From Strasbourg to Zurich via Brussels, a selection of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe.
1. Strasbourg (France)
The Strasbourg Christmas market, the famous Christkindelsmärik or "market of the baby Jesus" (in Alsatian dialect) is one of Europe’s oldest, dating back to 1570, around the same time as more famous German markets such as Dresden and Nuremberg. In the Middle Ages, a market was organised in Strasbourg for 6 December to celebrate the feast of Saint Nicolas. Each year, a village is reserved for a guest country which shows its charms with traditional dishes.
Information: Strasbourg, capital of Christmas
2. Dresden (Germany)
Welcome to Germany, THE land of the Christmas markets. Among the dozen or so most noteworthy markets (Bremen, Heidelberg, Lübeck and Stuttgart), make sure you visit the oldest in Dresden which dates back to 1434. The market’s name Streizelmarkt derives from the word Strietzel, the local version of stollen, the traditional German cake with dried and candied fruit and stuffed with marzipan. By contrast, historically, the first market on the Altmarkt was devoted to… meat! Festivities begin with the setting in motion of the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid (Weihnachtspyramide), 14 metres high, and the cutting of a giant stollen. Christmas in Dresden is a chance to attend a succession of festive events including several Christmas-themed music concerts.
Information: Dresden Tourist Office
3. Brussels (Belgium)
One of the most recent additions to the winter markets, Brussels Winter Wonders is now established as a benchmark in Europe. The format is simple: for five weeks, 240 wooden chalets transform the centre of Brussels, from Place Saint-Catherine to Place de la Monnaie via the Grand’Place, into a giant winter village, where a succession of flamboyant events takes place, notably the mapping of monuments that transforms building fascades into a colourful spectacle.
Informations : Winter Fun
4. Valkenburg/Fauquemont (Netherlands)
Located in Limbourg around twenty kilometres west of Aix-la-Chapelle, Valkenburg is a pretty city in the Netherlands with castle remains and caves carved into the marlstone. Caves such as Gemeentegrot (municiapl cave) and Fluweelengrot (velvet cave) house most of the Christmas stalls in this lively town which organises a parade, choir concerts and other festivities.
Information: Christmas village of Valkenburg
©DR / Valkenburg
5. Zurich (Switzerland)
As Advent begins, Swiss villages launch their own Christkindlimarkt ("Baby Jesus Market" in German-speaking Switzerland). The Zurich Christmas market is held at the station. Within its main concourse, which houses a hanging sculpture by Niki de Saint-Phalle, 150 stands are set up around a 15 metre fir tree decorated with Swarovski crystals. Taking full advantage of the enchanting old town setting
Information: Zurich Christmas market