In the weeks leading up to Christmas, many cities around the world follow in the centuries-old tradition of setting up Christmas markets. Often located in the city centres, these markets are truly magical, especially at night, when the Christmas tree is lit up and people come together to enjoy mulled wine and hearty food or to buy Christmas decorations and presents. Here are some of the enchanting and unique markets that capture the spirit of Christmas exceptionally well.
Bath Christmas Market, Bath, UK
Until December 11
Bath, located in Somerset, England is famous for its Roman Baths, Georgian architecture and unique cultural heritage like the Stonehenge. Every year in December, the city centre – surrounding the famous Bath Abbey – is transformed into a Christmas paradise, shrouded in the wonderful smell of minced pie and mulled wine.
The market makers, handpicked by the organizers, offer unique products in more than 170 chalets, ranging from glass jewellery and scented candles to marble coasters, wooden toys and rattan baskets. 85% of the stallholders come from Bath and the surrounding region, and almost all of their products are handmade.
Adding to the festive atmosphere is an entertainment programme that includes performances by the Natural Theatre Company and appearances by Ice Prince and Princess. A selection of university choirs, performing art students from local colleges and students from Norland College will sing Christmas carols.
Velvet Cave, Limburg, the Netherlands
Until December 23
The rich history of the Middle Ages comes alive again in the Castle Ruins in Valkenburg, a small Dutch town near the German border. The Netherlands’ only hilltop castle consists of different quarters waiting to be explored, from the dungeon to the old chapel and the Velvet Cave, a network of passageways beneath the Castle Ruins, carved out of its cliffs back in the 12th century. In this labyrinth of passageways – which were only discovered in the 1930s – a Christmas market is held each year, attracting throngs of visitors due to its unique setup: the atmospheric Christmas decorations, the beautiful 18th century chapel and carvings, etchings and wall paintings dating back to Roman times make a visit to the Castle Ruins in Valkenburg truly memorable.
And if that wasn’t reason enough to wander through the Velvet Cave, soaking up the Christmas spirit, come here to escape the cold and warm up: the temperature in the cave is 12 degrees all year long.
Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg, Germany
Until December 24
One of the most famous Christmas markets in the world, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt attracts more than 2 million visitors annually. Every year, the Nuremberg Christkind – chosen every two years – officially opens the market by reciting a monologue from the gallery of the Church of Our Lady.
The Christkindlesmarkt is famous for its mouthwatering sausages and Lebkuchen (gingerbread) that comes in every imaginable shape and size, as well as the Zwetschgenmännle – figurines made of prune that have been sold at the Christkindlesmarkt for decades. There are hundreds of different figurines to choose from, from football players to chimney sweeps, kissing couples and piano players.
The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt also includes the Christmas Market for Sister Cities. After World War II, the city of Nuremberg reached out to cities all over the world, striving to encourage international understanding and unity. The Christmas Market for Sister Cities offers a wide range of unique crafts and arts from Nuremberg’s sister cities, among others Antalya (Turkey), Atlanta (USA), Glasgow (Scotland), San Carlos (Nicaragua), Shenzhen (China) and Verona (Italy).
Christmas in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
Until December 31
One of the oldest operating amusement parks in the world, Tivoli Gardens has been a point of attraction in Copenhagen since its opening in 1843. Every year, Tivoli Gardens hosts a Christmas Market; it is a tradition amongst the people of Copenhagen to visit Tivoli Gardens with their families and friends to get into the festive Christmas mood. Children will love the Christmas at Tivoli for its Christmas rides; they can even meet Santa Claus at the Peacock Theatre. In the H.C. Andersen Castle, the Honey Cake Castle has been set up – a workshop with a honey cake-making machine, run by elves.
Visitors can decorate their own honey cakes and take them home. The Christmas lightshow featuring more than 16000 lights will surely brighten up your day.
Christmas Market in the Old Town Square, Prague, Czech Republic
Until January 1
The Christmas Market in the Old Town Square in Prague consists of beautifully decorated wooden huts selling handicrafts, from glassware and ceramics to puppets and dolls dressed in traditional costumes.
Visitors can witness how traditional food is being made and instantly have a bite: large hams roasted on spits, barbequed sausages, or for those with a sweet tooth, there are plenty of cakes and pastries as well.
The Christmas Market also features animal stables for children, where they can play with sheep, goats and a monkey. In another wooden stable, the nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and the Three Kings is depicted.