Europe’s Christmas fairs are the perfect place to get into the spirit of the winter holidays. The sweet aroma of mulled wine, the festive atmosphere, and the echo of carols bring a special charm to these fairs. In addition, buying gifts for your loved ones should be a pleasure, not a constant rush through crowded shops. That’s why Christmas fairs are a fun alternative – you can combine shopping with a short trip around Europe.
1. Strasbourg Christmas Fair, France
Strasbourg, located in the east of France, is home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, the first edition taking place in 1570. Today, there are 10 locations with over 300 stalls, which means a wide variety of gifts. You can enjoy the end-of-year festivities, choose special decorations and gifts, and indulge in a delicious local Alsatian wine.
Visitors to the Strasbourg fair have the opportunity to stroll leisurely through the city’s narrow alleys. If you come here, don’t forget to go to Place Kleber, where you will find the Great Christmas Tree. In addition, Strasbourg is located on the border with Germany, so you can enjoy a multi-cultural experience.
2. Christmas Fair in Vienna, Austria
With around 151 stalls serving everything from traditional drinks to classic Austrian sausages, the fair offers a lot. There is a huge ice rink for lovers of this winter sport, reindeer rides for children, and the scene of the birth of the Lord. The event usually takes place between November 16th and December 24th, but it may differ from one year to another.
3. Christmas Fair in Prague, Czech Republic
No city lends the festive atmosphere of Christmas better than Prague. The two main Christmas markets, Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are just a five-minute walk away, so both can be easily explored in one day.
At the fair, you will find the usual European wooden houses, but the traditional Czech dishes are what make this fair a special place. Here you can enjoy klobása (traditional sausage) and a local beer.
4. Santa Croce Christmas Market, Florence, Italy
The annual Christmas fair in Florence takes place until December 20th in the spectacular Piazza Santa Croce. The Franciscan Basilica providing a beautiful backdrop for the 50 stalls, is the perfect place for shopping and traditional delicacies.
To get into the festive spirit, it is recommended to visit Piazza del Duomo. There you will be able to admire the scene of the Nativity and the Christmas tree, which is lit on December 8th. Although it is a typical Italian event, there are also some German elements. Don’t miss the gingerbread and the delicious strudels.
5. Krakow Christmas Fair, Poland
If you are dreaming of an immaculate white Christmas, Krakow is a perfect choice. The Christmas fair takes place in Rynek Glowny, the city’s huge main square, every year. It snows a lot here in December, and the fair becomes an enchanting place that captures the bright image of a harmonious Christmas. Hand-painted decorations are a local specialty, as are seasoned nuts and boiled candies. The Krakow Christmas Fair takes place between November 29th and January 7th.
6. Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens is a great destination all year round. In December, however, this market becomes a magical place that has a lot to offer visitors. In addition to the usual booths that sell Christmas decorations, there are three different light shows in the park and a traditional band that sings carols.
The annual Lucia holiday takes place on December 13th, when 100 girls walk through the gardens with candles and sing to mark St. Lucia’s Day. The Christmas Fair in the Tivoli Gardens usually takes place between November 16th and January 5th. Don’t miss the grandiose fireworks show between December 25th and 26th and again on December 31st.
7. Gendarmenmarkt Fair in Berlin, Germany
Berlin is an extremely popular destination during the winter holidays due to its numerous fairs. At the Gendarmenmarkt, the imposing architecture of the Deutscher Dom and Französischer Dom buildings rises above the classic wooden stalls. Here, visitors can enjoy delicious sausages and a glass of mulled wine before shopping.
You can find everything from original paintings to beautiful wooden sculptures at the craft stands. In the evening, don’t miss the jazz concerts and carol choirs.
8. Winter Wonders Fair, Brussels, Belgium
Winter Wonders in Brussels is more of a festival than a Christmas fair. Here you will find over 200 wooden stalls serving mulled wine, Belgian beers, chocolate, and delicious wafers.
The event takes place in the Bourse, Place de la Monnaie, Grand Place, Place Sainte Catherine and Marche aux Poissons areas. At Winter Wonders, you enjoy ice skating, a carousel wheel, light shows, and, of course, a huge Christmas tree.
The fair usually runs from November 29th to January 5th. There are guided tours in English for those who don’t know where to start. Just make sure you warm up with some hot chocolate first.
9. Christmas Fair and Winter Festival in Budapest, Hungary
The Budapest Winter Festival take place in the Vörösmarty Square in the city center from early November to the end of December. It is the oldest and most popular Christmas market in the Hungarian capital.
You can buy everything from Christmas-themed gifts to traditional Hungarian food and mulled wine from the 100 stalls. You can also enjoy light shows, folk dances and live music. In addition, the exterior of the famous Gerbeaud Café in Vörösmarty Square is transformed into a gigantic calendar, which counts the days left until the Christmas holiday.
10. Sibiu Christmas Fair, Romania
Sibiu holds a wonderful event called the Christmas Fair. It takes place in the Grand Square and features some of Romania’s most magnificent illumination and decorations. It’s like something out of a fairy tale. Aside from dozens of wooden homes where you can purchase all types of foreign and Romanian Christmas treats, there’s also a skating rink and plenty of fun things for kids like a carousel and a miniature train.
Walking around the Grand Square’s wooden homes, you can’t help but purchase lollipops, jelly, peanut praline, praline berries, and anything else with too much sugar. The mood is warm and welcoming, with everyone smiling and sipping mulled wine to keep warm.