The magic of European Christmas Markets
Magic is in the air. The streets of the most beautiful cities in Europe are transformed into a page straight from a fairy tale. Town squares become the setting of local traditions and festivities, each highlighting their own unique culture perfectly with their Christmas Markets.
It is hard to know which way to turn as each of the markets lights come on, taking your breath away with the most awe inspiring lights. City centres are decorated with dazzling fairy lights creating an enchanting festive atmosphere.
Little wooden stalls and charming little booths are erected for craftsmen to display unique Christmas gifts for sale. They are piled high with authentic wooden toys, handcrafted puppets, delicate hand blown glass ornaments, even baking tins are for sale. For young or old, this is one of the most beautiful times of the year, an opportunity for walks with your family, friends or lovers.
No Christmas market is complete without food. There is always some kind of tasty sausage involved, whether it be a full sized bratwurst, Polish Klobasa. Mettwurst, Bratwurst or Currywurst. Either way, you’ve made the right choice, they are delicious, super leckere. The aroma of them cooking on large circular grills suspended over coals by chains fills the air at the Christmas markets.
Each Christmas market is a gastronomic delight and a shopper’s paradise. There are so many different types of festive foods cooking your nostrils will be quivering with the scent of freshly roasted chestnuts, gluhwein, gingerbread or spicy grilled sausages.
Pretty little towns or big city centres, they all dress up and plunge into the magical atmosphere of Christmas and have something unique to offer. You can choose from local festive foods, artisan goods, beautiful snowflakes handpainted onto shiny glass baubles or just enjoy the view of their most spectacular Christmas tree.
It is at the Christmas Markets I am reminded why this season can feel so special, mulled wine, Christmas songs, twinkling lights, nativity scenes and snow.
The markets also create a hint of nostalgia with memories of a time when children played with wooden toys and old fashioned merry-go-rounds are still a top attraction delighting both children and adults alike. Christmas pyramids (Weihnachtspyramide) are Christmas decorations that have their roots in the folklore and customs Germany, but which have become popular internationally. German pyramids symbolize the light and joy of the season.
People travel from all over the world to shop for beautifully hand crafted decorations, to wait in the long line of the most popular food stall for traditional delicacies and to be surrounded by people totally absorbed in the most magical atmosphere.
Walking around the markets is cold, let your nose lead you around to satisfy your appetite until your nose is so cold it’s numb. The best remedy is to get some warm Gluhwein into your belly. Wrap your hands around the cute little cups and let them warm as you slowly sip on the spicy, warm red wine. This season is so special, it will take your breath away and you will feel giddy like a child, or it could just be the Gluhwein.
Each year thousands of people visit the Christmas markets of Europe and replicate that childlike feeling of exploring towns decorated so pretty they positively sparkle. Walking around the markets guided by the aroma of freshly baked breads, apple pancakes, mettwurst sausage, yule logs and honey cakes and surrounded by people stopping to take photos is simply breathtaking.
The Christmas markets are a great meeting place for many locals where they meet after work to buy Christmas gifts and enjoy a cup (or small boot) of Gluhwein. Tourists will also be infected with Christmas cheer, snow or no snow, doing Christmas shopping for loved ones back home and eating gingerbread or munching grilled sausages.
Whether in a big city market or something low key and quaint, you will be truly immersed in the Christmas spirit. The sound of Christmas carols playing while the crowds skate under the stars on the ice rinks under huge Christmas trees or next to fairytale castles is a delight.
The smell of roasted chestnuts and gingerbread teasing your senses, a gorgeous carousel, you can feel the Christmas spirit and traditional charm during advent.
Regardless of the claim to fame being the tallest tree, oldest market, tallest Nutcracker or tallest Christmas pyramid, the main squares are full of bucket loads of charm and a fabulous atmosphere. They are simply spectacular and like a scene straight from a Christmas card with images of snowflakes and twinkling lights. You can step into the joyous sounds of Christmas with carol singers wrapped up in woollen hats and scarves on street corners or catch an evening Christmas concert in one of the city’s churches.
Whilst snow isn’t guaranteed, a visit to any European Christmas Market will tick all the festive boxes and you will be infected with the magic of Christmas and good dose of Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas and I do hope you get to experience the joy and enchantment of the European Christmas Markets.
Have you been to any of the European Christmas Markets? Which city square was your favourite and what’s your favourite European Christmas treat you tasted?
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