Who says you can't spend Christmas on the beach?
Fancy Christmas shopping with a difference? This year, why not swap your local high street for a magical trip to one of Europe’s best Christmas markets? It’s the perfect way to pick up unique local crafts, experience new cultures and soak up all the Christmassy vibes along the way in the stunning setting of Europe’s most sensational cities. We predict warm and fuzzy feelings!
A tradition that stretches back over a thousand years is to grab a glühwein and wander around Prague’s magical city centre from Staromestské námestí (Old Town Square) to Wenceslas Square. Instagram-worthy red-canopied wooden huts are home to plenty of traditional Czech glass baubles and ornaments. But it’s not just gifts that are on offer here: in the week leading up to the Vánoce (Christmas) holiday, you’ll find huge tubs of water filled with carp, the traditional Czech Christmas dish. Make like a local and enjoy it with a grog and honey liquor – a traditional Czech beverage.
With a heritage dating back to the seventeenth century, Barcelona’s Christmas market, Feria de Santa Lucia, is home to some 300 stalls, where you can pick up handmade decorations and gifts for family and friends. But that’s not all: musical parades, giant nativity displays and the more unusual caganer (crapper) figures are all individual twists that make Barcelona’s Christmas market a must-visit. It’s set against a backdrop of the stunning Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia in Barcelona’s Gothic quarter. We’ll be finding a cosy spot to enjoy chocolate and churros to relax after a hard day’s shopping.
Swap panic shopping on Oxford Street for a trip to the South Bank, where you can pick up stocking fillers and gifts while enjoying unforgettable views of the River Thames lit up for Christmas. It’s a truly buzzing spot to head to with the girls for after-work drinks or a weekend visit, as there are plenty of delicious festive treats and tipples to try. Covent Garden’s famous market also sees a festive transformation for Christmas, while those looking for thrills as well as treats can find them at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
Covering almost 2 km from the Grand Place to Place Sainte-Catherine, there are plenty of arts and crafts to feast your eyes on in Brussels. And feast you will, with festive food and drink on hand to keep you going along the way, including delicious traditional Belgium waffles and chocolates that you just can’t go home without trying. When you finally reach the heart of the festivities in Place Sainte-Catherine, you’ll find not only more market stalls but also an ice-skating rink and toboggan slope, as well as a huge Ferris wheel.
If you’re looking for tradition, you’ll find it at Striezelmarkt, the oldest Christmas market in Germany, which is aptly named after the city’s famous stollen – the sweet Christmas cake stuffed with dried fruit and marzipan, without which no German Christmas would be complete. The highlight of the Christmas market is undoubtedly the Stollen Festival, where a giant, 3,000 kg stollen is ceremonially sliced and shared out. And that’s not forgetting the whole host of traditional gifts, arts and crafts on offer from local and regional craftsmen, and the world’s tallest Nutcracker and Christmas pyramid.
Tags: Christmas markets Christmas Season Christmas Outing Christmas Day Trip Europe Christmas Travel