It is that Christmas Market time of the year again. Though you may miss many Christmas Markets this year, this is the time to begin thinking about Christmas Markets for next year.
In our travels, Germany is still the country with the best Christmas Markets. We have visited the Christmas Markets in Nuremberg(the largest in Europe), Munich (the most Christmas Markets in one city), and Mainz(three small but very personal Christmas Markets). In addition, we know that both Dresden and Leipzig have wonderful celebrations, along with Cologne.
For us, in second place, just behind Germany, are the three major Christmas Markets in Brussels, Antwerp, and Bruges, Belgium. The Christmas Market in Brussels is massive in two main sections and beautifully done with the Grande Place as its backdrop. The Christmas Market in Antwerp is well done and stretches the length of the downtown. The Christmas Market in the ultimately beautiful city of Bruges is small compared to other markets and is located in its main square. The secret here is to stay overnight in Bruges and watch the entire city and its canals light up in a special Christmas glow that cannot be duplicated in larger cities. Add a little snow, and this experience cannot be imagined anywhere else.
In Austria, we know that the Christmas Market in Vienna is special, but we have only attended the market in Salzburg, and we found this city and this market to be illuminating during the Christmas Season. Likewise, we have not been to the Christmas Markets in both Strasburg and Colmar, France, but we understand that they are considered to be some of the best in Europe.
The Christmas Market in Paris has been small and limited over the past couple of years, and the same can be said about the markets in Nice, France, and Monte Carlo.
Prague, in the Czech Republic, can be added to the list of the best Christmas Markets in Europe. Prague is a fabulous city and a walker’s paradise, but when it comes to Christmas, it’s market in the center of the old town cannot be beaten.
The two Christmas Markets in Zurich and the Basel market were found to be limited and disappointing.
Our home territory of New York has our famous Bryant Park Winter Village, which opens as early as late October. This market features many Christmas shops and stores, a large ice-skating rink, and an equally famous restaurant, The Bryant Park Grill. All of this Christmas Spirit is centered right in Midtown Manhattan. Also in New York City is the similarly famous Holiday Market at Union Square. Though a smaller market, the Union Square Market is well known, loved by New Yorkers, well attended, and with much less “glitz” than other New York City Markets.
So there you have it, take your pick or take them all! Most Christmas Markets are open from the last week of November and don’t close until just after Christmas or the beginning of January, so there is plenty of time to attend more than just one market. We love going to Europe during the first two weeks of December when travel tends to be lower for better airfares and hotel prices.