Five Not to be Missed European Christmas Markets
Christmas time in Europe follows the celebration of the Christian Advent period which stretches the four Sundays before Christmas. Typically occurring from late November up to late December, this period is a time of preparation and celebration for the soon arriving Christmas Day.
The month-long observation of Advent is officially kicked off with the annual holiday markets that can be traced back to the middle ages. Originating in Germany, the market celebrations that take place in the central town squares are called Christkindlmarkt referring to the traditional spirit of Christmas. During the Reformation period, Advent and the annual Christmas Markets events spread throughout Europe becoming a staple of the season.
During the holiday events, towns are turned into magical locations filled with colorfuk lights, customary decorations and miles and miles of stalls offering local foods, gifts and custom crafted items.
With hundreds of markets occurring annually throughout Europe, many are drawn to the most popular locations in Germany, Austria, France and Hungary. Here are five Christmas Markets that are more then worthy of adding to your visit list:
1. Prague in the Czech Republic is one of the Imperial cities of central Europe. Known for Prague Castle, the largest in Europe and the hundred churches and cathedrals you will find here which appropriately names Prague the “City of a Hundred Spires”. Architecture, art, history and scenic landscapes are all reasons travelers flock her annually.
Visiting during December adds other experiences and provides choices of holiday markets each with its own personality. The primary market can be found in the historic old town square and another large celebration is held annually at Prague Castle outside of St. George’s Basilica. Colorful booths are filled with holiday presentations and festive holiday foods.
2. Nuremberg, Germany offers one of the oldest markets in existence since the mid sixteenth century. Annually held in the market square in front of the Frauenkirche church, this Christkindlmarkt is noteable for its commitment to the Christkind Spirit. An elected local representative takes the role making appearances in her white and gold medieval attire acting as a host for the annual activities.
The Nuremberg market is unique in many ways starting with the Franconian decor, and traditions found throughout the stalls. All items sold are required to be custom hand crafted and you won’t want to miss sampling the homemade gingerbread and Nuremberg sausages.
3. Salzburg, Austria is the site of another of the older markets. A city that was built around music with ties to one of Austria’s greatest composers, Amadeus Mozart and the modern day story of the Von Trapp family, you won’t be surprised by the role that music plays in the annual Advent activities here.
The Salzburger Festival encompasses the winter wonderland experience held just outside the main square in front of the Baroque Salzburg Cathedral. However the Salzburg Advent Festival which is held at a nearby Festival hall is where you will find the vocal and musical performances that draws visitors here for holiday music. Nightly vocal and musical performances set to scenic backdrops make for memorable holiday experiences.
4. Basel, Switzerland is home to the largest Christmas Market in Switzerland. One market broken down into two locations, will offer you holiday spirit at the gateway to the country of mountainous winter-wonderland. A visit to Switzerland wouldn’t be complete without sampling some Swiss raclette, sausages and waffles accompanied by some gluhwein.
Barfüsserplatz is where you will find the locals who come out to enjoy their annual holiday festival eating and drinking in celebration with other revelers. The Münsterplatz market can be found in front of the Basel Minster cathedral in the center of the old town and is filled with holiday lights and excited visitors looking for holiday celebration.
5. Avignon is best known as the location of the former Papal Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site in France. But during the holiday season, the quaint Provencal village within the walls gets dressed up to celebrate for the season.
More of a traditional market, here is where the locals come to purchase their Christmas trees, holiday decorations and gifts for family and friends. You can enjoy regional items popularly sold only here during the holidays. The sought after spiced cake is a must and purchasing Santons, painted terracotta statues representing provincial past village life is a popular activity.
Did you know you can visit these and many other Christmas Markets as you travel along the waterways of Europe
With so many choices, Sandee at BucketList Travel Advisors can assist you with the details of planning a journey and picking the holiday festivies you won’t want to miss.