14 magical Christmas markets in Europe that are back on this year
We’re all long overdue for a little Christmas magic (and a lot of sparkle) this year. Thankfully, the holiday cheer we've been missing is back: Our favourite Christmas markets in Europe are opening up for the season. There are so many ways to get in on the fun—whether it's filling up on bratwurst and mulled wine at one of the more traditional markets in Germany, or hopping on a roller coaster at London’s Winter Wonderland.
We've got the scoop on 14 of the best Christmas markets in Europe...so go on, find your fave and let the festivities begin.
Disclaimer: We try our best to be accurate but some venues may have temporary restrictions or closures due to Covid-19. Enquire directly or check the venue's website and social media before visiting.
Best Christmas markets in Germany
When: November 22-December 23, 2021
Set against the Gothic Cologne Cathedral, the Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom (literally: Christmas market at the cathedral) should be one of your first stops on your Cologne Christmas market pilgrimage. Start your day with a tour of the cathedral city and catch the festive lights in the evening while sipping a glass of glühwein and exploring the stalls in this cosy market.
When: November 18-December 30, 2021
There are seven main markets in the Düsseldorf city centre, each offering something different. Marvel at the golden angel stalls at the Engelchen-Markt, the charming red huts at Handwerker-Markt or the enchanting fairytales and LED lights at the Märchen-Markt. Don’t miss a single one with this tour of Düsseldorf’s Christmas Markets.
Best Christmas markets in France
When: November 26-December 26, 2021
The festive spirit and decorations at Strasbourg are close to unmatched, rightfully earning its moniker as the “Capital of Christmas.” The Christkindelsmärik at Place Broglie is a historic staple of the area, loved for its spread of delectable food and traditional atmosphere. Don’t miss out on the chance to explore other unique Strasbourg Christmas markets on a walking tour, from the majestic market at Place de la Cathédrale to the offbeat and artisanal markets selling handcrafted Alsatian wine glasses and local delicacies.
“Strasbourg is the capital of Christmas for a reason. The backdrop of this particular market can't be beaten. It's at the cathedral, and full of craft and food vendors and a carousel. There are lights everywhere. It's truly magical.”—Carmen C
When: November 26-December 29, 2021
If you’re visiting Strasbourg, hop on over to the Colmar Christmas Markets just a short distance away. Colmar goes all out with its festive decorations, much like the rest of Alsace, which springs to life with bright, twinkling lights this time of year. While small, all of its six markets are surrounded by quaint timber houses, lovely decorations along the canal, and whimsical white Christmas trees scattered across the town. Find the best photo ops for your Christmas greeting cards by joining this Christmas markets tour of Colmar.
“The Christmas markets were lovely. All the little towns themselves had to be seen to be believed—they were so fairytale-like.”—shar0nseym0ur
When: November 26-December 29, 2021
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims is the backdrop of the Reims Christmas markets, with over 140 stalls set in the square brimming with artisanal handicrafts and gourmet specialities. Explore not just the area’s six different Christmas markets but also the 11 Champagne houses with this Christmas market tour of the Champagne city. The best part? You can enjoy a glass of bubbly on the big Ferris wheel while enjoying the view of the illuminated square from above with the melodic voices of Christmas carollers in the background.
Best Christmas markets in the U.K.
When: November 19, 2021-January 3, 2022
If there’s only one Christmas market you can visit this year, make it the Christmas extravaganza that is Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. End the year on a high with tons of rides, a mega Ferris wheel, an outdoor ice rink, a Magical Ice Kingdom with 500 tonnes of ice sculptures, Santa Land, a Christmas circus… and did we mention over a hundred Christmas market stalls? Pre-booking of tickets is required so hop over to the Winter Wonderland website to snag your slot. But if you can’t get one, there’s always this silent disco Christmas party tour of London.
“I’ve been here for the past 5 years and it never disappoints. The evocative smells of sausages, mulled wine and doughnuts just take you to a good place.”—Roxy4521
When: November 20, 2021-January 4, 2022
Edinburgh’s Christmas Market was recently crowned as the best in the UK and it’s not hard to see why. Look forward to a diverse range of stalls selling festive food and trinkets, a Ferris wheel and double carousel, and the much-anticipated return of “Lidl On Ice”—the city’s outdoor ice rink. And don’t forget to make time to explore the rest of Edinburgh on this hop-on hop-off bus tour.
“What a beautiful sight it was! Was there just before sunset and felt like a child to watch the lights come alive as darkness approached. The wide variety of food tasted and looked divine.”—Ilze P
When: November 12-December 22, 2021 (The Winter Gardens will run until January 3, 2022)
Another spot that contends for the top Christmas market in the UK is the Manchester Christmas Markets, this year centering in Piccadilly Gardens. The Winter Gardens will feature Yuletide bars with local ales and foodie favourites like Dutch frites, with live music and DJs spinning festive tunes. You can also sign up for a walking tour that will take you to the traditional Christmas markets that Manchester is known for, spanning across six city centre squares.
“We went during our anniversary weekend and absolutely loved walking around the city, seeing all the market stalls and enjoying the Christmas vibe!”—CGreensmith
Best Christmas markets in Switzerland
When: November 25-December 23, 2021
With neighbours like Germany and France, expect no less than absolute magic at Basel’s Christmas markets. The Christmas market at Münsterplatz is one of the crowd favourites, with a huge Christmas tree set in front of the iconic red sandstone Münster. There’s also a Fairytale Forest and kid-friendly activities like candle-making, baking and metal forging to get the little ones in on the festive cheer. Learn about the Advent customs of the “city on the Rhine” while enjoying the holiday magic on this Christmas tour of Basel.
“Plenty to see, excellent facilities and entertainment for the children, and glühwein and kartoffel for the adults. Throw in some raclette or sausage and you will roll down the hill to the lower Christmas market. Definitely should be on your ‘to see’ list whilst in Europe for Christmas.”—Simon C
10. Christkindlimarkt and Zurich Christmas Village, Zurich
- Zurich Main Station: November 25-December 24, 2021
- Zurich Old Town: November 25-December 23, 2021
When it comes to Christmas trees, the opulence of Christkindlimarkt’s tree at Zurich Main Station can’t be beat—a 32-feet-tall Christmas tree embellished with thousands of sparkling Swarovski crystals. The Christmas market inside the train station is pretty neat, too. The Wienachtsdorf, or Zurich Christmas Village, is another great market with a skating rink, carousel and Bavarian curling. Explore both of these markets and more with the Magic Christmas Tour in Zurich.
“I've passed through here lots of times over the past couple of years and at Christmas it never fails to amaze. It’s possibly the most festive station in the world at Christmas, with its own market and a beautiful Christmas tree adorned with Swarovski crystal decorations.”—Alex V
Best Christmas markets in Belgium
When: November 26, 2021-January 9, 2022
The Bruges Winter Glow festival is back this year, promising dazzling winter illuminations across the city, an outdoor skating rink and Vorst Winter Bar, along with the usual Christmas markets that you can explore with Bruges Christmas market tour. Dig into Belgian fare of waffles, beer and chocolate, against the backdrop of the Belfry of Bruges bell tower.
“There's a wonderful atmosphere at midnight on Christmas Eve, when you can warm up with a glass of glühwein as the carillon plays carols. It's also the place where you can take a horse-drawn carriage around the city—not cheap, but a worthwhile extravagance nonetheless, particularly at dusk.”—Daunrussell
When: November 26, 2021-January 2, 2022
The magic continues at Winter Wonders in Brussels, bringing with it over 200 stalls at its Christmas market, a massive Christmas tree, Ferris wheels and—the star of the show—a sensational light display at the iconic Grand-Place. You’ll definitely need the help of a local guide on this Brussels Christmas tour to catch all of the festive action.
“I loved the Christmas atmosphere and the friendly people for the whole two days that we were there. The city really does go big at Christmas. Also expect to put on a few kilos between the waffles, the chocolate, the cheeses, Belgium fries and mussels.”—310briang
Other Christmas markets in Europe to check out
When: Open every day of the year. Visit their website for more information.
The sleigh bells are ringing 365 days a year in Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus—it even comes with a Santa Claus Post Office operated by the Finnish postal service. Pay a visit to Father Christmas himself, meet Rudolph and his reindeer friends and find out what Mr Claus gets up to while he’s not busy delivering gifts—we heard he loves aurora hunting, snowmobiling, and the occasional husky ride. Zoom through the Arctic Circle on this 6-hour tour and make it back to the village to spend the night in one of its luxurious winter resorts.
“As a little girl, I dreamt of visiting Santa in Lapland... now as a grown woman I was shaking like a 5-year-old when I was sitting next to him. Beautiful at Christmas—the whole vibe is just extra special during those magical holidays.”—Paulina K
When: November 20-December 19, 2021
The largest Christmas market in Florence can be found at the piazza of the Basilica di Santa Croce against its glorious marble facade. Expect all the good stuff that comes with a traditional Christmas Market, like German-style open-air wooden stalls selling bratwurst, chimney cake and mulled wine, with a mix of Italian cheeses, jams, chocolates and spices. But before you have your fill of wine and cheese, whizz your way around Florence on an electric cart tour to explore more of the city’s iconic landmarks.
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