Christmas markets around the world
Utter the phrase “Christmas shopping” to someone and more often than not you’ll be met with a groan. It doesn’t seem to matter how much people love Christmas, or how much they want to find unique and beautiful gifts for their loved ones, it seems that the actual purchasing of those presents gives everyone a headache. But, love it or loathe it, Christmas shopping is something that we all end up doing. And since that’s the case – and since today’s choices appear to be limited to either an overcrowded high street chain store, or the soullessness of buying everything online – it’s no wonder that Christmas shopping becomes something of a chore rather than a treat.
It doesn’t have to be like that though and in fact can be something special. Do you remember what it was like to be a child at Christmas, full of magic and excitement? If you want to find that feeling again and experience Christmas shopping the way it’s meant to be (which includes finding some of the best gifts that can’t be found anywhere else), then go to a Christmas market. They can be found both near and far, so pick the one that takes your fancy and embrace the entire experience.
Christmas Markets in Kent
Rochester Castle Gardens is the scene for this most traditional and heartwarming of Christmas markets. As you wander around the stalls selling all manner of gorgeous and unique gifts – including handmade items and tasty treats – nibbling roasted chestnuts as you go, you’ll be able to take in the view of the 12th-century Norman keep too. The market is set out like a Bavarian village to really keep the idea of Christmas alive and it incorporates the Dickensian Christmas Festival (2nd-3rd December) where you can step back in time and meet some of the great author’s most famous creations.
With a huge array of gorgeous gift ideas, as well as some locally produced food and drink items, the Leeds Castle Christmas Market is always a joy to attend. But what makes it even more fun are the traditional fairground rides that everyone can enjoy. Come and meet the reindeer, find out whether you are on Father Christmas’s ‘nice’ list, and sample some festive delights as you listen to live music under the majestic watch of Leeds Castle itself.
The Christmas market at Whitefriars in Canterbury consists of over 35 different stalls housed in British-made traditional wooden sheds. Unique gifts and dazzling decorations sit side by side with Christmassy treats such as gingerbread and mulled wine. Sample some on the day and take the rest home for your Christmas guests; it will add a definite delicious sparkle to the big day itself. There are also many events to enjoy as you shop including a lovely and utterly memorable grotto where Father Christmas will be happy to meet the children and give them a pre-Christmas gift.
Tenterden is one of the prettiest Kentish villages, so it should come as no surprise that the Christmas market it holds every year is just as lovely. Local artisan food producers and crafters will be there selling their wares and offering samples so you can choose the perfect products for your Christmas table. And, if you’re feeling more than a little peckish, there will be street food stalls too, so you can up your energy levels ready for the next round of Christmas shopping. With live music from choirs as well as street entertainers this is as festive as it gets.
Dress up warmly and enter the gardens of Belmont House this month where you will find a marquee full of Christmas gift ideas. Take your time to wander around the displays picking out the perfect presents for your loved ones. Indulge in a cup of creamy hot chocolate and perhaps a slice of cake or two as you search out unique items that everyone will love, all the while surrounded by a warming festive atmosphere.
Broadditch Farm Shop
Meet ‘Farmer Christmas’, pick out your perfect Christmas tree, and enjoy the suitably festive feeling in Broadditch Farm Shop’s Christmas Barn. It will be decorated to look like a winter wonderland, complete with snow and elves, and you will be able to pick up some delightful decorations, as many Christmas lights as your house can hold, and some unusual gifts that are guaranteed to raise a smile including a handmade Broadditch Christmas hamper. The Christmas market will be open on 18th and 19th November to add even more Christmas cheer to this traditional and much-loved event.
Christmas Markets in the UK
Edinburgh Christmas market is really three markets rolled into one and there’s enough going on for every single family member (whether they are into Christmas or not) to be entertained. Ice skating, an impressive ‘Santa Land’ grotto, Scottish wares, street food, face painting, Christmas crafts, pop-up bars and cafes, and of course the market itself where you can buy locally produced gifts as well as exotic produce from around the world.
Bath is a rather magical place anyway, but add Christmas to the mix and you’ll find yourself in a very pretty and festively themed wonderland of interesting and beautiful things. It’s a Christmas shopper’s paradise with everything you could need (or want) lining the streets. There are over 200 wooden chalet-style stalls involved in making this market one of the loveliest and liveliest in the country, so even the most-hard-to-buy-for people will be ticked off your list here. Go for the day and all your shopping can be done at once in very special surroundings.
Journey to Leeds for the annual Christmas market and soak up the Yuletide atmosphere. The scents and sights of Christmas are all around, so your only problem will be choosing what to buy your loved ones. There is a lot to choose from – this is a traditional German kindlemarkt, so you know it’ll be the very essence of Christmas captured in one place.
London’s Southbank Wintertime Market plays host to all sorts of things to buy as well as loads of entertainment, most of which is free. So, after you have meandered along the Southbank, gazing at the stalls, eating your festive treats and sipping warming drinks, you can finish the day off by enjoying some fun family entertainment.
For those who want to experience the most traditional of Christmases, Winchester is your destination. Over 350,000 visitors come to this particular market each year with the beautiful Winchester Cathedral at its heart. There are stalls within the cathedral and in the grounds around, and each of the stallholders (over 100 of them) are chosen individually by the cathedral’s own Christmas market team. This ensures that only the very best products and services are to be found here. As well as the amazing setting and great stalls, there is a much-loved ice rink too. Regularly called one of the best rinks in the entire country, it shouldn’t be missed when you’re in the area.
Christmas Markets In Europe
One of Europe’s longest running markets, Strasbourg has been drawing the crowds in since 1570. For a truly authentic and breathtaking festive treat, you’ll love strolling around the wooden chalets enjoying a warming hot drink and nibbling at street food, all within the shadow of the incredible cathedral. You’ll be in good company here too, with over two million other visitors thronging the streets for the duration of the market. And with over 300 different stalls to browse, you can take your time knowing that you will find something for even the hardest person to buy for.
In Vienna, you get a number of markets for the price of one, as the ‘main market’ is actually a few smaller ones linked together to create one impressive festive marketplace. The stalls contains arts and crafts – Viennese beeswax candles are a fixture here, food and drink such as vanillekipferl, which are special Christmas biscuits, and clothing amongst many other things. To make it even more magical, the market in front of the City Hall has one floor dedicated to the children – toys and games galore!
Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Stuttgart’s Old Palace, this is the oldest – and one of the largest – Christmas markets in Europe. There are over 300 different decorated stalls, so you are sure to find the ideal gift for anyone and everyone as you walk around this gorgeous place. It’s as festive as it gets with refillable glasses of gluhwein – a warming variation on mulled wine using cider instead – that you can, once bought, take to any gluhwein stall and get a top up, and of course one of the most famous ice skating rinks in the world. Even if you don’t like to skate yourself, just watching the ones who do twirl and twizzle in the air will give you a Christmassy feeling through and through.
Make sure you pack your walking shoes when visiting the Brussels Christmas market! This is a two-kilometre stretch of stalls, rides, and games right in the middle of the city centre. Along with a giant wheel, a superb ice rink, merry-go-rounds, and dozens of fantastic stalls selling one-of-a-kind gifts and local food and drink, you will be treated to a magical illumination display in the air above. Take a moment to enjoy and be enthralled in the crisp wintery air.
Christmas Markets Around The World
The Christmas market in Chicago is run by the German American Services, so there is a lot of tradition added to proceedings – after all, Germany is where the traditon of Christmas markets began. This market is one of the largest to be found outside Europe and it is now a staple in Chicago’s winter calendar having started back in 1996. Taking place in a variety of gorgeous wooden chalet huts that are perfect for finding superb gifts, the market goes on until Christmas Eve when Christkind makes an appearance. The German theme extends to the food and drink too, so you can pick up bratwurst, stollen, and gluhwein amongst many other delicious treats.
New York in the run up to Christmas is certainly something special, and if you’re there you should definitely visit the Union Square Holiday Market. Artisanal woodwork, unique knitted clothing, and plenty of delicious homemade food is on offer – you can even blow your own glass Christmas tree ornament! There are around 150 different stalls and approximately one million people attend this market each year.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco is a fun-filled event that entices more and more people every year. Every day is Christmas Eve here and you can walk along winding streets reminiscent of Victorian London. As you enjoy your Christmas shopping in these unique surroundings, you’ll see quaint shops, art galleries, apothecaries, and of course characters from the much-loved books of Charles Dickens. Say hello to Tiny Tim, keep your wallet safe from the Artful Dodger, and try to make Ebeneezer Scrooge smile. If you can.
Hong Kong may not be the first place you think of when Christmas time rolls around, but perhaps it should be. Hong Kong’s Winterfest takes places in Victoria Harbour, offering stunning views of the cityscape and beyond. The skyscrapers are done up for the occasion, festooned with twinkling lights, and there is a huge Christmas tree in the centre of the market. This festival and market is an intriguing mix of Eastern and Western traditions, so it is both festive and unusual – a great combination. The atmosphere is absolutely enchanting, and, if you’ve never enjoyed Christmas carols and window shopping while eating a bowl of delicious congee (rice cooked in chicken broth) then this is your chance.