All over Europe you’ll find festive Christmas markets famed for their attractive stalls and vibrant atmosphere. And along with the sights and sounds of seasonal cheer, come the smells and tastes as vendors offer warming snacks like hot roasted chestnuts and mince pies, perhaps sampled with a touch of spice in some mulled wine. Holiday cheer is spreading fast and with the Christmas trees and sparkling lights approaching, it's hard to ignore this extravaganza!
There’s still enough time to plan a weekend visit to Europe for a Christmas market - you could be in central Paris or Brussels within about 2 hours and have the answer to any gift problems shortly after!
The Flexicover Team looks at some markets that would make for a wonderful experience and great festive break away!
The Striezelmarkt in Dresden is Germany’s oldest fair, dating back to 1434. Located in the historic city centre in Altmarkt Square, the whole area is filled with themed stalls and this year will open from 27th November right up until Christmas Eve. With charming toys and decorations supplied from the Erzgebirge region (near the Czech border), hand-made gifts are specialities here. Indigo textiles, filigree lace, blown glass and traditional baked goods are all on offer. There’s a huge variety, all of which makes for a splendid weekend away!
St Gallen, Switzerland
This wonderful Christmas market attracts visitors from all over the world with carol singing and advent concerts creating a marvellous atmosphere. Throughout the old town, 700 stars glisten above the streets and thousands of lights on Switzerland’s tallest Christmas tree add to the magic. Enjoy the scent of almonds while trying the local Biberli (a gingerbread & marzipan treat in an array of shapes) and for a savoury experience, indulge in Raclette, melted Swiss cheese and bread. And after the shopping, pop into a Beizli (“little pub”) for a mug of Feuerzangenbowle (wine and rum fire punch) as a suitable finale!
From 15th of November to 6th January, mountainous Innsbruck comes alive with decorations and Christmas markets. You may even fulfil your whole shopping list here - from toys to delicate ornaments and wonderful festive specialities to hand-blown glass items. Take the whole family and join in the fun as trumpeters play carols on the 500 year old golden roof! Ride the funicular railway up the mountain to Hungerburg or head to the top of the Hafelekar for stunning views of the snow-tipped peaks. You can also enjoy an indulgent snack of hot Advent doughnuts with cranberry sauce! The markets here will make for a wonderful, happy and memorable weekend away!
Although only starting in 2009, this newer market has quickly grown in size and popularity for its innovative celebrations that are rooted in the folklore of the region. The capital goes all out as the iconic Vilnius TV tower is turned into a 167m high fully-lit Christmas tree. With friendly market stalls selling great culinary treats including karstas vynas (mulled wine), raguolis (Lithuanian Xmas tree cake) or poppy seed cake plus gifts and handicrafts galore, all of which make ideal Christmas presents. Children will love visiting the ‘Old Man of Christmas’ who has a house in the centre of the market and adults will adore the overall splendour of the Lithuanian festivities!
First opened in 1570, this is one of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas fairs. Called Christkindelsmärik (“the market of the Infant Jesus”), this annual extravaganza held near Strasbourg Cathedral highlights the German heritage of this border region and specialises in hand-made decorations. It enjoys success year after year with its traditional, authentic and welcoming environment and 300 chalets each offering an array of culinary and artistic items for sale. And don’t miss out on seeing the beautiful Christmas tree on Place Kleber or trying the ice skating rink on Place du Château!
Wherever your travels take you this year and whichever Christmas market you are lucky enough to visit, we at Flexicover Team are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.