August 9, 2022
http3A2F2Fcdn.cnn .com2Fcnnnext2Fdam2Fassets2F201030172308 16 top christmas markets austria

(CNN) — There’s nothing quite like a festive market to bring out the Christmas spirit in people.

While these events can be traced back to Vienna — the city’s first recorded December market was in 1298 — the tradition has spread across the world over the centuries.

From Germany, to Switzerland, to New York, it’s difficult to find a coveted destination that doesn’t hold an impressive annual advent market.

In fact, some have grown so popular, they’ve become tourist attractions in their own right.

Unfortunately, a number of well-known festive markets did not take place last year due to the pandemic, while some, including Munich‘s iconic market, have taken the decision to cancel celebrations for 2021 as a result of rising Covid-19 cases across Europe.

Here’s our rundown of the 2021 Christmas markets that have gone ahead, as well as some of those that have been called off.

All information is correct as of November 30, 2021, but please do check before traveling.

Viennese Dream Christmas Market, Austria

Viennese Dream Christmas Market is one of the city’s oldest and most traditional events.

Lisi Niesner/Reuters

With reindeer rides, a giant ferris wheel and a classic nativity scene to marvel at, Vienna’s magical spectacle encapsulates the festive spirit fantastically.

Although there are around 20 Christmas markets in the Austrian capital to choose from, the Viennese Christmas Dream, held in front of City Hall, or Rathausplatz, is one of its oldest and most traditional events.

At the event, also known as Wiener Christkindlmarkt, you’ll find over 150 stalls offering up tasty treats like Austrian sausages and gingerbread cookies, along with homemade Christmas punch.

The famous Tree of Hearts, a giant maple tree decked out with hundreds of glittering hearts, is a hot favorite with visitors and a great photo opportunity.

Is it going ahead this year? No.

Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland

Basel Christmas Market consists of nearly 200 wooden stalls selling Christmas spices, decorations and candles.

Image Broker/Shutterstock

It’s hard to find a destination that does Christmas better than Switzerland.

Most Swiss towns are pretty much taken over by festive markets at this time of year and the atmosphere is incredible. Basel Christmas Market is the biggest and arguably the best around.

Separated into two different sections at Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz, it’s made up of nearly 200 fabulously decorated stalls selling Christmas spices, decorations and candles.

Families will particularly enjoy the Christmas fairytale forest at Munsterplatz thanks to activities such as gingerbread and candle decorating, a star workshop and a festive train.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

Basel Christmas Market opened on November 25 and is scheduled to run until December 23. All guests aged 16 or over must produce a valid Swiss or EU Digital Covid Certificate, which serves as proof of vaccination, testing and recovery, as well as an identity document in order to enter.

Strasbourg Christmas Market, France

Dating back to 1570, Strasbourg Christmas Market lights up this French city annually.

Frederick Florini/AFP/Getty Images

One of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets, Strasbourg began back in 1570, but it’s evolved considerably since then.

Spread over more than 10 locations, including a section of the UNESCO world heritage site of Grande Île, the hugely popular market lights up the city with thousands of twinkling Christmas lights and festive ornaments.

Pre-Covid, an estimated two million people a year attended the market, which features around 300 wooden chalet stalls selling everything from decorations and presents to local Alsatian wine.

Place Klebe is probably its most popular spot thanks to the Great Christmas Tree on display, as well as the ice skating rink erected underneath.

But visitors will find plenty of magical sights while wandering through the city’s narrow alleyways and pretty squares.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes. Strasbourg Christmas Market kicked off on November 26 and is due to close on December 30. All visitors are required to wear masks and follow social distancing regulations.

Brussels Winter Wonders, Belgium

Brussels Winter Wonders is one of the biggest events in Belgium.

Zheng Huansong/Xinhua via Gettyages

Brussels really comes to life at Christmas time thanks to Winter Wonders, which is more akin to a festival than a market.

The annual extravaganza, which extends across the Bourse, Place de la Monnaie, Grand Place, Place Sainte Catherine and Marche aux Poissons, is one of Belgium’s biggest and most popular events.

A light and sound show, ice skating, and fairground rides are among the activities to enjoy, while visitors can also browse through 200 or so chalets serving glühwein, Belgian beers and waffles and stare in wonder at the enormous Christmas tree erected in Grand Place.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

Brussels’s Winter Wonders is going ahead with restrictions, including one-way walking systems, while face masks are mandatory. All guests aged 16 or over will have to present a Covid Safe Ticket (CST) to prove they are either fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months.

The market will run from November 26 to January 2, 2022.

Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square Christmas markets, Prague, Czech Republic

Prague has several festive markets, but the main events are those in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

Martin Divisek/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

To say Prague goes all out at Christmas is something of an understatement.

The Czech Republic capital is the very definition of a winter wonderland during the festive period.

While there’s no shortage of markets throughout the city, the main ones are found in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

Thankfully these spots are only a few minutes’ walk apart, so revelers can easily visit both in a day.

Old Town Square provides endless entertainment in the form of live shows, dance performances and creative workshops, while Wenceslas Square is great for handmade gifts and locals treats like klobasa (Czech sausage) and mulled wine.

Is it going ahead this year? No.

The Czech government has imposed a nationwide state of emergency in the country due to a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases, and both markets have been canceled as a result.

Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona

Dating back to 1786, Fira de Santa Llucia has grown from a one-day event to commemorate the feast day of Santa Llucia, which falls on December 13, to a three-week fair.

Held right outside Barcelona Cathedral, the bustling market is separated into four different sections.

The first is nativity and figurines, where visitors can pick up nativity scene type decorations and figurines. Greenery and plants is packed with both natural and artificial trees and various types of plants.

The crafts section features handmade products and jewelry, while simbombes is designated for musical instruments.

There are also many festive activities like storytelling, a Christmas parade, and the caga tio, an enormous pinata-style Christmas log that spills out candy and gifts when beaten with a stick.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

I Mercati Natale, Piazza Santa Croce, Florence

Piazza Santa Croce provides a stunning setting for the festive market that’s brought from Germany to Italy annually.

Massimiliano Donati/Awakening/Getty Images

There’s much to see at this enchanting market, but nothing can top the beautiful backdrop supplied by Santa Croce’s Franciscan Basilica.

Although this traditional fair is transported from Heidelberg, Germany to Florence every year, it’s a very Italian affair in many ways thanks to the scenery and the many Italian treats, such as panforte, for sale.

However, there’s certainly no shortage of gingerbread, strudel and traditional Heidelberg Lebkuchen cookies.

Those who take a walk to the nearby Piazza del Duomo will be treated to a magnificent nativity scene, as well as an impressive Christmas tree that’s lit up on December 8 for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

I Mercati Natale began on November 20, 2021 and is set to close on December 19.

Advent in Zagreb, Croatia

The Croatian capital is buzzing with activity at Christmas, and Advent in Zagreb is undoubtedly its stand-out event.

Antonio Bat/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

It’s easy to see why Zagreb was voted the “best Christmas market destination” in travel portal European Best Destinations’ online poll for three consecutive years.

The Croatian capital really goes to town during advent. Think live nativity scenes, ice sculpture carvings, outdoor gigs, pop-up bars and a Christmas tram complete with Santa and his elves.

Advent in Zagreb also has an area devoted to “fooling around” (or “fuliranje”) where you’ll find delighted revelers dancing in the street while eating street food and listening to live entertainment.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

Advent in Zagreb 2021 is currently scheduled to run from November 27 to January 7, 2022.

Christmas in Tivoli, Copenhagen, Denmark

This Danish amusement park and pleasure garden is even more alluring at Christmas time.

Lindblom Stefan/Stella Pictures/Reuters

Rumored to be the inspiration behind Disneyland, this Danish amusement park and pleasure garden is a dazzling place to visit any time of year.

But you’ll struggle to find anywhere as enchanting as Tivoli Gardens during the festive period.

With over 500,000 fairy lights adorning the beautiful grounds, and everything from fairground rides to a traditional Pixie Band for entertainment, it’s a winter experience like no other.

The annual Lucia procession on December 13, where more than 100 girls process through the gardens carrying candles and singing to mark St. Lucia’s Day, is a particular highlight, along with the firework displays that take place between December 25 and 26, as well as New Year’s Eve.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes. Christmas in Tivoli is taking place from November 19 to January 2, 2022. Those aged 15 and older are required to show a valid EU Digital Covid Certificate before entering the amusement park.

Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia

Tallinn Christmas Market is the Estonian capital’s central winter event.

Ints Kalnins/Reuters

The Estonian capital’s annual affair is one of the more modern European Christmas markets.

Set inside Tallinn’s Town Hall Square, it’s packed full of stalls with traditional Estonian cuisine, artisan bread and handicrafts for sale.

On the entertainment front, there’s a huge carousel, a winter grotto, an open-air ice rink and a Santa who rolls up on a sleigh complete with reindeers.

Visitors are also treated to regular performances by dance troupes and choirs.

But as with many such markets, the Christmas tree is the main event. Tallinn’s tree has been displayed here since 1441.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

Skansen’s Christmas Market, Stockholm

Skansen — a classic annual winter fair in Sweden.

Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Stockholm isn’t exactly lacking when it comes to Christmas markets, but none are more traditional than Skansen.

Set on the island of Djurgarden in the world’s oldest open-air museum, it’s a wonderful exhibit of Swedish culture with some added yuletide magic.

The historical houses on display in the museum are decked out in colorful decorations for the occasion and all the tables inside are set up for Christmas dinner.

Visitors can make their own decorations at Christmas workshops, take part in regular craft demonstrations or join in with the dancing games around the tree at Bollnäs Square, Skansen’s main site.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

Skansen’s Christmas Market is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 26 until December 19.

Tuomaan Markkinat, Helsinki

This wonderfully Scandinavian Christmas market is held in Helsinki’s Senate Square, near the Emperor Alexander II statue.

Tuomaan Markkinat’s center piece is a vintage carousel, but the nearly 150 vendors selling traditional Christmas delicacies, glogi, Finland’s non-alcoholic take on mulled wine, and handicrafts are also a big draw.

Younger attendees can visit Santa Claus, who has his own wooden cabin here, and join festive activities like Christmas cookie decorating.

The market’s food court is particularly impressive, with big names such as award-winning plant-based restaurant Grön listed among the eateries.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

Tuomaan Markkinat is set to run from November 27 to December 22 in 2021. Visitors are required to present a valid EU Covid-19 passport before entering the on-site restaurant yard from November 28.

Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market, Budapest, Hungary

The Vörösmarty Square Christmas market is relatively new, dating back to 1998.

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Budapest has two main festive markets — St. Stephen’s Basilica Christmas market and Vorosmarty Square Christmas market.

The former takes place in front of the famous basilica, where crowds gather to watch the regular 3D light shows that are projected onto its facade.

In addition, there are over 150 stalls with vendors selling sweet treats, wine and arts and crafts.

Aside from the fantastic Hungarian foods that line its stalls — langos and chimney cake are particular standouts, its main highlight is probably a giant advent calendar that reveals a new window display on a daily basis from December 1 to 23.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

The Vorosmarty Square market is going ahead as planned from November 19 to December 31.

St. Stephen’s Basilica Christmas began on November 22 and is due close on January 1, 2022

Christkindlesmarkt and Gendarmenmarkt, Germany

Christkindlesmarkt has been around since the 16th century, drawing in close to two million people every year.

Daniel Karmann/picture alliance/Getty Images

Open-air winter street markets have long been associated with Germany, and the European country is home to some of the oldest and most visited festive markets.

Capital city Berlin has around 80 to choose from, but Gendarmenmark is perhaps its most renowned.

Positioned between the Franzosischer Dom and Deutscher Dom, it’s a maze of wooden huts with Bratwurst, mulled wine and ginger bread for sale, along with unique Christmas gifts.

At night, visitors can enjoy nightly concerts with dance and musical performances.

Over in Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second-largest city, the famous Christkindlesmarkt has been around since the 16th century.

During the Christmas period, around 180 stands are erected in the city’s central market square and the whole area is abuzz with activity.

The market usually draws in around two million people every year and is undoubtedly one of Nuremberg’s annual highlights.

Are they going ahead this year?

Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt 2021 will not be taking place as Covid regulations in Bavaria have been tightened due to rising coronavirus cases.

However, Gendarmenmark is already underway. The market will run from November 22 to December 31 with a number of restrictions in place. According to the official website of Berlin, all guests “must be fully vaccinated or recovered,” while children aged between 6 and 18 who are not vaccinated must present a negative Covid-19 test result or proof of recovery from the virus. Masks are mandatory for all visitors as of November 27.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland takes place in central London’s largest park each year.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is one of the most highly-anticipated winter events in the UK capital.

The festive favorite, which began in 2005, brings in huge crowds every year thanks to its 200-plus rides, including a 70-meter high big wheel, mulled wine stations and an outdoor skating rink, which happens to be the largest in the UK.

Visitors can also take part in ice sculpting workshops, watch a circus troupe, listen to live music at the lively Fire Pit bar, or eat at its brand new alpine-themed pop up restaurant.

Is it going ahead this year?

Timed entry tickets have been introduced as a precaution in order to manage crowd numbers.

Toronto Christmas Market, Toronto

The Christmas tree lighting at Toronto’s annual festive market.

Steve Russell/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Held in the historic Distillery District, Toronto Christmas Market serves as a rather charming take on the traditional European festive market.

One of the largest festive markets in North America, it features a Santa’s Grotto, a gigantic light tunnel, fairground rides, a 50-foot Christmas tree, as well as beer gardens.

Visitors will be able to find everything from artisanal food, one-off gifts and festive cocktails at the numerous stalls here.

There are also regular musical performances from brass bands as well as Christmas carolers.

Is it going ahead this year? No.

Toronto Christmas Market 2021 has been called off by officials for the second year in a row. However, a smaller event named the Winter Village has gone ahead at the Distillery District from November 18 to December 31.

Winter Village at Bryant Park, New York

Manhattan’s winter wonderland takes place in Bryant Park.

Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Each and every year, Manhattan’s Bryant Park is transformed into a magnificent wonderland for the Winter Village.

The renowned open-air market is a wonderful sight to behold, with over 100 custom-designed kiosks and a 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink that’s free to use provided you have your own skates.

Its food hall The Lodge provides an eclectic mix of eateries, along with an outdoor beer garden and a cocktail bar.

Outside the Winter Village, the Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain is at its most beautiful during winter time, when it regularly freezes over.

Is it going ahead this year? Yes.

The Winter Village officially opened on October 29 and is scheduled to run until March 6, 2022.

Information correct at the time of publishing.

Joe Minihane also contributed to this article.

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