Christmas shopping doesn’t have to mean joylessly battling through department store crowds or trawling the Internet for bargains. Why not combine present-buying with some travel?
These 10 Christmas markets scattered around the world make great destinations for traditional gifts, glasses of glühwein and that unbeatable festive feeling.
1. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg, in eastern France, is home to one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets, with the first edition taking place in 1570.
Few cities steep themselves in the festive spirit like Vienna. The Austrian capital’s first Christmas Market was held in 1298 and today the city has more than 20 events to choose from.
Running from December 1 to 24 in the pedestrian thoroughfare of Ste Catherine Street, it has more than 60 wooden houses plying their wares, from warming winter drinks to essential Christmas handicrafts.
The city’s two main Christmas markets, in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, are only five minutes’ walk from each other, so can both easily be explored in one day. Each one has the usual wooden huts found in similar markets across Europe, but the Czech treats are what really set them apart.
With the Franciscan Basilica providing a backdrop for the 50 stalls, this is the perfect place to pick up stocking fillers and treats without the unerring sense of dread that accompanies the average shopping street in the run-up to December 25.
The city’s Christmas market, held in Rynek Glowny, the city’s huge main square, typically gets a heavy dusting of snow during December, making a visit here even more magical than some of the big-name markets in western Europe.
Held in Victoria Square from November 15 to December 23, Birmingham emulates its continental rivals with over 120 stalls selling everything from jewelry to handmade toys.
Copenhagen’s Tivoli, with its fairground rides and warren of shops and stalls, is a year-round destination in its own right. But it’s during December that this Danish institution really comes into its own. Christmas in Tivoli Gardens 2018 runs from November 17 to December 31.
The imposing architecture of the Deutscher Dom and Französischer Dom loom over classic wooden huts where visitors can steel themselves before shopping with delicious sausages and warming cups of mulled wine.
Brussels’s Winter Wonders is more of a festival than a Christmas Market, although there’s more than 200 chalets serving up festive fixes of glühwein, Belgian beers and waffles. The event is spread out across the Bourse, Place de la Monnaie, Grand Place, Place Sainte Catherine and Marche aux Poissons, with ice skating, a Ferris wheel, light shows and, of course, a huge Christmas tree.