Our top choices for Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets Europe 2012

It’s hard to believe that I am sitting here writing about something Christmassy. I totally ignored everything on Facebook and twitter that people posted last month saying there was only 100 days to go, but we now have car-booker.com customers booking their rental cars for the Christmas period. So… it is time to face the truth… Christmas is creeping up on us again!! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas, everything about it from the twinkly lights, the Christmas songs, the over eating, the buying of gifts… and receiving obviously!! So I thought it would be nice to do a little research on the European Christmas markets and see what’s out there and what’s hot in December!

Cologne, Germany

26th November – 23rd December 2012

Cologne has not one, not two, not three but four Christmas markets around the city and it attracts millions of visitors in the run up to Christmas each year. The most impressive of these markets is the ‘Am Dom’ market which boasts over 150 beautiful wooden stalls set against the backdrop of the Cologne Cathedral. The market surrounds a huge Christmas tree and you can soak up the festive cheer or even create it with a glass of mulled wine. The wares on offer are usually Christmas decorations, arts and crafts, candles and ceramics. You will be entertained by bands and street musicians. If you are bringing kids, venture a little further south to Alter Markt in the heart of the old town which boasts a lovely Santa’s Grotto and great toy and sweet stalls.

Vienna, Austria

17th November – 24th December 2012

The most famous of Vienna’s Christmas markets is the ‘Magic of Advent in Vienna’ in Rathausplatz. This is a place that would melt the coldest heart at Christmas with little wooden hits full of Christmas decorations which become like a sea of stars at night. Couple meet at the heart tree and kids bring their parents along to the listen to the Talking Tree.. and there is even Post Office in the clouds. The park around the market is also a treat with trees decorated in lights shaped like hearts or angles or lanterns and much much more. Make sure you try some apfel strudel, maroni (chestnuts) and gingerbread and of course some mulled wine or warmed punch to heat you up. If you are bringing kids, make sure you venture to the town hall which is decorated as a giant Advent calendar and has loads to make them feel the magic.

Prague, Czech Republic

1st December 2012– 6th January 2013

Prague is a city that has reason to take Christmas seriously; when you add all the ingredients that this city has on offer, it makes for a pretty special winter fairy tale experience; a light dusting of snow, a chill in the clear crisp air, music playing, carollers singing, cobbled streets, lights twinkling, families out and about together scoffing gingerbread and sweet mead and a great atmosphere everywhere. There are also a lot of cultural events including folk displays and concerts and street theatre in December which add to the atmosphere around the city. Christmas markets are family friendly and easily accessible, with the main market in Prague is located at the Old Town Square, with smaller markets in Republic Square and Havel’s market. If you have kids with you make sure you visit the petting zoo and open-air stage which will provide entertainment in the form of Czech children singing and dancing in traditional dress. Well worth a visit.

Copenhagen, Denmark

9th November – 28th December 2012

An ideal Christmas market venue for the young and the young at heart. Set in downtown Copenhagen in the area called Tivoli you will be treated to a beautiful setting like something straight out of Hans Christian Andersen with hundreds of brightly lit Christmas trees. Creating the festive spirit is a combination of great lighting on around the city and on the Christmas trees, pony rides, ice skating, gorgeous restaurants and excellent shopping. Sip on the local speciality of glogg which is a Danish mulled wine with spices, or apple dumplings to warm you up as you shop.

Krakow, Poland

27th November – 27th December 2012

This is the place to go to experience a truly white Christmas and soak up the festive spirit which is magical leading up to Christmas in Krakow. You can enjoy the cold crisp climate, the snow underfoot, the amazing architecture that the city has on offer as well as lots of culture and tradition to add to the mix. From the start of December you will see the seasonal street decorations and adornments in all the shops, singers carolling and music everywhere and the shops humming with Christmas shoppers. The market itself takes up the majority of Rynek (known in English as Market Square). Wooden stands have a huge range of Christmas decorations and sweets as well as candles and arts and crafts which would make thoughtful gifts. Stalls and outdoor eateries offer hearty meals and mulled wine to revive you and get your spirits back up from strolling around all the stalls. Plus there are additional attractions such as shows, folk dances, concerts of carols, etc. And don’t miss out on Krakow’s famous hand-painted decorations for you Christmas tree.

Where ever you go to soak up the festive spirit, be in to a market down the road or one of those mentioned above, or one of the many across Europe… we hope you enjoy.

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