Leah Driscoll inspires some seriously festive wanderlust.
With chalets stocked full of gluhwein and enormous snow-dusted pine trees, the cities of Europe host the Christmas season better than any other continent can. There are countless stunning markets to choose from, but this list may inspire you to book a last-minute festive getaway.
Vienna contains one of the best-known and most-visited Christmas markets in the world, and for good reason. The main market is enhanced by the stunning backdrop of the Schönbrunn palace, but should you grow tired of the rush of the main area, you can stroll to any of the other nine markets nearby, where tasting some Viennese cookies and a cheeky cup of gluhwein are absolute musts.
Strasbourg may be France’s oldest Christmas market, but that doesn’t mean that it has nothing left to offer. Voted “Best European Christmas Market” for the second time in a row in 2015, the Alsatian capital offers eleven different markets to choose from, which spread throughout the Old Town. If you’re looking to work off the Bredele cookies you will inevitably gorge on, an ice rink is placed at the foot of the main cathedral, meaning you can skate the evening away once you have sufficiently stocked up on Christmas treats.
When looking for a market steeped in German tradition, but without the chaos of busy Cologne or Berlin, look no further than Nuremberg. The Bavarian city’s market has been described as fairytale- like, and one quick glance at its photos is enough to prove that claim to be true.
A bite of the famous Lebkuchen is as essential to warm you as you watch the opening ‘Kristkind’ ceremony- the most important tradition of the market. Seeing as the market opened on November 27th, it seems we may have missed the boat on this one, but it’s always an option for Christmas 2016.
Yes, France makes the list again, this time thanks to the Northern charm of Lille’s Christmas market. Located in between Paris and Brussels, the city contains a unique blend of both French and Flemish tradition. Between the spectacular Ferris wheel set in the main square, and the quaint chalets selling pastries and local crafts, Lille wears Christmas as well as St. Nicholas wears the colour red.
It seems that Ireland is about to truly earn its place among the best European markets, with 2015 welcoming Dublin’s first “I Believe” Christmas village. The centrepiece of the festival will be the 50ft “Rockefeller-style” Christmas tree, which is set to attract huge numbers of visitors over the next month.
You can expect all of the traditional Christmas market favourites, as well as an “Après-Ski pop- up bar” and what is being described as a careful selection of the nation’s leading food, drink and craft products. The festival is set up in Custom House Quarter -which includes George’s Dock, The chq Building and its surrounding area- and runs until the 23rd of December.
With so many tempting options, it seems that Santa won’t be the only one doing a lot of travelling this December.