Nothing sets the holiday mood quite like a Christmas market. Every year, vendors around the world gather to peddle decorations, sweet treats and stocking stuffers to locals and tourists alike. Those looking to purchase gifts for friends and family will find no shortage of handmade goods. Many markets also feature kid-friendly activities, including ice skating rinks and photo ops with Saint Nick himself.
Ahead, 15 festive Christmas markets that can’t be missed.
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Dating back all the way to the 1200s, Vienna’s Christmas market is by far one of the most traditional. Set beneath the stunning scenery of the city’s historic rathaus, snack on gingerbread and shop more than 100 vendors from late November through Christmas Day.
The Edinburgh Winter Festival, open from late November through the first week of January, is chock-full of stalls for shopping handmade goods, gifts and tasty treats. Take a spin on the fair’s ferris wheel or enjoy other rides including a Helter Skelter slide and the Starflyer swing.
With more than 100 kiosks to browse, visitors to Bryant Park’s Winter Village can shop a huge selection of goods, including apparel, decorations, jewelry and artwork. Open from October to January, the expansive market also features an outdoor ice skating rink.
Hong Kong’s waterfront WinterFest features plenty of holiday cheers. Stop by between late November and early January to catch a glimpse of colorful Christmas lights, watch musical performances and meet Santa Claus.
Vancouver’s version of the traditional European Christmas market occurs from late November until Christmas Eve. Adults can sample German and Austrian beers, while children are sure to revel in activities like the lantern parade and a holiday-themed carousel.
Winter visitors to Cusco will enjoy more than snow-capped mountain scenery and ancient Incan sites. Santurantikuy, the city’s annual holiday market, has taken place every Christmas Eve since the 16th century. The festive fair is best known for its selection of hand-carved figurines.
One of the largest holiday markets in Switzerland is Basel’s Christmas Market. Open from late November to Christmas Eve, the annual bazaar features nearly 200 booths boasting baubles, gingerbread and Feuerzangenbowle (rum) punch.
Millions of visitors flock to Germany’s “cathedral city” each year to attend its local Christmas markets. While there are several scattered across Cologne, perhaps the most scenic is set beneath its famous Gothic church — the largest in Northern Europe.
Taking place from November to January, Brussels’ Winter Wonders spans the entire city center. Sip on hot cocoa and peruse the more than 200 stalls, or check out attractions including the market’s ferris wheel and multiple merry-go-rounds.
Zagreb’s Advent is considered one of the best Christmas markets in Europe for a reason. Enjoy numerous attractions including ice skating, live musical performances and pop-up bars. Take the Jolly Christmas Tram to travel the market’s expansive grounds.
Since 1786, the Fira de Santa Llúcia has enchanted Barcelona with holiday goods, Nativity scenes and Christmas carolers. Today, the fair lasts nearly three weeks and boasts hundreds of food and craft vendors.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is a holiday market that will transport visitors back to Victorian England. This one-of-a-kind immersive experience, taking place in Brisbane, California, just south of San Francisco, features costumed performers, British pubs and boutiques selling everything from vintage goods to mulled wine.
The oldest holiday market in Budapest is the Christmas Fair and Winter Festival. The facade of the picturesque Gerbeaud Cafe is transformed into a giant advent calendar, and visitors can enjoy light shows, folk dances and obviously, plenty of shopping.
Skansen, the world’s largest open-air museum, is also home to one of Sweden’s most famous Christmas markets. Dating back to 1903, the annual fair features a wide selection of native goods including sausages, spices and handmade candles.
Many Christmas markets take place in Berlin each year, but the WeihnachtsZauber at Gendarmenmarkt is considered one of the best. Open from late November to New Year’s Eve, venture to the fair’s numerous wooden huts to shop handicrafts like wood carvings and paintings.
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