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Chardon’sleigh’: An Alternative Guide to Europe’s Best Christmas Markets

Chardon’sleigh’: An Alternative Guide to Europe’s Best Christmas Markets
17 November 2023 Samantha Anderson

Travel expert shares guide to the best Christmas markets in Europe.

There’s no denying it, Brits love the festive season and with new research revealing that almost a third of Brits (29%) are planning to travel abroad this winter it’s more than likely that a city break with a trip to a Christmas market is on the agenda. But how to decide which festive market to head to?

Rosie Panter, travel expert at the UK’s trusted travel price comparison site, dealchecker, says: “In the UK we’re spoilt by the abundance of easily accessible Christmas markets in Europe, though, with so much choice it can be tricky to know where to head.

“In recent years, a number that transcend the traditional idea of a Christmas market have gained popularity. From Europe’s most expensive to the largest underground market and a pink-themed market, there really is something for everyone.

“So, forget overhyped mugs of burning hot gluwhein and paltry gingerbread men and enjoy a truly unique festive experience that you’ll remember for years to come.”

Read on for Rosie’s alternative guide to the best European Christmas markets…

1. Splash the cash for a foodie feast in Stockholm
Until 17 December 2023

If you want to go all out it’s worth considering a visit to the Stockholm Christmas Market. Arguably one of Europe’s best seasonal markets though also one of the most expensive thanks to the high cost of living in Sweden, and perhaps the only destination in Europe to make London feel reasonably priced in comparison…

Head to Stortorget, the Old Town, where the market has been held since 1915, to enjoy seasonal traditional Swedish delicacies such as glögg, pickled herring, lutfisk (preserved cod), nötpaj med cognacsfikon (fig and nut tart with brandy) and knäck (Christmas toffee).

If you opt to try tjälknöl just make sure not to tell the kids as it’s likely one of Rudolph’s relatives.

2. An X-rated Xmas in Hamburg
Until 23 December 2023

Undoubtedly Europe’s hottest Christmas market, Santa Pauli is where traditional seasonal festivities meet X-rated entertainment.

Think everything from DIY mulled wine stands to an adult-only pine forest offering live music, strip shows and an open-air art gallery. Open until the early hours of the morning, this is the perfect place to buy some spicy gifts, perhaps not for your Nan though.

Best to visit Monday – Saturday if you want to ‘make the most’ of your visit as the programme is altered to be entirely child-friendly on Sundays.

3. Go underground in Valkenburg
Until 7 January 2024

Sick of traditional Christmas markets where you have to battle the elements? Christmas Town in Valkenburg is just the ticket.

Upon arrival it looks like any other Christmas market but hidden beneath the city and spread across three underground caves is the largest underground Christmas market in Europe.

The caves, dating back to the 11th century, are decorated with glittering lights whilst sweet stalls selling decorations, gifts and tasty treats line the corridors.

If, once you resurface, you have time to kill it’s well worth taking a trip in the cable car to see Limburg’s largest illuminated Christmas tree, the Wilhelmina Tower. It’s more fun than it sounds!

4. Think pink in Frankfurt
Until 22 December 2023

Also known as the Rosa Weihnacht or Frankfurt Pink Christmas, this LGBTQ+ friendly Christmas market glows in a haze of purple-pink light.

Expect the traditional markings of a Christmas market – eggnog, gingerbread and Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas on repeat – along with pink Christmas trees and brandy punch served from a four-meter tall cauldron.

Take your time browsing the gay-owned and operated Christmas stalls whilst snacking on dampfnudeln mit vanillesoße, tasty, sweet steamed dumplings served with a vanilla crème anglaise.

5. Experience the best of the best in Zagreb
2nd December – 7th January

If your only concern is to experience the best Christmas market in Europe, head to Zagreb.

Comprised of 25 individual markets connected by a series of lights, this is a seriously classy affair. Expect ice rinks, concerts, the scent of mulled wine and local delicacies in the air, tasteful festive lighting and sickeningly happy families having a magical time.

It is truly a picture-postcard event.

For more information, or to book your own visit


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