It’s never too early to start the Christmas countdown. If you’re crazy for all things festive, you’ll love these magical Christmas markets around the world. Whether you’re into local crafts, hand-decorated baubles, festive treats or just having fun, there’s a market for you.
From Europe to the USA, here are our top picks…
Austria’s capital city is one of the best places in Europe to celebrate Christmas, and over the festive period, the city centre is basically just one big Christmas market. Vienna’s most popular Christmas market, aptly named Christmas World, is right in front of the City Hall. The whole area is turned into a sparkling fairy-tale wonderland every year, and there are decorations and gifts to buy as well as mulled wine, hot chestnuts and Viennese treats like sachertorte. There’s also a special Christmas workshop for kids where they can learn to bake cookies and meet Father Christmas himself.
Red Route, Stop: Rathaus / City Hall
If you just don’t feel festive without a Christmas tree, head to the Schönbrunn Palace where there’s a giant one in the middle of its market. 60 stalls offer crafts and food, and there are concerts and live performances to keep you entertained too.
Blue Route, Stop: Schönbrunn Palace
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When we say Christmas in New York, you probably think ice skating in Central Park, the Rockefeller Christmas tree, and the setting of Elf and Home Alone 2. All of these are reason enough to visit New York over the festive season, but the city does line up a few of its own Christmas markets too. There’s the Bryant Park Winter Village full of European-inspired gift stalls, food stands selling everything from cookie dough to cheesesteaks, and an ice rink.
Explore Downtown Route, Stop: Bryant Park
Or, if you fancy staying out of the cold, head to the Grand Central Holiday Fair to browse the handmade crafts, clothes and locally-made goods. This fair is selective about its exhibitors so you’ll find unique gifts and high quality crafts here. Plus, it’s next to some of New York’s best sights – including the Empire State Building – so you can tick off your sightseeing and shopping at the same time.
Explore Uptown Route, Stop: Grand Central Terminal
Head to San Francisco over Christmas to step back in time and get a taste of Victorian London right in the heart of the city. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair gives you the chance to experience Dickens’ London while shopping for those handmade gifts and decorations. Stroll along the winding lanes and you’ll come across quaint lamp-lit shops, stalls selling roasted chestnuts, and colourful characters in traditional Victorian costume. There are pubs and dance halls to duck into when you need a break from all that shopping, and literary-themed performances on stages throughout the venue too.
The UK is awash with Christmas markets from Bath to Birmingham and right up to Edinburgh. In London alone there are several to choose from, open from November to January. There’s the Nordic-inspired Southbank Centre Wintertime Market where you can browse stalls and enjoy pop-up performances right on the riverfront. And the eccentric Christmas festival, Winterville, in Clapham Common which lines up vintage Christmas market stalls and every kind of entertainment from cabaret to karaoke nights.
The biggest one in London is Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. This festive extravaganza boasts over 200 Bavarian-style chalets filled with unique gifts, a German-style beer tent, rides and attractions, and an ice rink. Block out a full day to explore this one.
Red Tour, Stop: Marble Arch
Paris lines up some magical Marchés de Noël right next to its famous sights. So you can explore the city’s best landmarks while picking up those Parisian Christmas treats. There’s the Quai Branly market, right at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, with stalls selling Christmas ornaments and an ice rink. You’ve also a market next to the Notre Dame, which brings together unique local handicrafts, sculptures, homemade decorations and entertainers. And, the biggest one is the market on the Champs Elysées which lines up over 200 stalls in sparkling white huts. They’re filled with gifts and souvenirs to browse, and the market stretches all along the street right up to the Arc de Triomphe.
Classic Route – Red, Stop: Champs-Elysées
Feeling festive now? Start planning your trip to these Christmas markets today. And browse our bus routes and attractions in each city for inspiration on how to fill the rest of your itinerary.