It is a known fact that Christmas in the Philippines is exciting and unforgettable. Yet celebrating the most wonderful time of the year in other parts of the world offers a marvelous experience altogether. There is certain magic with spending the holidays in a different city with its distinct culture. From witnessing a white Christmas to exploring parks with numerous musical performances, celebrating the yuletide season across the globe is always one for the books. Your trip would certainly not be complete without going to markets filled with festive sounds and the most amazing scents. We’ve listed down 12 of the top Christmas markets you have to visit to experience the holidays in all its glory.
Salzburg’s Christmas Market, Austria
Walk into a fairytale-like scene at the oldest market in Salzburg. Located right in the foot of the Hohensalzburg fortress, the market sits above the city. It gives you a breathtaking view and backdrop for the booths as you take in the enthralling scents of cotton candy and baked apples wafting through the cold breeze. A variety of cultural programs like a live choir and wind instrument orchestra completes your trip. The Advent Brass Concert is also among the highlights where you can watch the folk song and dance performances, taking you to experience the beauty of Austrian tradition.
Edinburgh’s Christmas, Scotland
Find yourself immersed in the six-week festive season of Edinburgh. Enchanting sights, magical sounds, and mouthwatering food will fill your memories in the market. Apart from exploring what the craft stalls have to offer, enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the Big Wheel or the 60-meter Star Flyer. For children, they will definitely have fun in Santa Land and the Elves’ Workshop in the Christmas Tree Maze. For ice skating enthusiasts, delight in your hobby at St. Andrew Square that has an oval ice rink. The highlight of the market is Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. Join in the famous street party and witness a spectacular fireworks show on December 31. On New Year, attend in the annual Loony Dook, Scottish terms for “dip” and “bathe.” Brave souls can dive into the freezing cold waters in Firth of Forth or you can simply cheer them on in this thrilling activity.
Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square, Czech Republic
With a five-minute walk from each other, both markets feature wooden chalets but they differ with the Czech treats. Wenceslas Square features markets that highlight steel and handmade wooden gifts while Old Town Square hosts carol concerts, creative workshops, and even a mini zoo. You can find exciting products in the two markets like hot chocolate, spiced mulled wines, craft gifts, and a selection of toys, jewelry, and apparel. The best part is waiting for the main tree to be lit. You can do so while indulging in a Czech sausage they call klobása and pair it with a Pilsner Urquell, creating a beautiful moment.
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Toronto Christmas Market, Canada
The biggest Christmas market in North America celebrates its 10th year and you have to expect days of enchantment in The Distillery District. Explore the market on foot with a Go Tours Canada Walking Tour and learn about the historic Distillery. Walk further into the market and take a photo with the majestic 50-foot Ontario-grown Christmas tree decorated with glimmering lights. You can even visit Santa’s House or experience an interactive 3D video of a Winter Wonderland scene. For coffee enthusiasts, lounge by the Nespresso Nordic Garden Boutique. Though closed on Mondays, the market’s opening hours will be filled with all your holiday shopping needs.
Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland
Experience the Christmas market in two locations: Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. You can shop from around 180 stalls filled with handmade toys, regional delicacies, and wonderful curiosities. While exploring, indulge in different culinary delights like Swiss raclette or Alpine cow milk-based cheese, grilled sausages, waffles, and glühwein or mulled wine. Open until December 23, the market at Münsterplatz also features a magnificent Christmas tree. Over at Claraplatz, enjoy a 3-course fondue dinner at Restaurant Schnabel, engaging in stirring conversations with your loved ones.
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Advent in Zagreb, Croatia
European Best Destinations voted the Advent in Zagreb as the “Best Christmas Market Destination” for two years now, and you have to see for yourself why. Good friends and big families can take delight in the numerous attractions here like Zrinjevac Park. Glittering lights and lanterns fill the park while a selection of traditional Christmas gifts is available to shop for. One of the must-try delicacies is the baked štrukli, a traditional Croatian pastry dish made of fresh cottage cheese. Other must-visit parts are Ice Park with an ice-skating rink and Ban Josip Jelačić Square where you can see the massive Christmas tree. Feast on a variety of food and drinks in these areas while listening to musical performances at night.
Roppongi Hills Christmas Market, Japan
It is easy to see why this market is well-known across Asia. From its German-style Christmas market filled with twinkling lights to its selection of authentic German dishes, you can enjoy a heartwarming holiday season in Roppongi. What makes the experience memorable is exploring the different good shops. They have Käthe Wohlfahrt, a store filled with Christmas goods like a Christmas squirrel figurine made of exquisite Swarvoski crystals. If you prefer to have something handmade, head over to The Joy Luck Club Inc. where you can have different glassworks for your collection. For lovers of spice and displays, you can find scents to your liking at Rasp Spice Decoration filled with fragrant decor of cloves, cinnamon, and star anise.
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Bank of America Winter Village, New York
This open-air market in Bryant Park features over 125 different custom-designed kiosks of local and international handicrafts. Apart from shopping, you and your loved ones can bond at the massive rink that stretches over at 17,000-square feet. For those desiring to do other outdoor programs, the market has Winter Fitness, Broomball, and Bumper Cars. When you want to take a break from all the physical activities, do so in The Lodge. A cocktail bar with a range of new and classic New York restaurants and outdoor beer garden can offer you delightful dining options. You can also unwind at Overlook, the observation deck to play boardgames or to people-watch while you nurse a mug of hot cocoa.
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market, UK
Birmingham buzzes not only with its 80 wooden stalls selling handmade toys, apparel, and jewelry. You must also look out for Chris Moose, the singing moose by the entrance of the Council House. After hearing him perform, you can head over to some of the attractions only three yards away from the moose. From the fried potato stall to Victoria Square’s bratwurst grill, you can be certain to enjoy the specialties here. That includes Brezel (a type of bread), chocolate crepes, crisp German beer, and Glühwein or wine made of spices like cinnamon, lemon slices, and aniseed. Feast on these delicacies while listening to traditional Christmas carols to truly soak up the yuletide season.
Stellenbosch Slow Market, South Africa
Open all-year-round, this local market celebrates all artisanal crafts and goods. Yet their Christmas fest is more remarkable with a wide variety of delicatessen like Gingerbread houses, 100% raw and organic chocolate, Bilton or dried, curated meat, Christmas puddings, and toffee apples. All these food are locally-produced and harvested by the makers themselves. You can find all sorts of beautiful products for gifts, tokens, and collectibles in this wonderful market.
Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
Upon entering the market, you must look for and take a photo of the splendid Christmas tree. Apart from the glimmering decor, it is the first-ever Christmas tree to be displayed in Europe since 1441. Indulge in the traditional Estonian cuisine like sour cabbage, black pudding, and gingerbread. You can also witness how the Town Hall Square transforms into a Village of Light where you can taste warm baked pies and drinks and shop for wonderful handicrafts like intricately knit socks, beautiful furs, and wooden decorations. At the heart of the cultural programs are games and live performances of dance troupes, highlighting the Christmas cheer.
While there are different Christmas markets in Berlin, your must-visit is Gendarmenmarkt. Take a stroll around stalls selling origami art, glassblowers, and winter delicacies like delicious sausages and warm cups of mulled wine. For entertainment, watch the thrilling performances of jugglers and fire-eaters or sing along to choirs crooning jazz or Gospel songs. After staying to watch musical entertainment, you can explore the various craft tents. Each sells magnificent paintings, artworks, and splendid wood carvings. You will certainly find something unique from these shops if you want to make your gifts more special and personal.