There’s something truly magical about a good Christmas market. The twinkle of fairy lights above the stalls; the feel of a mug of hot chocolate or a mince pie from a food cart; the hustle and bustle of people going about their Christmas shopping and soaking in the atmosphere.
It evokes a feeling you can’t really get at any other time of year or in any other place, and it really brings home the spirit of the season.
There is no shortage of fantastic Christmas markets to be found the world over. Although a good chunk is naturally found in Europe – the continent with the strongest Christmas tradition, that doesn’t mean they’re found exclusively there.
Let’s take a look at the 16 best Christmas markets around the world.
Table of Contents
- 1. Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg, Germany
- 2. Munich Christmas Market, Germany
- 3. Strasbourg Christmas Market
- 4. Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, Copenhagen, Denmark
- 5. Christkindlmarkt, Vienna, Austria
- 6. Bruges Christmas Market, Belgium
- 7. Winter Village at Bryant Park, New York, USA
- 8. Zagreb Christmas Market, Croatia
- 9. Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco, CA
- 10. Budapest Christmas Market, Hungary
- 11. London Christmas Markets, United Kingdom
- 12. German Christmas Market in Quebec City, Canada
- 13. Wenceslas and Old Town Squares Christmas Markets, Prague, Czech Republic
- 14. Distillery District Winter Village, Toronto, Canada
- 15. Malaga Christmas Market, Spain
- 16. Hibiya Park Christmas Market, Tokyo, Japan
1. Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg, Germany
The undisputed king of Christmas markets is back. Browse the illuminated market stalls while enjoying the very best of the local Christmas cuisine.
Look out for tasty German sausages and glug warming Glühwein (mulled wine), finishing it off with the regional specialty of Lebkuchen (German gingerbread).
Also, the so-called “Little City of Wooden Cloth” sits underneath Nuremberg Cathedral and quite simply has to be visited to be believed.
Explore the intricately carved wooden stands selling Christmas decorations, handmade toys, and intricate art. Listen to the festive music, shop for presents, and take in the delightful aromas of the delicacies being served.
There really is something for everyone at the Nuremberg Market. With such a wide array of activities, sights, and sounds to explore, you’d be missing out if you didn’t make a trip to Nuremberg this holiday season.
2023 Dates for Christkindlesmarkt: December 1 – December 24
2. Munich Christmas Market, Germany
Germany’s Christmas markets are often seen as the gold standard the world over, and this gorgeous Bavarian Christmas market is no exception.
The market has a rich and storied pedigree (it started in the 14th century!), and not only features plenty of stalls packed with potential Christmas gifts but also offers Bavarian craft and baking workshops.
Many believe that these workshops are the best way to really experience the feeling of the Christmas season – as if one has been transported back to an earlier time.
After spending a few hours in the market, it’s easy to understand why these Bavarian traditions have endured for centuries.
2023 Dates for the Munich Christmas Market: November 27 – December 24
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3. Strasbourg Christmas Market
Germany doesn’t have a monopoly on spectacular Christmas markets. Hop over the border to neighboring France where the whole of Strasbourg is alight with twinkling Christmas lights, and the market itself sits under the imposing steeple of the city’s cathedral.
Soak up the atmosphere of Strasbourg’s iconic festive marketplace, which traces its origins back to the 16th century, and enjoy the self-described “Capital of Christmas“.
Also, stroll between the forest of chalet stalls and enjoy local Alsatian specialties such as bredle biscuits!
In addition to traditional delicacies, visitors to Strasbourg’s Christmas Markets can also find a range of wooden Christmas gifts, handmade crafts, and other souvenirs.
There are numerous vendors offering beautiful ceramics, festive candles, and other decorations for the holiday season.
Be sure to take a closer look at one of the more traditional items for sale: wooden pyramids with tiers of candleholders, a German Christmas specialty.
2023 Dates for the Strasbourg Christmas Market: November 25 – December 24
4. Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, Copenhagen, Denmark
Tivoli Gardens at Christmastime looks like it was plucked straight from a fairytale.
Every surface in sight is fully bedecked in beautiful fairy lights, and in the evening, Christmas shoppers can enjoy the magnificent laser show over the surface of the lake.
In fact, Tivoli Gardens isn’t just a Christmas market. It’s also a Disneyland-style theme park with plenty to keep the kids occupied as you enjoy a warm glass of mulled wine.
The park’s rides and attractions offer something for everyone, from the most daring roller coaster to the slowest carousel. There’s even an old-fashioned Ferris wheel that lights up the night sky with its sparkling colors.
Shopping for traditional Christmas presents here is an absolute delight, with over 70 food and gift carts placed throughout the grounds.
You’ll also find a wide assortment of local handmade items and festive decorations to buy, like the famous wooden figures of trolls and gnomes.
2023 Dates for Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market: November 19 – December 31
5. Christkindlmarkt, Vienna, Austria
From the scent of freshly baked gingerbread and gluhwein to the glimmering of lights wrapped around the ancient cobblestone streets, the Vienna Christmas Markets offer a unique and breathtaking experience.
With its rich history, incredible architecture, and warm, friendly locals, Vienna is a spectacular destination to explore, especially in the winter.
And for those looking to do some authentic holiday shopping, the Vienna Markets provide a wonderful opportunity to buy handmade gifts and delicious treats, as well as to experience the beautiful build-up to the holiday season.
At the main Vienna Christmas Market, you can find anything from traditional handmade ornaments to delicious hot food stands, offering warm sausages and spiced mulled wine.
You’ll also find generous vendors selling hand-crafted gifts, such as honey-filled candies, wooden toys, scented candles, and decorated glassware.
Visiting Vienna during the holiday season is a great opportunity to find unique, one-of-a-kind items that make perfect, meaningful gifts for your loved ones.
The Vienna Christmas Markets are definitely a great way to indulge in a little Christmas magic.
2023 Dates for Christkindlmarkt Vienna: November 10 – December 26
6. Bruges Christmas Market, Belgium
The Christmas market in Bruges is one of the most beautiful in Belgium and the rest of Europe. It is located on the Grote Markt, in front of the magnificent City Hall.
Every Christmas, the market sets up a large ice rink where you can skate while taking in the sights and smells of this quaint Christmas market.
Also, there are lots of stalls set up around the square selling warm food and drinks, as well as unique gifts and souvenirs.
Apart from the many activities and treats, the real beauty of this market is in the unique items sold by the Christmas vendors.
From handcrafted wooden toys and decorations to organic chocolates and mulled wines – you can find something to buy to remember your experience.
There are also tasty treats like Belgian waffles and hot soups for you to enjoy and the scents of the spices fill the air.
Ultimately, this Christmas market is a great place to get into the holiday spirit and it’s a unique and wonderful experience that you’ll never forget.
2023 Dates for the Bruges Christmas Market: November 24 – January 7
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7. Winter Village at Bryant Park, New York, USA
Looking for a unique holiday experience? Come to NYC for the holidays! In the heart of Manhattan, Bryant Park is transformed into a magical winter wonderland each year.
With more than 170 artisanal vendors selling holiday gifts and goodies, an admission-free ice skating rink, and a pop-up rinkside bar and restaurant, the Winter Village is the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit.
Also, sample seasonal goodies from some of the best restaurants in the city or hop aboard the Ferris wheel to get a bird’s eye view of the holiday action.
There are plenty of entertaining performances to enjoy, including live music, theatrical shows, and weekly holiday films. Or just sit back and relax as the park is decorated in vibrant holiday light displays that never cease to amaze.
With so much to see and do, a visit to Bryant Park during the holidays will fill your soul with joy and festive cheer! From shopping and ice skating to festive displays and Christmas markets, the Winter Village has something for everyone.
2023 Dates for the Winter Village: October 27 – March 3
8. Zagreb Christmas Market, Croatia
Croatia is not necessarily the first destination many people would have in mind for one of the best Christmas markets in the world.
However, this Balkan jewel has much to recommend it. Croatia’s capital sports beautiful traditional buildings galore and almost guaranteed snowfall for that true festive feeling.
Walk around the iconic Jelacic Square and enjoy the ice sculptures, live music performances, and temporary bars with their wide selection of European beers. For the kids, there’s the “Jolly Christmas Tram” which will take them around to enjoy the festive sights.
The Christmas Market in Zagreb also features a vast array of traditional festive food delights. Freshly cooked pancakes, different types of roasted chestnuts, or the likes of goulash made with beef, pork, potatoes, and peas.
And of course, no Christmas Market in Europe would be complete without some mulled wine. So don’t forget to treat yourself to the sweet and spicy aroma of the delicious local mulled wine or a warm cup of Glühwein.
The atmosphere of winter holidays in Croatia will leave a lasting impression on anyone visiting the Christmas Markets.
The smell of gingerbread and roasted chestnuts from the street stands, Croatian Christmas songs from live musicians, and friendly locals create a festive experience that cannot be found elsewhere.
Whether you’re looking for unique gifts, traditional Croatian delicacies, or simply a great time out and about, a visit to the Zagreb Christmas Market should definitely be on the cards.
2023 Dates for the Zagreb Christmas Market: December 2 – January 7.
9. Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco, CA
Contrary to popular belief, Europe doesn’t hold a monopoly on Christmas markets. One of the USA’s finest Christmas fairs can be found in San Francisco and brings a touch of Dickensian whimsy to the iconoclastic West Coast city.
A 3-acre recreation of Dickens’ Victorian London is set up in the city, transporting shoppers back over a century ago as they stroll among the craft gifts and food stalls.
And no visit can be complete without trying their famous Christmas shortbread cookies, artisanal teas, and popular chocolate treats. Also, dress-up is very much encouraged!
As popular as this Christmas market is in San Francisco, many visitors describe it as a magically peaceful experience – a true festive retreat to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the season.
It’s the perfect opportunity to take a break from the constant hustle and bustle of day-to-day life and to immerse yourself in the spirit of Christmas.
2023 Dates for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair: (Weekends only) November 18 – December 17
10. Budapest Christmas Market, Hungary
Take a trip over to Hungary to sample their Magyar take on the Christmas market. Found in Vorosmarty Square, this traditional market is a blaze of light and Christmas carols amid the snowy Hungary winter.
Grab a big mug of mulled wine and browse the folk design and art stalls, while remembering to get some of the handmade Christmas gifts for the folks back home.
You could even buy some of the local pork crackling, biscuits, and cakes to really get in the festive spirit.
Then when you’ve finished your shopping, take a break in one of the wooden huts and keep warm with a cup of hot spiced punch as you people watch.
Finish your visit with a trip down the ice slide to the small ice rink which is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.
2022 Dates for Budapest Christmas Market: November 17 – December 31
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11. London Christmas Markets, United Kingdom
Christmas markets are a great way to get into the festive spirit, and London has some of the best in the UK.
If you’re looking for something a little different, why not try the Finnish Church Christmas Fair or the Borough Market at Christmas? London as a whole is a beautiful place to visit during the holiday season.
And the city is even more stunning when it’s lit up with displays of festive lights – from the iconic Oxford Street illuminations to the Trafalgar Square light show, there’s something for all the kids from 0 to 100 years old.
With so much to see, it’s easy to see why London is a hot spot for Christmas markets all throughout the festive season. Not to mention, many of these traditional markets have been running for years – a great opportunity to take part in a long-standing and cherished tradition.
2023 Dates for the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland: Nov. 17 – Jan. 1; London Southbank Winter Festival: Oct. 28 – Jan. 7
12. German Christmas Market in Quebec City, Canada
If Christmas lights, cobblestone streets, and lots of snow are your thing, then head over to Quebec City. The German Christmas Market is a magical place that comes to life in the heart of Old Québec, a few weeks before Christmas.
It is a must-see for anyone visiting during the holiday season! The market features a collection of 90 wooden vendor stands, twinkling Christmas lights, crackling fireplaces, and a festive atmosphere that will get you into the holiday spirit!
Also, you’ll find a wide variety of food and warm drink options, as well as plenty of unique gifts and souvenirs.
You’ll be able to sample holiday treats like maple taffy and listen to live Christmas carols as you explore the market.
There are also plenty of events and entertainment, such as parades and storytelling, that will bring the holiday season to life.
So, come and enjoy a delightful holiday experience and make memories that will last a lifetime!
2023 Dates for the Quebec City German Christmas Market: November 24 – December 24
13. Wenceslas and Old Town Squares Christmas Markets, Prague, Czech Republic
What’s more festive than a place named after the most Christmassy of kings, Wenceslas? The twin Christmas markets of Prague’s Old Town and Wenceslas Square create a veritable winter wonderland in the heart of the Czech capital.
Explore the colorful wooden huts packed with handmade gifts and scrumptious treats galore.
And no trip to Prague would be complete without sampling the local Christmas delicacies. Fill your belly with such delightful snacks as “Czech Pizza” (flatbread topped with garlic, cheese, and tomato sauce), klobása sausage, and dumplings both sweet and savory.
Also, the artisanal products on offer range from traditional wooden toys to handmade jewelry, Czech crystal, paper-cut art, and fragrant beeswax candles.
To top it all off, fill your ears with the sound of carollers singing classic Christmas songs and the scent of traditional gingerbread baking in the air – a true wintery delight.
Enjoy the festive atmosphere as you wander the narrow streets, explore the array of stalls, and discover unique gifts for your friends and family.
2023 Dates for the Prague Christmas Markets: December 2 – January 6
14. Distillery District Winter Village, Toronto, Canada
Formerly known as the “Toronto Christmas Market”, this festive Canadian event shows that it’s not only the Europeans who know how to put on a good Christmas market.
Due to the infamous Canadian cold, this market doesn’t have stalls but cabins, in which shoppers can peruse the vendors’ wares or simply enjoy a plate of hearty Christmas poutine.
With more than 65 cabins to explore, you’re unlikely to exhaust all of the possibilities offered by the Distillery District Winter Village!
Along with the traditional Christmas gifts — candles, pots, throws — you can find plenty of handmade art and crafts. There are also singers, live music, and a chance to meet Santa himself in his charmingly rustic Canadian cabin!
A food and drink area is also available, letting visitors warm up and enjoy this Christmas market’s delicacies.
Among the variety of treats available is the sweet smell of hot-off-the-grill Maple Taffy. The sweet syrup is hand-poured onto the snow and rolled up onto a stick, providing a delicious and distinctly Canadian treat.
2023 Dates for the Distillery District Winter Village: November 16 – December 31
15. Malaga Christmas Market, Spain
The Christmas market in Malaga is one of the biggest and most popular markets on the Costa del Sol. It’s located on the Parque de Malaga and features a variety of traditional Christmas lights, decorations, gifts, and food.
And speaking of food, no trip to Malaga can be complete without sampling their amazing local staples: olive oil, ham, cheese, honey, and wine.
Likewise, try some traditional Spanish holiday delicacies like marzipan, turron, cake, and borrachuelos (wine-flavored sweet pastries).
While at the Christmas market, join in the festive atmosphere created by the live entertainment and music. Enjoy the sounds of Spanish guitar music, flamenco bands, and other live performances as you stroll through the market and chat with local merchants.
Be sure to have your camera on hand too, as the colorful Christmas lights decorations and elaborate displays make for some spectacular photos.
When the market reaches its closing hour, wander the streets of Malaga and take in the Christmas magic in the air.
2023 Dates for the Malaga Christmas Market: November 25 – January 6
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16. Hibiya Park Christmas Market, Tokyo, Japan
Japan may not be the first place that springs to mind when thinking of Christmas markets, but this festive extravaganza in the Land of the Rising Sun proves that the East can do Christmas just as well as the West.
Beer gardens, stalls, and kiosks dot the iconic Hibiya Park in Tokyo, bringing a good dose of Western-style festiveness to the park’s distinctly Japanese aesthetic.
But it’s the unique and striking Christmas pyramid at the center of the Christmas market that really makes it stand out from the competition.
A 6.5-meter-tall wooden structure painted in vivid reds and blues, the pyramid has been a popular centerpiece for the many visitors who flock to the park around Christmas each year.
In the daylight, the pyramid is an arresting sight, but it’s when night falls that it really comes alive. The structure is lit up from the inside with twinkling LED lights that give the pyramid an almost ethereal appearance.
It’s a magical sight and one that no fan of Christmas markets should miss out on.
2023 Dates for the Hibiya Park Christmas Market: November 23 – December 25
Would you like to make your own mulled wine (Glühwein)?
- 1 bottle of red wine (Melot works well, but if you prefer a non-alcoholic alternative, try cranberry or grape juice)
- 4 cups of apple cider
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise
- 1 sliced orange
- 1/4 cup of honey
Though the lion’s share of magical Christmas markets are indeed found where you might expect – Europe, there are plenty of hidden gems out there beyond the borders of the Old World. Wherever you find yourself over the Christmas period, be sure to bundle up, grab a glass of mulled wine, and enjoy whatever Christmas market pops up near you!
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Denisse is a global education and communications consultant, as well as the main person behind MacQuil. As an international mentor and frequent traveler, she enjoys sharing information to help anyone travel, study or work abroad.
Denisse holds a Master's in Management from GWU, a Master's in Education from Harvard University and an Executive Coaching Certificate from the University of Cambridge.