbourg is a sprawling metropolitan city. It has a mix of French and German cultures because of its proximity to the German border. Here you will find the Christkindelsmarik or Christmas Market which is the oldest in France. Located in Place Broglie near the gothic Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg the area comes to life with over 300 chalet-style booths, singing choirs of people, hot mulled wine and trinkets for the Christmas season.  The market gets busier as the time progresses with about 2 million visitors during the season, but it only adds to the atmosphere and excitement. There is also the aroma of baked goods especially Gingerbread which comes on all shapes, sizes and varieties. Do try the traditional Bredele cookies which rich butter cookies.

Imperial Palace ©WienTourismus by Manfred Horvath

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is the capital city of Austria and is known as the City of Music because some of the world’s greatest composers either grew up or worked here. There are numerous Christmas markets around Vienna but none as large as the Wiener Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz situated in front of the town hall. It has over 150 stalls which opens mid November and goes all the way to Christmas Eve.  One of the bonuses of the market is the presence of music which is represented by national and international choirs, orchestras and wind ensembles. Along with the usual trinkets, décor, food and drink in Vienna they have a special program me that caters to children. This includes craft workshops, puppet shows, the reading of fairytales, an interactive game station, Santa visits and Guardian Angels who visit children with gifts.

Vieux Quebec courtesy Office du tourisme de Québec by Jean-François Bergeron

Quebec, Canada

Quebec City is in French Canada on top of Cape Diamond on two levels Haute-Ville and Basse-Ville. This French speaking city has visible signs of its European history in the buildings, festivals and of course the Quebec Christmas Market. It is situated at the Old Port Market during November into December. It offers visitors the chance to interact with cheery vendors housed inside of wooden kiosks who sell a variety of seasonal gifts, decorations and crafts. The aroma in the market place is filled with Christmas goodies to eat from the traditional spicy gingerbread, to the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. So, don’t miss the Marché de Noël Signature or Christmas Market in Quebec which is hailed as one of the most authentic Christmas markets outside of Europe.

Navy Pier courtesy Illinois Tourism

Chicago, IL, USA .

Chicago is in the state of Illinois in the Midwest of the United States and nicknamed the Windy City. It is home to about 2.7 million people from all areas of the world. In recent years it has established a thriving Christkindlmarket or Christmas Market at the Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago.  The month long market begins in mid November to December and is the setting of the annual traditional tree lighting celebration. Modeled on the Nuremberg Christmas Market of Germany, visitors can browse through the red and white tents that sell ornaments, decorations, food, drink and much, much more including goods from companies from various German towns. This is one of the best Christmas markets in the US with about 300,000 visitors.

Photo courtesy Cologne Tourist Board

Cologne, Germany

Once ruled by the Roman Emperor Claudius Cologne is one of the oldest cities in Germany. It has character, history and culture in the form of the world largest gothic cathedral, ancient monuments, and its own philharmonic and visually stunning art pieces. Come November the city plays host to the ever popular Christmas markets with not just one but several. The best one is the Kolner Weihnachtsmarkt or the Cologne Market which comprises of several markets in various locations with different themes. There is a free shuttle as part of the park and ride for visitors. Look out for the traditional Gluhwein stall that’s the spicy mulled red wine which is served hot to warm you. Ensure you go to the Dom market which is the biggest one close to the Cologne Cathedral on the banks of the Rhine River. Here you will find over 160 wooden stalls Look out for Santa’s grotto, children’s theatre and puppet shows.

The allure of Christmas markets are growing and being developed across the world, allowing more people to engage in a cheerful festival unmatched by indoor malls or retail shops. The sights, sounds and smells of the markets attract growing crowds who delight in outdoor shopping under the stars with a cold nip in the air buying gifts, food and drink with special holiday cheer.

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