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It's that time of year again!! Christmastime and the holidays seem to sneak up every year and we know that amidst busy schedules and shopping sprees, some of us would love nothing more than to soak up a new city with our loved ones, experiencing the charm of a beloved destination. What could be better than combining the beauty and wonder of Christmastime and traveling with loved ones!? We want to share with you five different European Christmas Markets and a beautiful way to see multiple destinations in one trip!
First mentioned in the year 1628, the Nuremberg Christmas Market is considered one of the oldest markets to visit. The market takes place in the main city square with over 180 stalls filled with beautiful toys, trinkets and traditional Christmastime decor. What makes this market even more beautiful is that it is called the "little town of wood and cloth" as nothing is made cheaply or of plastic here! If you would like to experience the fullness of the opening of the Nuremberg Christmas Market, we suggest visiting the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent as a local girl always performs the Christkind, a beautiful prologue that begins the festivity at this charming and historical market.
Opening the Thursday before the first Sunday of Advent, this Christmas Market offers over 100 stalls of gifts and daily activities until January 1! Also known as one of the world's oldest Christmas Markets, this market was originally called the “Nikolaimarkt” -- a celebration of St. Nicholas Day and offered stalls full of shopping for the two weeks preceding St. Nicholas Day (Dec 6) and continued for two weeks after. In the centuries that followed, it quickly became the spot for not just Christmas Shopping, but also a host of other activities for children and adults alike! Every day Christmas Stories are read to children, Christmas tours are offered and people can be mesmerized by their Krampus parades! If you're visiting near the New Year, this Christmas Market also hosts a delightful New Years Eve celebration full of music, fireworks and dancing! We know you and your loved ones will find something to love at this festive market!
Budapest has not one, not two, but three delightful Christmas markets for whatever you and your loved ones are looking for. Looking for the historical site? Check out Völrösmarty Square where you will find over 100 stalls dedicated to crafts and Hungarian food specialities. If you're looking for a more unique spin on a Christmas market, complete with a skating rink, be sure to visit the Advent Feast at St. Stephen's Basilica. This market was recently voted as the best European Christmas Market in 2019 with its blend of tradition and technology as they showcase colorful short movies on the face of the Basilica. Lastly, if you're searching for a smaller, less touristy Christmas Market be sure to go to Fo Square for their Obuda Advent Fair. This one will be cozier and have more local traffic with an ice skating rink and stalls for shopping.
In any given year, there are at least 15-20 Christmas Markets, or Marché de Nöel, in Paris alone, with other pop ups that happen closer to the Christmas holiday. If you are looking for the biggest and brightest market, be sure to visit the La Magie de Noël in the Tuileries Garden, next the Louvre. We have personally visited this one and it is massive. A mix between a Christmas Carnival and craft fair, there are stalls full of delicious food and mulled wine next to amusement park like rides and a ferris wheel. You'll find plenty of opportunity for shopping as well, as local artisans and vendors set up stalls to sell their beautiful and homemade goods. There are many other beautiful markets to partake of as well, namely near any of the breathtaking landmarks of the city--Notre Dame, Sacré- Coeur, the Hôtel de Ville, and more. The Hôtel de Ville boasts of beautiful light shows projected on the side of the neo-Renaissance building with even a luge like tubing lane for children to slide down. So wherever you are in Paris this holiday season, there is sure to be a magical Marché de Nöel nearby!
Lastly, we wanted to share an Italian destination with you and knew it had to be Milan! Milan has a handful of delightful Christmas Markets with the most famous one being at the iconic Piazza Duomo. While it may be smaller than it's other European counterparts, these 60 wooden chalets offer homemade treats and gifts. While the Duomo offers the most picturesque of Christmas Markets the most famous is surprisingly hosted at the Sforza Castle for just three to four days beginning on the feast of Saint Ambrose (December 7) and continuing until the following Sunday. This market attracts thousands of visitors every year and sells handcrafted items, food and delicacies--an event you won't want to miss!
Want to see multiple destinations at once? consider a river cruise!
If you can't decide which Christmas Market to visit this year, we may have a solution! Every year, different cruise companies will offer a few different itineraries allowing you and your loved ones to visit a few different markets at once! Below you can see a few of our partners' cruise itineraries throughout Europe. While many of them open in November for cruising, we suggest waiting until near the start of the Advent Season, four Sundays before Christmas, as many more Christmas markets open at this time of year. This year, that falls on November 27 with some of the Christmas markets opening as early as Thanksgiving day!
Are you ready to make some unforgettable Christmas Memories? Let's start planning your Christmas Market tour of Europe!
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