It’s the time of the year when houses are decorated with festive lights and children are eagerly waiting for holiday celebrations like traditional Christmas markets, open in public squares around the world.
Christmas markets present traditional food, culture, and most importantly: a story. Let’s venture around Europe to check some out!
Austria – Rathaus in Vienna
A celebrated Christmas market, the Rathaus Market is located in Vienna’s Rathausplatz plaza and this year is open from November 19th – December 26th.
The stalls offer traditional Austrian and Hungarian dishes, most commonly sweet treats. Staples are mulled wine and various handcrafted decorations made out of fabric and wood.
The stalls that sell all the decorations, food, and beverages are all operated by businesses and individuals that rent the space.
A famous attraction you cannot miss is the famous ice skating rink in the middle of the market – a fun experience for families and couples spending the night out.
Austria has several Christmas markets, however this one is one of the biggest and most liked markets in the world!
Romania – Piața Constituției in Bucharest
This Bucharest Christmas market is very traditional and gives you an insight into the local culture and traditions. Piața Constituției is a famous market that is organized by the mayor’s office. This year it is opened from November 20th until December 26th.
The market offers traditional and cultural Romanian food, traditional Romanian clothing, decorations, hot wine, handmade decorations, and the annual Ferris wheel.
“My dad taught me how to make Cozonac from a young age. He passed away 2 years ago so this stand has another meaning for me.” – Anonymous
Cozonac is a traditional Romanian sweet cake, rich in milk, eggs and butter, that is enjoyed across Southeast Europe; countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, North Macedonia, Greece, and others.
You may notice Romanian flags and decorations in Christmas markets. They are usually in celebration of Christmas, although they also represent the Independence Day of Romania that takes place on the 1st of December.
Denmark – Julemarked Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen
In the months of November and December 2022, the Christmas market in Copenhagen has the perfect mix of shopping, food, and traditional music. Interestingly, many of the stands aren’t actually operated by local people, but by foreigners.
This stand sells old-fashioned British fudge in hopes of expanding and teaching others about their tradition. The owner says, “I have worked at the family company for 6 years. In fact, it is a business that has run in my family since my grandparents started it.”
He said he likes the “good vibe” of the market, the people, and seeing couples enjoy this time of the year.
Customizable horseshoe stands are a symbol of good luck for the new year and a very special craft to sell. The owner is a Blacksmith who is specialized in these crafts for 15 years.
The owner of this stand creates “plain, simple things” that tell a story. He started this company 8 years ago,originally selling toys, but lately there has been more and more of a passion for “simple things,” one reason being empathy for the war in Ukraine.
This market offers many attractions and lots of traditions from locals and foreigners alike that are worth visiting.
England – Leicester Square Christmas Market in London
This Christmas market in London is a must-see attraction during Christmas time. This year it is open from November 9 to January 8 and includes shows, quality food and all manner of various other activities.
The most common food that is found in the market are sausages; they are cooked in front of you and prepared to your liking.
A not-so-common attraction found at this Christmas market is a stand specific for marshmallows. The stand next to this fireplace sells marshmallows that people can then roast and enjoy.
A discussion with the baker at one stand reveals one reason why traditional British tablets and sweets are important to continue to create and share.
I feel like since there is less and less of this culture in England, because of so many tourists, it has been forgotten over the years – stand owner
Another iconic thing to see in London during Christmas time are the light displays – on most streets you will see beautiful twinkling lights decorating many buildings.
Spain – Fira de Saint Llúcia In Barcelona
Barcelona is very popular for tourists and winter sees throngs of visitors ready to get a taste of Catalonian culture. This year, its Christmas market is held from the 25th of November to the 23rd of December. Some things to look forward to are delicious tapas, crafts and performances from different cultures and a wonderful, festive environment.
Barcelona welcomes about 8 million tourists a year; around Christmas, that number is at its peak. The stands are full of people and you can feel the Christmas spirit in the air.
This log is a long-lived tradition in Spain, especially in Barcelona. The meaning of this log is that “for Christmas, you cover a wooden log and feed it. You then hit the log with sticks while singing a song until candy comes out.” This is called the Caga Tió: a Catalan log that “poops” out candy.
I wish I worked here more, but because of Covid it has been a bit of a struggle. I have been working here for about 2 years. – stand owner
This Christmas market is filled with surprises and experiences you simply cannot miss!
Some Other Christmas Market Recommendations
Austria, Denmark, Romania, London and Spain are all just starting the festivities and building their Christmas spirit. However, there are also other markets that people recommended!
We asked visitors in the different Christmas markets what their favourite Christmas market was. Some of their responses were:
- Middle Age Traditional Market – Hamburg, Germany
- Karlsplatz Market – Vienna, Austria
- Historical Plaza Market – Prague, Czech Republic
- Winter Wonders Market – Brussels, Belgium
What is your favourite Christmas Market?