Christmas markets have been around for a long time (since the 14th century in fact) but in recent years tourists have realised that these markets offer the perfect winter break. So why have they become such a great option for Irish tourists?
Christmas markets originated from central European cities such as Munich, Dresden and Vienna. At first they were simply a seasonal market not too different from the many markets that took place in the town square at any other time of the year. As the years went by Christmas markets became the most important markets of the year and by the 18th century when Christmas gift-giving and other festive traditions had become popular, the Christmas markets were now a central part of the festive celebrations.
So why are continental Christmas Markets so popular with visitors from other parts of the world? One reason is that these markets give people a real sense of a traditional Christmas. The delicious food, the mulled wine, the handmade decorations and toys are what so many people associate with Christmas. The festive atmosphere these markets provide can be the perfect tonic to what is sometimes a stressful season back at home with people scurrying around the streets to get everything sorted for the big day. The market atmosphere combined with the crisp cold winter weather that central Europe enjoys makes for something very special.
Where to go?
As the capital city of Germany it is no surprise that Berlin knows how to put on a Christmas market. There are over 300 different markets all across Berlin during the month of December but the most famous of these are the markets at Charlottenburg Palace and Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt. Very centrally located these markets are famous for their array of unique handmade-products. Manufacturers come from far and near to show their talents to the world at these popular Berlin markets. And it’s not just craft goods that are popular at this market, delicious cheeses, baked goods and white chocolate milk also have to be tried!
Book with: loveholidays offer a 3 night trip to Berlin staying in a 3* hotel leaving Dublin on 11th of December with return flights from €144pp. Read more here!
The best of Prague’s markets can be found on the beautiful Wenceslas Square which has a towering Christmas tree watching over the city centre. A great atmosphere is created with the decorated wooden huts selling Christmas treats all over the square. Traditional arts and crafts, jewellery, ceramics and clothing can also be picked up by shoppers looking for present ideas. As it is Prague after all, great Czech beer is available at various huts for thirsty shoppers!
Book with: Wallace Travel Group offer a 3 night break Prague leaving on 9th December from €269pp. Read more here!
Poland’s most famous Christmas market takes place in the beautiful city of Krakow. The Christmas market in Krakow takes place every year on the city’s huge central square, Rynek Glowny, in the middle of the Old Town historic district.
Like the other Christmas markets the main square is taken over for the month of December by scores of wooden stalls. They sell a wide range of varied Christmas decorations, gifts, toys, sweets, other delicious food and of course, mulled wine. What makes the atmosphere extra-special in Krakow is that it is common to find children singing carols in the square during December as shoppers browse from stall to stall.
Book with: Gohop offer a great value 2 night stay in Krakow leaving on December 4th from €126pp. Read more here!
Budapest’s Christmas Markets are growing in popularity each year and the most famous one is found right in the heart of the city at Vorosmarty Ter. The market is at the end of Vaci Utca which is a hub for shopping throughout the year. The fair is home to a great selection of traditional Hungarian handicrafts, beautiful homemade treats and delicious hot drinks. One of the must try local treats is the cinnamon chimney cake Kürtőskalács. The market has a very traditional feel and the folklore performances, carol singing and other festive activities add to this to make it a very special experience.
Book with: Budget Travel offer a 3 night stay in at the 5* luxury city break leaving on December 2nd from €210pp. Read more here!
More and more tourists are discovering the joys of the Latvian capital which hosts wonderful Christmas markets each December. The markets gather around the city’s historical Doma and Livu squares and run all the way up to Orthodox Christmas. Shoppers can get a real sense of how the festive period is celebrated in eastern Europe as they browse through gifts made by skilled Latvian craftsmen and savour the local treats and mulled wine.
Book with: Teletext Holidays Fly to Riga for a 3 night weekend break leaving on December 7th from €140pp. Read more here!