Nothing says Christmas like warm drinks, cold weather, and tons of things to buy. Well if you visit any number of Christmas markets around the world you’re likely to find all three of these in spades. Join us as we pick our 6 favourites from right in our own backyard to the heart of Europe!
6. Paris, France
Paris is a popular tourist destination year round, but in Christmas it really lights up – literally! Stalls serving up ‘vin chaud’ and other winter drinks and treats combine with rides, craft stalls, Christmas music, and even an ice skating rink. Where is the Paris Christmas market you ask? Right on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. If you don’t find the perfect gift at the Christmas market you are sure to find it at one of the many major stores and boutiques leading up to the Arc de Triomphe.
5. Manchester, England
It’s not the only market in the UK but it is the oldest and, in our humble opinion, the best. Taking place in the rejuvenated city centre, England’s preeminent northern city offers up great food from all over, drinks, and appropriately Christmas (or Yuletide as some people still evidently say) themed gifts and decorations. We’ve recommended Manchester as a great place to visit anytime of the year, but you might as well kill two birds with one stone and join in the festivities!
4. Toronto, Ontario
We’ll admit a small (okay, a large) degree of hometown bias, but anyone who has visited the Toronto Christmas Market before shouldn’t doubt its inclusion on this list. Taking the already atmospheric Distillery District and turning it into a fairytale neighborhood with all the holiday trappings you’d expect, it delivers everything you’d hope for without the need to travel across an ocean. If you haven’t had time to visit this year, be sure to make it out before it’s too late!
3. Vienna, Austria
Dating back to the 13th century, the Christmas market in Austria’s capital has a few years on Toronto at least. Taking an already classically beautiful cityscape and ‘holidaying’ it up creates the exact ambience you’d expect. Austrian staples like great baked goods and delicious drinks are available in spades while workshops and other events are constantly ongoing.
2. Nuremberg, Germany
Probably the country most associated with the traditional Christmas market, nearly every city (and town) in Germany gets into the holiday spirit. While more popular tourist destinations might draw the eyes of visitors the rest of the year, it’s Nuremberg that is arguably home to the preeminent market in the country (or all of Europe some would say). There’s definitely a bit more of a religious slant to some of the proceedings, but visitors of any creed with enjoy the traditional German food and beer as they cavort with nearly 2 million other attendees.
1. Strasbourg, France
The most ‘German’ city in France may just beat the neighbouring country at its own game. By some accounts Europe’s first Christmas market, the festivities spread across a huge amount of area in the city centre with shows (both secular and religious), cultural events, and the usual great food and drink you’ve come to expect from every place that made our list. You can’t really go wrong with any European market, but if you have a choice…we’d put Strasbourg at the top of the list.
For the most up to date security information in all country’s with Christmas markets, check the Canadian travel advisory website.
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