The best Christmas markets in Europe

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From traditional Danish decorations to handcrafted wooden toys in Italy and hip Helsinki designs, the Christmas markets in Europe are brilliant for scooping up really original Christmas presents that you won’t find on the high street. Here are the best. We’ll be updating our guide regularly as the restrictions change and more timings become available – but we recommend you look at individual market websites direct before you visit, should any have since closed at short notice.

  • The best Christmas markets in Europe

    ZAGREB CHRISTMAS MARKET, CROATIA

    BEST FOR: A CITY-WIDE CELEBRATION

    From the tunnel of intertwined branches that twinkle with white lights between Gajeva Street and Praška Street to the ice rink in King Tomislav Square, the Croatian capital goes all out at Christmas. Wooden chalets line a handful of streets selling everything from knitted scarves and mittens to sweet almonds and decorations for the tree. Don’t miss Park Zrinjevac, where you’ll find more artisanal gifts and can sample Zagreb specialities such as krpice sa zeljem (pasta with cabbage) and apple strudel at food stalls beside the bandstand.

    Dates: 27 November 2020 to 3 January 2021


    Address: Gajeva Street and Bogovićeva Street; Park Zrinjevac


    Website: adventzagreb.com

  • The best Christmas markets in Europe

    TIVOLI GARDENS CHRISTMAS MARKET, COPENHAGEN,

    BEST FOR: DANISH DECORATIONS

    Historic amusement park Tivoli Gardens is transformed into a Winter Wonderland in the run-up to Christmas, with more than half a million twinkling lights, toe-tapping festive tunes played by the Tivoli Youth Guard band and Scandinavian-style wooden huts in the Christmas Village market. An old steam train is parked up outside a specially decorated station building, with stalls set up in each wagon selling aebleskiver (apple dumplings) and glögg (mulled wine) alongside typically Danish decorative ornaments such as the ever-popular pixie.

    Dates: 13 November 2020 to 3 January 2021


    Address: Tivoli Gardens, Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 Copenhagen, Denmark


    Website: tivoligardens.com

  • The best Christmas markets in Europe

    SALZBURG CHRISTKINDLMARKT, SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

    BEST FOR: A WORLD HERITAGE-LISTED SETTING

    In the heart of the old city with the cathedral as a backdrop, around 100 stalls make up this centuries-old Christmas market which spreads across two neighbouring squares, Domplatz and Residenzplatz. From gingerbread and schnapps to hand-painted baubles and frankincense, everything associated with advent can be found here. There’s a daily programme of events, including musical performances from quintet choirs, a capella ensembles, gospel singers and folk groups, plus afternoon readings of Christmas stories for children.

    Dates: 19 November to 26 December 2020


    Address: Domplatz and Residenzplatz, Salzburg, Austria


    Website: christkindlmarkt.co.at

  • The best Christmas markets in Europe

    STRASBOURG CHRISTMAS MARKET, FRANCE

    BEST FOR: ALSACE TRADITIONS

    Giant chandeliers, a white crystal tree, thousands of twinkling lights on church façades – the city of Strasbourg is full of feel-good festiveness. There has been a Christmas market here since 1570 (it’s the oldest in France); last year more than 300 wooden chalets were set up in Cathedral Square and Place Broglie, selling everything from handmade decorations and baubles to blown-glass candles and traditional bredele butter biscuits from the Alsace region. For children, there are arts and craft workshops and an ice skating rink in Place Kléber.

    Dates: From 28 November 2020


    Address: Cathedral Square, Strasbourg, France


    Website: noel.strasbourg.eu

  • The best Christmas markets in Europe

    ADVENT FEAST AT THE BASILICA, BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

    BEST FOR: INCREDIBLE 3D ARTWORKS

    Each evening during advent in Budapest, festive stories and religious scenes are projected onto the façade of St Stephen’s Basilica in an extraordinary light show (each scene lasts several minutes and starts on the half hour). This is also the site of the open-air market where around 160 stalls sell a mix of Hungarian handcrafted items (ceramic trees, individually painted Russian dolls, gemstone jewellery) and snacks, including flodni, a sticky apple, walnut and poppy-seed cake, popular with locals.

    Dates: 20 November 2020 to 1 January 2021


    Address: Szent Istvan Ter, 1051 Budapest


    Website: adventbazilika.hu

  • The best Christmas markets in Europe

    HELSINKI CHRISTMAS MARKET, FINLAND

    BEST FOR: COOL DESIGN

    Given Finland’s reputation for sterling design, it’s no surprise that there is a considered, stylish approach to what’s on sale (the face of the market is multidisciplinary Finnish designer Linda Bergroth, whose projects have included a zero-waste bistro installation at 2018’s WantedDesign Manhattan fair). Around 130 vendors set up pitches selling typically Finnish handmade products: himmeli ornaments (geometric mobiles made of straw), pine and birch tar candles, cosy wool socks and contemporary jewellery. Local restaurants have pop-ups serving special holiday menus, and there’s also a merry-go-round. An integral part of Helsinki’s pikkujoulu (pre-Christmas party) season.

  • The best Christmas markets in Europe

    TALLINN CHRISTMAS MARKET, ESTONIA

    BEST FOR: COSY KNITS

    The tradition of putting up a Christmas tree in Tallinn’s Town Hall Square dates back to 1441, and it is still the big December draw in the medieval Old Town today. The surrounding market is pretty small – only around 30 wooden chalets – but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in cheer. Christmas songs play over the speakers, and the scents of traditional Estonian dishes and snacks – black pudding, sour cabbage, gingerbread – fill the air. Warm up with hot, rum-based Vana Tallinn liqueur before shopping for woollen hats, wooden chopping boards and snuggly jumpers.


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