Introduction to the Christmas markets of Europe
The European Christmas market, as a modern phenomenon, is a long and historical tradition, with its origin being found during The Middle Ages in The Holy Roman Empire (more specifically in what is today’s Austria and Germany). During the 13th and 14th centuries, the Holy Roman Emperor would give his permission to various cities, such as Vienna and Munich, to hold special markets at the start of winter with the aim of stocking up on products for the rest of the season. Bit by bit, these markets became more sophisticated, more complicated, and it was the market of Dresden in 1434 that would become the first market that we could consider as a mirror of the Christmas markets that we see dotted around Europe today.
Nowadays, these markets are usually held from the end of November until the end of December and are the perfect places to wrap up warm on a cold winter’s day, whilst losing oneself amongst the various stalls that sell all sorts. Whether that be eating something sweet or drinking a nice mulled wine or warm cider. Perhaps you’re there to do a bit of shopping where there are no shortage of artisanal products and Christmas themed presents. You might be there for the fun and games, so why not have a go on the attractions, or perhaps you’re there for the biggest attraction of them all; the man in the big red suit himself, Santa.
Selection of the best Christmas Markets throughout Europe.
Each and every year, there are thousands of these Christmas markets being held the world over. However, if you want to know which are the best in Europe, here is a list of those that you simply cannot afford to miss, with particular attention being paid to those in the UK.
Some of the best Christmas markets in the UK are found in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and York. However, it must be said that amongst these, without a shadow of a doubt, the Edinburgh Christmas market is the most charming and one of the most extensive and visited that there is. For this reason, the Edinburgh Christmas market is widely recognized as one of the best and usually takes top spot in the annual lists of best Christmas markets, not just in the UK, but throughout Europe as well. As if that wasn’t enough, the Scottish capital also comes to life with Christmas spirit and endless entertainment with many magical events, one such being the special illumination spectacular of Edinburgh Castle.
Throughout the continent, there is still plenty to see such as the amazing markets of Budapest, Cologne, Salzburg, Essen and, of course, those of Viena and Munich which as previously mentioned, are bound in history and tradition. It would be remiss of us to not mention those of the capitals of the Baltic countries, such as that of Riga, which even though generally smaller in size, their iconic snowy urban landscapes more than make up for it.
Christmas Markets 2023: New Attractions and Events
The European Christmas markets of 2023 are full of new and exciting attractions that you don’t want to miss, such as the Christmas carol concert in Salzburg, the Christmas tree with more than 2000 LED lights that will light up Vienna, or the impressive Christmas parade in Manchester that will take place on the 3rd of December.
The Scottish Christmas markets aren’t exempt from the list of places with captivating and original activities, such as the Santa race and the dog show “Santa Paws” that will take place on the 9th of December in Edinburgh. These aren’t the only attractions in Edinburgh where you can also take in a spectacular view of the city from the ferris-wheel, ride the daring Starflyer with its flying seats, have a go on the ice-rink, try some traditional food and drink and of course, the previously mentioned light show spectacular of Edinburgh Castle.This winter, to top off your visit to Edinburgh and this enchanting Christmas market, why not take part in a wonderfully special Christmas walking tour of Edinburgh, a city which dresses itself up to the nines during this magical time of year.
Guide to taking advantage of the Christmas Market on your trip to Edinburgh.
Visiting Christmas markets throughout Europe in December is an ideal activity for a short city break, whether it be just a couple of days, or a cheeky 5-day weekend. In such a short space of time, it’s not unreasonable to think you could discover a number of exciting different cites such as Viena, Budapest, York, Glasgow or Edinburgh. If the latter is what tickles your fancy, and a visit to the Christmas markets of the UK is on the cards, a enticing proposal could be as follows: Why not spend three days in Edinburgh getting to know everything that the city has to offer through its walking tours, and then just a short train ride away you have Glasgow, where you could spend a fourth, and perhaps fifth, day becoming acquainted with its own market, its monuments and its elegant architecture.
Economical Options: Low-cost European Christmas Markets
For the traveller in search of a more budget friendly Christmas market, a great option could be the markets of the Baltic countries, amongst which stand out the Christmas market of Riga, or those of Eastern Europe such as Budapest or Gdansk. With this being said, any other European destination could become a relatively economic option if the right choices are made. If your goal is to visit the Christmas markets in places like Germany, Austria, England or Scotland, don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity, plan well and opt for cheaper accommodation options, such as hostels. Or else stay for fewer days but take full advantage of them by organising yourself well.
Conclusion: Preparations for an Unforgettable Christmas Experience.
The best piece of advice that I could give you for an unforgettable Christmas experience, is to let yourself be guided by the destination that excites you the most and then adapt your trip and your budget to that destination. Christmas is there to make dreams come true!
In terms of everything else, try to book your flights and accommodation as soon as possible, or if you’re a little late to the party, have a good look at the last-minute deals on offer from the airlines and have at it. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you book early whatever special Christmas events you want to go to, and take advantage of the city’s walking tours to really get to know the city you’re visiting. After all, you chose that city for a reason!
Last, but certainly not least, enjoy to the fullest your trip to the best European Christmas markets of 2023!