European Christmas Markets: Five Great Christmas Shopping Experiences
by Becky Padmore
Europe has a wide range of Christmas markets, so whether you are searching for the ultimate Christmas tree topper or if you've just developed a strong liking for mulled wine here is a guide to the top five seasonal markets in Europe. Many Christmas markets offer goods at discounted prices in December so be sure to shop around for the best price.
1 Cologne: Cologne's Christmas market is a giant sprawling affair, as 6 markets are packed into the one city, 4 of which at the foot of the impressive Gothic cathedral. Two million people visit every year, soaking up the festive atmosphere, and of course, the mulled wine. Wooden stalls, an ice rink, and a floating market add to the fun, and if you haven't indulged enough, be sure to check out the Chocolate Museum.
2. Prague: Fairy tales, folklore and tradition feature at the heart of Prague's Christmas market. Beautiful traditional decorations, gifts and food are on offer, along with a well decorated Christmas tree, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a nativity themed petting zoo.
3. Valkenburg: The Christmas market in the Dutch town of Valkenburg offers a slightly more unusual shopping experience. The whole market takes place in a cave underneath the city and visitors particularly enjoy the atmospheric and cavernous shopping experience. Wander the candle-lit labyrinth of passageways and caverns for gifts and decorations and make sure you also see the impressive mural carvings and sculptures also located there.
4. Belgium: The Christmas market held annually in Brussels every year is perfect for shoppers passionate about food. Steamed snails, oysters, gingerbread, forest mushrooms on toast and of course the tasty Belgian chocolates are just a few dishes on offer. Other reasons to visit the pretty seasonal market in Place Sainte Catherine are the colourful rides, lively entertainment and the fun temporary ice skating rink.
5. Vienna: Christkindlmarkte in Vienna, Austria is a very popular market, dating back hundreds of years. It's a traditional event at heart, with an focus on nostalgia, fun and love. Concerts, nativity displays and a live advent calendar are here to enjoy. The atmospheric alleys and town square are filled with the delightful smells of candied fruits, punch and roast chestnuts - a perfect scene-setter for that quintessentialChristmas shopping experience. - 39969