Do you want to head somewhere with bespoke clothing, artisanal food, seasonal ornaments and traditional entertainment for the holidays? Here are some of the most impressive and picturesque markets around the world.
Holiday markets are a great way to feel the festive spirit during the winter holidays. In fact, we can’t think of a better one. Finding unique gifts, taking in the entertainment, treating yourself to hot chocolate and sampling some of the best seasonal cuisine are just some of the joys you’ll find.
Nuremberg holds one of the world's most famous holiday markets, which dates back to the mid-16th century, making it one of the oldest as well. Held in the Old Town’s central square, you’ll find an abundance of wooden stalls, nearly 200 in all, decorated in red and white cloth and colourful lights, displaying handcrafted seasonal ornaments, toys and holiday treats. A trip isn’t complete without trying some delicacies like the fruit loaves or spicy gingerbread and going on a carriage ride around town to soak it all in. Another thing not to be missed is the lantern procession by Nuremberg schoolchildren.
Tivoli Gardens Market, Denmark
Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, known for amusement park rides and restaurants, becomes a wonderland of sight and sound over the holidays. With 50 different stalls lining the park’s pathways, it’s hard not to find something that calls to you, from traditional holiday products and entertainment, to Scandinavian knitwear and Danish treats like aebleskive and aebleskiver. Tivoli Gardens restaurants and attractions are open for business and there are additional winter rides for the children to enjoy.
Toronto Market, Canada
Much like the city itself, the Toronto Market is a blend of old and new, combining old world charm with modern-day holiday attractions. Hosted in the city’s Distillery Historic District, the market features festive lighting and décor and musical performances such as Bavarian brass bands. Along with a Ferris wheel and hospitality lounges, shoppers choose between dozens of stalls selling everything from woolly hats and alpaca shawls to local, handcrafted products and regional treats like maple syrup. Activities for kids include a fairytale forest maze and snacks run the gamut from hot chestnuts and gingerbread biscuits to French Canadian poutine.
LOVE Park, USA
Every year LOVE Park, just west of Philadelphia’s City Hall, transforms into a bustling festive village, modelled after traditional German markets. It features over 60 wooden booths with international crafts and gifts like nutcrackers, nesting dolls, hand-painted glass ornaments, Indian folk art, handmade hats, pottery, jewellery and vintage toys. You can also indulge in Philadelphian and traditional European food and drink like Nutella-topped waffles, strudels, soft pretzels and hot chocolate. The market also includes live glassblowing demonstrations, live performances by local artists and a lighting ceremony.
Tallinn Market, Estonia
Set in Tallinn’s picturesque Town Hall Square, the market is a true “Winter Wonderland” with illuminated snow sculptures and glittering decorations and lights. Small chalets throughout the market sell handcrafted products like buckwheat pillows, wooden bowls, felted wool hats and locally made honey. Save room to sample an array of Estonian seasonal food like sauerkraut, marzipan sweets and black blood pudding. The market also hosts several different holiday-themed contests, a cultural programme and a mini-zoo for the little ones.
Fira de Santa Llúcia, Spain
Barcelona's largest holiday market offers over 280 stands with artisanal wares and decorations. The stands are divided into four sections with one especially for simbombes, traditional musical instruments. Products include the famous caganer, a small squatting figure with a "surprise" at the back. Unlike most European Christmas markets, they don’t have the traditional food and drink offerings, leading you to enjoy Spanish dishes instead. Visitors can also appreciate Scandinavian music and Catalan dance performances. Try visiting on December 13, on Dia de Santa Llúcia (St. Lucy’s Day) for the storytelling, singing, dance performances and parade.
Schönbrunn Market, Vienna
Vienna transforms its most popular squares into colourful villages, making visitors will feel like they’ve stepped into a fairytale. Guests can shop, eat and explore to their heart’s content. The Parade Court in front of Schönbrunn Palace is one of the best to check out. They have about 70 exhibitors peddling holiday goods like tin toys and handmade decorations. As well as crepes and warm apple desserts, culinary highlights include raclette with bread and gröstl, pan-fried potatoes served with various ingredients. A trip to Vienna’s city hall will also make your trip special.