From Bath to Berlin: Staying safe at Europe’s magical markets
When winter comes along there’s nothing better than getting wrapped up and visiting a Christmas market. Mulled wine in hand, you can stroll among the quaint stalls and enjoy delicious delicacies as carols drift through the air. However, the cosy atmosphere can be easily lost thanks to ruthless pickpockets that operate in busy areas such as these.
There’s no need to let them ruin the fun, though. We’ve picked some of our favourite European Christmas markets as well as some sneaky tricks thieves use so you can stay vigilant and keep your valuables safe.
The Top 5
1.Strasbourg - Our favourite Christmas market in Europe
Strasbourg Christmas Market in France was voted one of the best in Europe by travellers last year1, and it’s easy to see why. Rich decorations and twinkling lights guide you through medieval streets where over 300 stalls sell traditional decorations and delicacies – be sure to try some of the famous gingerbread. In the spirit of Christmas, check out the Village of Sharing, where you can donate to hundreds of charities and help people in need.
Great for: All-round tradition and quality gifts
25 November – 31 December, www.noel.strasbourg.eu/en/accueil
2.Innsbruck - Picture-perfect Christmas markets in the Alps
Where better to enjoy a Christmas getaway than in the heart of the Austrian Alps? Snow-covered mountains provide a perfect backdrop to idyllic Alpine markets. From the family market with a petting zoo and Swarovski crystal tree, to the Old Town market with handcrafted gifts and historic surroundings, there is something to suit all tastes. For the most stunning views, visit the panoramic Hungerburg market and look out over the mountains as you sip on mulled wine. For something a little different, try their delicacy Kiachl, which is a hot doughnut covered in sauerkraut.
Great for: Incredible Alpine views and something for everyone
15 November – 6 January, www.innsbruck.info/en/innsbruck-city/events/advent-and-christmas/christmas-market.html
3.Birmingham - The UK’s largest authentic German Market
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market has quickly become one of the UK’s favourites. It was the only UK market to make the Top 10 list of Best Christmas Markets in Europe and, taking a lead from its twin city, Frankfurt, it's also the largest authentic German market outside Germany and Austria. Stroll around 180 stalls selling gifts, jewellery, and of course Bratwurst and Glühwein. Kids will love Chris the singing Moose who sits outside the Council House and guarantees a festive, fun atmosphere.
Great for: Authentic Bratwurst and Glühwein in the UK
17 November – 29 December, www.visitbirmingham.com/christmas/birminghams-frankfurt-christmas-market-craft-fair/
4.Bath - A stylish market full of British charm
Bath’s elegant Georgian streets never look more magical than when full with festive shoppers and the twinkling lights of its Christmas market. The stunning Bath Abbey and Roman Baths add to the charm and history of the market, as stalls sell locally-made gifts like lavender from Somerset and soap handmade in Gloucestershire. After a day’s shopping and skating, warm up with a dip in the famous Thermae Bath Spa, while the festive atmosphere and carols drift up from the streets below.
Great for: Unique gifts handmade in the UK
27 November – 11 December, www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk
5.Edinburgh - A season of fun and festivities in Scotland’s vibrant capital
Edinburgh's festive markets make up just one part of its spectacular season of festivities. The Scottish market showcases local craft, food, and drink while the children’s market set in Santa Land is full of crafts and fun, like a Christmas tree maze. There’s plenty of entertainment from live shows and Christmas parties, and this year, one building a day will be opened up to the public as part of the 24 Doors of Advent.
Great for: Live entertainment for the whole family
19 November – 7 January, www.edinburghschristmas.com
Now you’re prepared, check out these other must-sees
Lincoln – A 4-day spectacular in the city’s cultural quarter
Stroll along cobbled streets and shop 250 stalls and independent boutiques, overlooked by the magnificent castle and cathedral. Visit on the opening day for the traditional carol service in the cathedral.
1 – 4 December, www.lincoln-christmasmarket.co.uk
Stockholm – The quintessential Scandinavian Christmas
The traditional Skansen Christmas Market offers live music, hand-made goods, and local delicacies. Visit on Lucia Day, 10th December, when candlelight processions celebrate the queen of the light.
Weekends from 26 November – 18 December, www.visitstockholm.com/en/See--do/Guides/Christmas-in-Stockholm/
Belfast – Irish charm meets Christmas cheer
In Belfast, kids can post a letter to Santa at the North Pole and get a personal response in the post. Visit on the opening day to see the switch on of the Christmas lights.
19 November – 22 December, www.visit-belfast.com/whats_on/event/belfast-christmas-market
Bolzano - Italy’s largest Christmas market
In Bolzano, the Piazza Walter hosts decorated booths selling traditional treats. The Italian legend of La Befana says a witch delivers gifts on the eve of the Epiphany – 5th January – so many markets last into the New Year.
24 November – 6 January, www.bolzano-bozen.it/en/bolzano-christmas-market.htm
Berlin – The authentic German market experience
German Christmas markets are world-famous, and with around 60 markets spread across the capital, there is something for everyone. Some run until January - perfect for tying in with a New Year break.
Various dates, www.visitberlin.de/en/keyword/christmas-markets
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