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The sweet scent of candied nuts roasting in sugar, mulled wine and meats roasted over an open fire, the sounds of choirs singing carols and rows of decorated hand-carved wooden chalets selling handmade trinkets threaded together with filaments of twinkling lights. It’s Christmas Markets in Europe, the most joyful place on earth!

Vienna, Austria

10 November to 26 December 2023

Vienna’s Christmas markets have a storied history dating back to the 13th century, and today, they rank among Europe’s most renowned. As winter descends, Vienna awakens in a magical display of festivity and lights.

With a snowy blanket often covering the city, Vienna’s cobbled streets host several large Christmas markets, each with its unique local flavour. 

The Rathausplatz market, in front of the splendid Town Hall, is Vienna’s most popular. With over 150 chalets, it’s one of Europe’s largest. There’s a special children’s area for cookie and candle-making. At the same time, parents can indulge in Viennese pastries and seasonal delicacies like glühwein, roasted chestnuts, and spicy Christmas cookies from numerous food stands.

Don’t miss the Rathaus’s Advent windows, decorated by local artists, or the radiant tree illuminations in Rathauspark, featuring an ice rink, Ferris wheel, and nativity scene trail. And, of course, the iconic Tree of Hearts adorned with red hearts, perfect for a romantic moment.

For a more traditional experience, explore the Spittelberg district with its small, charming chalets. Another favourite is the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt at Freyung, in a lovely park, offering a relaxed atmosphere, hot chocolate, and the famous Sachertorte. Vienna’s Christmas markets promise a season of cherished memories and timeless traditions in a winter wonderland.

Strasbourg, France

24 November to 24 December

Discover the magic of Strasbourg, home to France’s oldest and most historic Christmas market, Christkindelsmärik, dating back to 1570. Nestled at Place Broglie and around the cathedral, it proudly earns Strasbourg its title as the “Capital of Noel.”

Taste fresh pretzels, spaetzle, knack sausage, and crepes at food markets. Artisans showcase their skills, offering unique wares for perfect Christmas gifts.

With over 300 beautifully adorned stalls, discover ornaments, toys, treats, and mulled wine. Wander amidst twinkling lights and festive decor, including teddy bear half-timbered hotels and angel-lined streets. The illuminated Strasbourg cathedral watches over the market alongside a 30-meter-tall tree.

A highlight is the towering Great Christmas Tree in Place Kléber, adorned with over 7 kilometres of lights. Enjoy Christmas concerts, parades, and light shows.

Strasbourg’s markets, scattered across the Grand Ile, offer character and charm. The Alsace market at Place des Meuniers, primarily gastronomic, is a haven for local produce, from craft beer to award-winning Bredele cookies. Explore the OFF Christmas market at Place Grimmeisen, focused on sustainability, with recycled gifts and fairtrade products.

Venture into the Vosges mountains to discover quaint Christmas markets in Alsace villages like Ribeauvillé, Kaysersberg, Eguisheim, and Riquewihr—where magic comes to life during the holiday season.

Prague, Czech Republic

2 December 2023 to 6 January 2024

With its postcard-perfect charm, Prague becomes a winter wonderland during the festive season. It’s the ideal destination for open-air concerts and traditional nativity scenes. The city’s cobbled streets and ornate architecture create a magical backdrop for Christmas celebrations.

At the heart of Prague’s Christmas cheer is Wenceslas Square, home to the country’s most impressive Christmas market. Adorably decorated stalls offer local crafts, wooden toys, and hand-blown glass baubles. Delight your taste buds with grilled sausages, langoš (flatbreads with savoury toppings), pancakes, and trdelník (local sweet pastries). Warm up with local mulled wine or a glass of grog (rum, water, lemon & sugar).

Prague’s romantic ambience is especially enchanting during Christmas markets, with drizzling snow, medieval and gothic buildings, and the iconic Charles Bridge. The Old Town Square hosts the largest market in Prague, surrounded by the city’s Astronomical Clock and Tyn Church. Nativity scenes, theatrical performances, and musical acts infuse the market with festive spirit. Climb the observation bridge for a perfect photo op as the sun sets.

Prague’s most famous and largest Christmas market awaits in the Old Town Square. Children can pet goats, sheep, and donkeys in the animal stable while marvelling at the 25-meter illuminated Christmas tree. Prague’s Christmas markets promise traditional festivities in breathtaking settings, with live nativity animals for the little ones to adore.

Copenhagen, Denmark

17 November to 31 December 2023

Copenhagen exudes continental festive cheer, boasting several charming Christmas markets. Yet, the heart of the Danish capital beats strongest at the Christmas market in Tivoli Gardens.

This historic amusement park transforms into an illuminated wonderland during the holiday season. Over half a million twinkling fairy lights and 70,000 baubles adorn the park, turning it into a winter haven. It boasts 60 wooden huts offering Christmas ornaments, trinkets, wooden toys, ceramics, and cosy knitwear.

Tivoli Gardens becomes a Santa’s village, offering everything you could wish for on a festive day out—ice skating rinks, a Santa’s Grotto, live music performances, and daily parades featuring Santa Claus and his elves. You can even embark on a ride on the Polar Express or enjoy the dazzling spectacle of an illuminated Ferris wheel gracing the Danish skyline in the evenings. The park’s amusement rides add extra excitement to the market experience.

As you stroll through Tivoli Gardens, the tantalising aroma of caramelised almonds and the fragrant scent of cinnamon-infused mulled wine (locally known as gløgg), æbleskiver (traditional Danish pancakes), hot chocolate, and Danish Christmas beer envelop you in the joy of the Christmas market.

Budapest, Hungary

17 November to 31 December 2023

Voted Best Christmas Market in Europe for three consecutive years, Budapest’s Advent Basilica Christmas Market radiates warmth and charm, enchanting all who visit. Celebrating its 13th year in 2023, this cosy market graces the front of St. Stephen’s Basilica in the heart of the Hungarian capital.

Among Europe’s most beautiful, Budapest’s Christmas Market unfolds in front of the splendid 19th-century Gerbeaud House. The Neo-Classical cathedral’s facade becomes a canvas for a festive laser light show each evening. A towering 12-meter Christmas tree stands at the centre of the free ice-skating rink, creating a captivating focal point. The market also boasts a giant Ferris wheel and a nativity scene.

For a larger but equally lively market experience, visit Vorosmarty Square in the heart of Budapest. The scent of honey cookies, mulled wine, cinnamon, and fir fills the air. Over 100 beautifully decorated stalls offer traditional Hungarian gifts and handmade crafts. Enjoy live shows and music on two outdoor stages, with local choirs providing daily concerts.

Culinary delights abound, with street foods and Hungarian classics like goulash, lángos (deep-fried flatbread), and kürtőskalács (chimney cake).

While in Budapest, take advantage of the stunning Szechenyi Baths, where thermal outdoor pools take on a mystical aura in the winter air. 

Salzburg, Austria

23 November 2023 to 1 January 2024

Salzburg, the picturesque hometown of Mozart and The Sound of Music, truly comes alive during Christmas. Snow-sprinkled renditions of Silent Night, first performed nearby, fill the air with festive magic. The traditional huts, reminiscent of the 15th century, exude timeless charm, adorned by specially designed lighting that transforms the market into a starry wonderland.

The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt at the Dom and Residenzplatz, one of the world’s oldest Advent markets, focuses on quality over quantity. Hand-knitted socks and handmade candles make perfect stocking fillers in this unique World Heritage-listed Old City setting.

The market officially opens with pomp on the Thursday before the first Sunday in Advent. Embrace local folk customs, traditional tree decorations, and gifts for all. Savour Austrian specialities, mulled wine, and hot punch to tantalise your taste buds.

A lively daily programme includes children’s Christmas story readings, guided tours, visits from the “Christ Child,” and festive melodies from surrounding towers. Don’t miss the free daily concerts, where you can join carolling in front of the cathedral.

Salzburg’s Krampus Run is a unique event featuring terrifying hand-carved masks, curved horns, shaggy pelts, and jangling bells. These wild figures, growling and dancing down the streets, ward off dark winter spirits, preserving centuries-old folk customs in a captivating spectacle.

Cologne, Germany

23 November to 23 December 2023

Germany is a Christmas wonderland, where medieval town squares come alive each winter with lebkuchen, glühwein, and twinkling lights. Among them, Cologne stands out, hosting an array of lavishly decorated Christmas markets, each with its unique theme.

The Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, located near the iconic 13th-century cathedral, is the grandest. Iconic red-roofed chalets and twinkling lights create a starry ambience. Angels gracefully flit between elaborately decorated gables. Markt der Engel, a festive favourite, offers over 100 stage performances featuring Christmas swing music, sing-along concerts, gospel choirs, and gluhwein.

Market der Engel at Neumarkt Square is another gem. A starlit canopy, a beautiful carousel, and angel-costumed women delight children with sweets.

The House Elves’ Winter Fairytale Christmas Market (Heinzels Wintermärchen) spans Alter Markt and Heumarkt squares in Cologne’s old town, with festive stalls for gift shopping. Elf statues and a carousel enchant children, and an ice-skating rink on Heumarkt adds to the magic.

In Rudolfplatz, the Nicholas’ Village Christmas Market captivates families with half-timber houses, a life-sized crib, and candy floss vendors. Against the backdrop of Hahnen Gate, a 13th-century relic, this market exudes holiday charm.

Cologne’s Christmas markets promise a journey into a world of festive enchantment and joy.

Colmar, France 

23 November to 29 December 2023

Nestled in France’s Alsace region, Colmar is a fairy-tale town that sets the stage for Christmas magic. Stroll along wooden chalets and cobbled streets adorned with lights and decorations, immersing yourself in a holiday wonderland. In the iconic “Petite Venise” district, charming boats illuminated with lights carry children’s choirs from the Colmar region, singing traditional carols on the canal.

During the festive season, Colmar transforms into a dreamlike world. Like an open-air theatre, the entire town brims with warm Christmas cheer.

Colmar’s six Christmas markets in the historic town centre radiate inviting warmth with unique themes, promising delightful discoveries. 

The Christmas by Biergarten market, set in an old forge’s courtyard, offers Alsatian festive traditions with drinks and snacks. At the Gourmet Market, nine chefs in nine cabins tantalise your palate with dishes from oysters to Alsatian specialities. The Children’s Christmas Market is enchanted with 43 colourful cottages, treasures, and a nativity scene.

Walk through the Christmas Market’s alleys, where 60 small chalets showcase handcrafted baubles and festive trinkets. The Magic of Christmas in the Old Town transforms the historic setting with illuminations, enhancing the town’s heritage.

The Handcraft Christmas Market within a medieval building features 20 local artisans, while the Toy Museum entertains on the first floor.

Explore the Alsatian vineyards, where wine cellars decorated for Christmas offer tastings and insight into regional winemaking and traditions. Colmar’s Christmas charm promises a journey into a realm of festive enchantment and joy.

Bruges, Belgium 

24 November 2023 to 07 January 2024

The captivating city of Bruges, famous for its canals and medieval charm, transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas.

As you wander the streets, the sweet scent of buttery waffles, Belgian chocolate, and festive lights will surround you. The city adorns itself like a gingerbread house, with candles, handmade wooden toys, and twinkling lights reflecting on the canals. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through one of Europe’s cosiest Christmas markets, as Bruges, a small city, offers an intimate and traditional festive atmosphere.

Indulge in artfully decorated yule logs and rich hot chocolate in a city renowned for its chocolate. Try a sip of jenever, the local gin, and don’t miss the homemade cocoa-infused version at Bacchus Cornelius.

The primary Bruges Christmas market is in Grote Markt, where charming wooden chalets surround a glittering ice rink, and the 83-meter-high belfry provides stunning panoramic views. A smaller market near Simon Stevinplein offers more delights along the way.

Bruges’ Christmas celebrations, known as ‘Winter Glow,’ feature Saint Nicolas Day and a Light Experience Trail, where eight light installations illuminate key landmarks with vibrant colours, offering a unique perspective of the historic city.

Brussels, Belgium 

24 November to 31 December 2023

Prepare for a sensory feast as you meander through the 2.5km stretch of Winter Wonders (Plaisirs d’Hiver) in Brussels. The air is filled with the tantalising aroma of festive treats, from mulled wine to Belgian beer, waffles to seafood. Brussels Christmas Markets extend across the capital, including Grand Place, Rue de la Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine, and Marché aux Poissons, the largest of them all.

Among the 260 charming wooden stalls, discover delightful gifts and festive treasures. As you explore the brightly illuminated stands, treat yourself to smoutebollen/oliebollen (deep-fried sweet dumplings), jenever (gin), or warm Glühwein (mulled wine). At Marché aux Poissons, daredevils can spin the towering Ferris wheel, enjoying a breathtaking view of the adorned city.

For a cultural experience at Brussels Christmas Market 2023, head to Place Sainte-Catherine and La Tour Noire, where you can savour culinary delights and crafts from various countries. Children can revel in merry-go-rounds and festive fun.

Brussels Christmas markets offer various attractions, from a virtual reality dome to a local ethical creators’ factory and an enormous inflatable ice monster for the little ones. If you’re up for thrilling winter activities, discover two ice rinks and a curling track at Place De Brouckère and Bois de la Cambre. Immerse yourself in the festive spirit at Grand Place, where an enchanting illuminated Christmas sound and light show showcases the architectural beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage city centre. Brussels at Christmas is truly magical.

Reserve your stay at a European Christmas Market with Insignia

Experience the magic of Christmas in Europe as these enchanting markets come to life. From the storied streets of Vienna, Austria, to the charming canals of Bruges, Belgium, each destination offers a unique and unforgettable holiday experience. At Insignia, we can arrange exclusive value-added benefits at prestigious properties through the Insignia Hotel Collection, exclusive access to VIP events courtesy of our award-winning luxury lifestyle service, a personalised aviation experience through our Insignia Jets programme, and so much more. To find out more, contact your Personal Assistant. Not a member? Visit our card section, browse our portfolio of premium payment products and discover another world with Insignia. 

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