Forgive us for turning your thoughts to Christmas in July, but if you’re thinking about spending some time at one (or some) of Europe’s magical Christmas markets this December, now is the time to start planning.
During the festive season, thousands of charming stalls litter the streets of towns, villages and cities from Reykjavik to Rome. But with only a short time to enjoy them, there’s a need to make the most of your visit in every way possible. So, with that in mind, here are some great tips to enjoy your chosen European Christmas market like a pro.
Research Your Options
Most smaller destinations will only have one Christmas market, but large cities could host double figures. I little bit of research before you travel will help you establish just how many there are, where they are situated in the city and which ones you would prefer to visit first.
You may be excited by the theme of a certain market (angel, blue, Nordic) or the types of things on offer at the stalls could be exactly what you’re looking for (regional handicrafts, food, handmade decorations). Knowing about the differences between each of the markets will mean you can head straight to those you like you sound of without wasting any time.
Become A Mug Collector
There are some great souvenirs that you can buy from Christmas markets, but one of the best ways to commemorate your trip is to collect various different mugs. Wherever you go, you’ll find stalls selling glasses of glühwein (also known as vin chaud and gløgg around the continent), hot chocolate or Eierpunsch (warm eggnog) and the mugs in which these are served are ideal mementoes.
Each mug has its own design, but most will have the name of the destination and the year written on them. Some are shaped like boots, others like traditional mugs and some are even tall like highball glasses. When you pay for your drink, you will also be charged a small deposit fee for the mug. Return the mug and you’ll get this back, otherwise, it’s a small price to pay for a fitting souvenir.
Visit Nearby Towns
Because most towns and cities will have a Christmas market, it’s worth seeing how easy it would be to visit some of the destinations surrounding where you are staying. For example, a few nights in Nuremberg would mean that you could be in Bamberg in half an hour, Regensburg in under an hour and also hop over to the enchanting town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in around two hours.
Not only will it feel like you’ve made more of your holiday, but you will also be able to see the diversity of products and food available. Different regions showcase different wares, so you may even get some unique gift ideas by spreading your net further afield.
Plan Your Trip To Coincide With An Event
Copyright Regensburg Tourismus
A great way to enhance your trip is to arrive in time to see a particular event that’s happening at your chosen Christmas market. As well as the daily stalls, there will be so much more going on, including carol singing, parades and traditional ceremonies.
One event that takes place across much of Europe is the celebration of St. Nicolas Day on 6th December. In some countries, this is regarded as being more important than Christmas Day and so there is usually plenty happening. Some markets receive a personal visit from the man himself, whilst others host Santa parades where everyone dresses like him and walks through the streets.
Other unmissable events include the opening of the market in Nuremberg, when the Christkind gets proceedings underway, and the famous Regensburger Domspatzen (cathedral choir) hosting Christmas carol concerts.
Eat Your Meals From The Market
For many people, the best thing about visiting the European Christmas markets is the food. With so much on offer, from local delicacies to international favourites, you’ll be seduced by a range of different smells wafting your way as you wander through the streets. But, with so much delicious food available, how can you make sure you try as much as possible?
The answer is to eat solely at the Christmas markets, planning your meals around some of the particular dishes that catch your eye. A giant pretzel for lunch? Why not? A foot-long bockwurst for dinner? Yes, please. A Belgian waffle for dessert? Don’t mind if we do.
If you would like to start planning your festive trip to one of Europe’s Christmas markets this winter, you can call the team on 0800 988 3369. Or, sign up to our mailing list to be amongst the first to know when our new winter brochure becomes available.