Christmas in Europe is our favorite time of year. The Christian holiday spans hundreds of years, but it has its roots in much deeper traditions. Bringing in fir trees wreathes of holly on doors and a multitude of others, explore the markets this Christmas and uncover the local traditions. It makes a great present for a special loved one. As Chris Clarkson, Managing Director of sunshine.co.uk, said: ‘A surprise trip away makes for a great gift, but a lot of planning often has to go into it.
Obviously Germany tops the list of the best Christmas markets. It is by far the most famous, and has a wonder of variety. Each of the major cities in the country boats several markets, with Berlin taking lead. Of course, with the huge volumes of tourists swarming the city so be sure to plan your trip well in advance as accommodation books up quickly and can get quite pricey!
Local cuisine to try….Bredele, a delicious biscuit in winter flavours, we recommend the cinnamon and walnut!
Traditional Customs….Make and advent wreath at the market to bring home and place on your door.
Must-Have Souvenir… Have small children with you (or big ones disguised as adults)..Go to Hamburg and take a stroll down Spielzeuggasse, the Toy Street, full of playthings from around the world to bring back home.
It isn’t too far away from Germany, so there has been quite a bit of influence from the German markets in the Czech Republic. If you are heading to Prague to visit the Christmas markets, then it is worth staying in the Old Town. The square is gorgeous and strolling across that infamous Charles Bridge by fairy light. This is the perfect location to take a break from shopping as the Alps aren’t too far away, and the slopes are phenomenal. Take a trip skiing for as little as an hour’s drive away!
Local cuisine to try…. Guláš..there will be stalls galore selling this sumptuous stew! There are many varieties of the dish, with pork and beef taking prime spot! Soak up the gravy with a slice of chleba, bread flavoured with salt, caraway seeds and pork crackling.
Traditional Customs….Czech Christmas dinners consist of 9 courses! One of the courses is a carp, and Czechs believe that keeping a scale from the Christmas carp will produce family wealth in the coming year.
Must-Have Souvenir… Moser Glass is a fantastic present to bring home. This high-quality crystal manufacturer has been based in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic since in 1857. It’s safe to say, these are the most prefect crystal gifts you can find.
It is an unlikely choice, but Belgium is fast becoming one of the top spots for Christmas markets. It’s a little different from the more central countries such as Austria, Hungary, Germany and Czech Republic. However, it has a wonder of virtues, in particular its chocolate!
Local cuisine to try…. obviously, anything chocolate related! Chocolate fountains will flock the markets and rarely a stall will pass without them. A great nibble, but expect the number on the scales to up at the airport on the way home!
Traditional Customs…. Sinterklaas, December 6th, is an early Christmas. The night before children put their shoes by the fire with water and wine, in exchange for presents from St Nicolas coming down the chimney.
Must-Have Souvenir… Chocolate, Chocolate….and more Chocolate!