Christmas Markets in Europe
Christmas brings to mind trees dotted with twinkling fairy lights, hot toddies on cold nights, baked treats with warm spices, familiar carols wafting through the air, and merry spirits all around. To find all of these things together, head to one of Europe’s famous Christmas markets. Originally a German tradition, Christmas markets have spread throughout Europe, and most major cities have their own version.
Despite the common origins, every Christmas market has its own specialties and unique atmosphere. There are hundreds to choose from, so we whittled it down to a selection of three of the very best.
Treat yourself to a festive winter break this year and book a flight from Birmingham Airport to one of these Christmas markets today!
The largest and most popular markets are on the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Old Town Square Christmas market is located right in the centre of Old Town Square, sprawled around the Jan Hus Memorial in front of the Astronomical Clock. The huge, real tree is the centrepiece of the market and stands in front of the Church of Tyn where you can get some incredible photos. The tree is decorated beautifully with lights and really comes to life at night time, when you can see it in all its lit-up glory.
Located just a short walk from the markets in Old Town Square, the Prague Christmas market in Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) is another popular market. Popular food on offer includes: large hams roasted (Pražská Šunka); tasty barbequed sausages (klobása); Hungarian flatbread topped with garlic, cheese and ketchup (langoš); pancakes (palačinky); and a variety of sweets and cakes, such as hot sugar-coated pastry (trdelník) or spicy gingerbread.
Dates: Prague Christmas Markets will be open every day from 27th November 2021 to 6th January 2022, including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The main markets are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square (5 minutes walk from each other).
Take a short flight from Birmingham Airport with Jet2.com and enjoy the magic of Christmas in Prague.
The Christmas market in Vörösmarty Square is Budapest’s oldest and biggest Christmas market. Located in the city centre, this market has a reputation for being both lively and affordable. Unlike many other Christmas markets, Vörösmarty Square has strict rules requiring that all products have the official seal of approval from the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists, meaning that the level of quality is especially high. Handmade Christmas ornaments, fragrant pomander balls of orange and clove, woollen hats and gloves, sheepskin coats, and colourful leather bags are all sold here. Free concerts fill the square with music and folk storytelling, completing the festive atmosphere.
For a smaller, lesser known market, visit the Advent Fair in Óbuda where you will find lots of locals but few tourists. This neighbourhood has beautiful cobblestone streets and renovated baroque buildings, giving it a charming small-town feel. The whole community comes together for the Christmas market, with an illuminated outdoor ice rink, a children’s petting zoo and a whole range of handcrafted goods.
The typical Christmas market food is abundantly present – mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, grilled meats. But don’t limit yourself; try some of the delicious local fare, such as töki pompos, a savoury-topped bread. For a sweet treat, taste the chimney cake (kürtőskalács), a caramel-crusted pastry rolled in walnuts, cinnamon or coconut. Or get the special Christmas sweets – beigli, a poppy seed or walnut roll, and szaloncukor, a chocolate-covered fondant wrapped in foil that doubles as a Christmas tree decoration.
Dates: Advent and Christmas Market in Vörösmarty Square, 19 November - 31 December 2021
Fly from Birmingham Airport to Budapest with Wizz Air or Jet2.com this winter.
Photo: Mark Mervai