A Christmas market is the place to revel in the festivities of the holiday season. Whether you’re looking for a romantic date on the town or just want to chow down with friends, the colorful, open-air market stalls offer singing, dancing and twinkling lights, plus an over-abundance of roasted chestnuts, glühwein, schnitzel, crepes and more. Need to cross some presents off your gift list? Go shopping and surprise your friends and family with unique gifts like authentic wood carvings, toys, knitted goods, nutcrackers, pottery or local crafts. No matter where you are in the world, we’ve found a Christmas market for you.
1. Donut Lover’s Paradise: Innsbruck Christmas in the Mountains: Let Austria’s wintery wonderland of Christmas markets enchant you with glittering trees and festive stalls. You can explore all six markets or head straight to the oldest and most romantic, the Altstadt Market. Snack on kiachln, piping hot donuts laced with Sauerkraut or jam, while you shop local handicrafts, candles and pastries against the snow-covered Nordketten mountain range. (via Innsbruck)
2. Chocolate Lover’s Paradise: Bruges Christmas Market: Ring in the festivities on the cobblestoned streets of this magical medieval city where our chocolate lover wishes really do come true. Get ready to ice skate as the market square is transformed into an ice rink surrounded by food and festive gift stalls. (via Mashable)
3. For the Boozies Among Us: Toronto Christmas Market: Take a trip back in time and toast to holiday cheer in Toronto’s historic Distillery District, which becomes an old-world Christmas market each winter. Rowdy biergartens invite you to warm up with craft beers or seasonal cocktails, while Santa and his reindeer await the kiddos. Don’t miss a ride on the Ferris wheel, and be sure to sneak a kiss under the mistletoe.
4. For the Indecisive: Shanghai’s German Christmas Market: For a truly global expierence, immerse yourself in Shanghai’s winter wonderland of international crafts and foods. Whether you’re craving Shanghai’s infamous dumplings, Italy’s panettone, Turkey’s kebabs or Germany’s pretzels, it’s all here. (via Bolsover Photos)
5. Pancake Delight: Christmas in Tivoli Gardens: Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens are practically overflowing with Christmas spirit. Shopping is sure to be memorable with Danish designs, crafts, decor and a glimpse at Father Christmas himself. Your Nordic Christmas wouldn’t be complete without delicacies like aebleskiver, Danish pancakes and gløgg (warm red wine with spices).
6. Shopping Bonanza: Christmas Markets: Plan ahead and don’t miss out on Albert Square’s international smorgasbord filled with Dutch pancakes, French macarons, Hungarian goulash and German sausages. Warm up with hot cocoa or a local favorite, Christmas punch, a spirited blend of alcohol and fruit juices, while you’re browsing the vendors’ impressive spread of everything from hand-crafted leather bags to bird houses and bonsai trees. (via Geograph)
7. For Fearless Foodies: Tallin Christmas Market: Are you ready for a magical Christmas fairytale, complete with Santa’s house and reindeer, too? Then Tallin Christmas Market’s living Christmas land, filled with snow sculptures, twinkling lights and a giant Christmas tree, awaits you. While you’re getting your hand-crafted purchases, like buckwheat pillows, wooden bowls, felted wool hats and locally-made honey, gift wrapped, warm up with Estonian traditional eats, like black blood pudding, sour cabbage and marzipan sweets. (via Active)
8. Tiny Tot Toyland: La Magie de Noël: Leave it to the French to figure out how to keep the kiddos entertained while you’re holiday shopping. Take your time perusing the Alsace market’s artisanal crafts and antiques while the kids enjoy their own “private” market place, filled exclusively with stuffed toys, wooden figurines, clowns, gingerbread, a merry-go-round and a giant letterbox for sending letters to Father Christmas.
9. Christmas Tree Lovers: Weihnsachtsmarkt Am Kolner Dam: In the shadow of the gothic Cologne Cathedral stands the largest Christmas tree in the Rhine. Roam throughout Cologne, Germany’s 200+ stalls selling traditional yuletide wares of hand-crafted toys, Christmas pyramids, lambskin shoes, alpaca sweaters and handblown tree ornaments. The aromas of spiced mulled wine, gingerbread and sausage are sure to entice you as you soak in the festive atmosphere. (via Daily Mail)
10. For Medieval Merrymakers: Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt: Love the medieval experience, but looking for something slightly more sophisticated than a turkey leg? A visit to Stuttgarter, Germany might be just the trip you need. Enjoy the decorated stalls filled with Christmas candle pyramids, handblown ornaments, nutcrackers, housewares and toys, all while sampling candied nuts and traditional German dishes, like bratwursts, kartofflepuffers and spätzle.
11. Foodie Heaven: Mercatino di Natali Trento: If you’re a foodie, get to the Piazza Fiera in Trentino, Italy, where you’ll find over 70 chalets filled with local nuts, oils, grappa, liqueurs and jams. In typical foodie fashion, be sure to arrive hungry so you can taste Trentino’s best polenta, meats, soups and dumplings, as well as sweet strudel and strauben. (via Mercatini di Natale)
12. Nature Lovers’ Retreat: Marché Vert Noël: Ditch the city and breathe in the fresh, pine-scented air of this holiday market, where you can wader through Aosta, Italy’s pedestrian-only streets and shop at chalets filled with ceramics, handicrafts of wool, felt, leather and hemp, Christmas decor and handmade wooden gifts. (via Swide)
13. Dessert Haven: Firenze Mercatini di Natale: Germany and Italy join forces to bring you a Florencian Christmas market filled with tantalizing sweets like panforte, panettone, lebkuchen and stollen. Sing Christmas carols, try out a cooking lesson or peruse festive wares like hand-made toys, ceramics, tree trimmings, woolen goods and Nativity figurines. (via Florence with Flair)
14. For Good Luck Seekers: Fira de Santa Lúcia: You won’t find schnitzel or bratwurst at Barcelona’s largest holiday market, but you’ll be too busy chowing down on traditional Spanish dishes like chocolate with churro fritters to care. Make sure to keep your eye out for the Caganer, a Catalan Christmas tradition featuring a tiny figurine with his trousers down, hidden in amongst nativity scenes — finding the little guy is said to bring good luck.
15. Waffle Wonderland: Basler Weihnacht: The largest, most traditional and prettiest Christmas market in all of Switzerland is worth a visit. Fortify yourself against the chill with fresh baked waffles, Basel Läckerli (a kind of gingerbread), delicious Swiss raclette or grilled sausages. Peruse the rustic wooden chalets, which offer artisan goods and decorations to make your holidays merry and bright.
16. For Stateside German Lovers: Christkindlmarket: Welcome to Chicago, where you can find North America’s largest Christmas market, inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany. Visitors can peruse handcrafted German wares like nutcrackers, beer steins and cuckoo clocks, while keeping warm with hot mulled wine and a briny sausage. Don’t miss out on Kathe Wohlfahrt’s traditional German Christmas ornaments or Alpine Heritage’s miniature Nativity scenes.
17. Artisanal Bliss: Union Square Holiday Market: Get swept into the festive spirit amongst international artisans at this holly-lined, renegadecraft fair. Discover local New York City artists, socially-conscious goods, home goods and small-batch goods including jams and olive oils. Afterwards, fill your belly with an array of authentic eats, from Persian soup to rich hot chocolate. (via Mashable)
18. Christmas for Lovers: Christmas Village: If you LOVE Christmas, get yourself to Philly’s LOVE park to get in the perfect Christmas spirit. A traditional German-style market, Christmas Village is complete with 60 wooden huts offering international holiday gifts. Engulf yourself in thousands of sparkling lights, the big Holiday Tree and mouth-watering scents of gingerbread, candied almonds and mulled wine. (via Visit Philly)
Let us know what holiday markets are on your list this year in the comments below.