Christmas fairs in Europe that you absolutely must get to!


Unmissable Christmas Fairs!

Across Europe, the start of the winter season is signalled by the arrival of Christmas fairs. Cities are transformed into winter wonderlands, with strings of lights illuminating every street and finely decorated trees standing on every corner.

Spicy, savoury notes float through the air, while cosy wooden cottages, filled to the brim with festive finds and spectacular delights, populate the snow-filled town squares. It's a sight straight from the pages of a storybook and a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages.

Christmas tourism is already another tradition that is emerging among the lovers of the gift-giving season.

Helsinki Christmas Fair

This Christmas fair welcomes over 300,000 people each year to discover the over 120 huts and attractions that decorate the city's Senate Square. You'll of course find traditional market stalls and mulled wine around every corner, but the market also attracts a more modern crowd, with countless vegan options and even a wood-fired sauna. After picking up a few handcrafted wooden lanterns, take a spin on the old-fashioned carousel next to the Christmas phallic tree.

Christmas Fair in Sibiu

You may never find a city with such a merry Christmas spirit as the old Transylvanian city of Sibiu. The colourful market takes place in the heart of the city, in the Piata Mare, which happens to be surrounded by breathtaking displays of Baroque architecture. Traders sell a wonderful range of jewellery, handcrafted ornaments and delicious traditional food, but keep an eye out for stalls selling unique leather goods. Oh, did I mention there's an ice rink right in the fair?

Fair Christmas in Strasbourg, France

Twinkling lights illuminating the narrow alleys, a magnificent tree lining the city centre and almost 300 wooden chalets lining the square make Strasbourg the Christmas capital of France. One of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, the year-end festivities have embraced the traditions and flavours of an Alsatian Christmas since 1570.

Guests can explore stalls for hand-blown glass ornaments and carved wooden toys and enjoy spicy gingerbread cookies and Alsatian wine. The market also hosts a gift village that allows people to donate to local nonprofits and charities.

Christmas Fair in Vienna

The first Christmas fair in Vienna dates back to the Middle Ages, when Albrecht I of Habsburg allowed the citizens of the Austrian capital to hold an event in December 1298. Centuries later, Vienna still hosts impressive Christmas markets, but none quite as charming. as the Vienna Christmas Dream. The fair, which takes place in front of City Hall, has over 150 stalls selling roasted chestnuts and every Christmas decoration imaginable. Children can even learn how to make Christmas cookies and candles on the ground floor of the Town Hall and take a ride with a real reindeer.

Fair Christmas in Zagreb

Considered one of the best destinations for the Christmas fair, Advent Zagreb puts the Croatian capital in the spotlight. The fountain that functions as a light display and a phallic Christmas tree in Jelacic Square act as the centrepiece of the festival and a cosy meeting place for guests.

Candles and lanterns cast a glow on the surrounding tree-lined streets and lead to an ice rink, ice sculptures, pop-up bars, street food stalls and music stages. Advent even organizes a dedicated gastronomic event called "prosteala", where people can enjoy various mulled wines while dancing in the street.

Prague Christmas Fair

With stalls set among bold examples of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the squares of Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square feel like exploring Prague's history as you celebrate the holidays with themed performances and handmade trinkets. At a simple stroll, visitors can warm up while exploring both festive locations with Czech delicacies such as trdelník, a cake rolled in cinnamon sugar and boiled wine with citrus flavors.

Tclay Christmas in Madrid

In the heart of Madrid, the Plaza Mayor stands as a reminder of Spain's royal past and is the site of one of the country's most celebrated traditions: the acclaimed Christmas fair. Unique collections of hand-painted and hand-decorated nativity figurines and musical instruments flood the nearly 100 stalls with specific ornaments as well as exquisite food from the square.

Tclay Christmas in Trento, Italy

Set at the foot of the snow-covered Brenta Dolomites, Piazza Fiera and Piazza Cesare Battisti in Trento become a picturesque "Città del Natale" or Christmas town, with glittering trees, thousands of golden lights and 90 wooden huts. Vendors sell sheep's cheese, sweet panettone, carved wooden nativity scenes and glass ornaments. With its commitment to environmental sustainability, the Trento Christmas Fair uses only clean energy and uses local products and eco-certified paper bags.

While many beloved markets have chosen not to open in 2020, many historic European markets are returning this holiday season with safety measures in place to ensure guests can enjoy themselves while practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Be sure to check each market's website for safety protocols before visiting.

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