Christmas markets: the cool way to warm up for the festive season

From now until December 24th you will be spoiled for winter wonderland choices

 

What was once was a European phenomenon has now become an annual tradition the world over. A trip to a Christmas market, here or abroad, is one of the most captivating ways to get into the festive spirit.

In Germany, where the tradition began, Nuremberg is hailed as one of the best markets to visit. From now until December 24th the Christkindlesmarkt, which was founded in 1628, offers spicy sausages, handcrafted gifts and their famous gingerbread under twinkling lights and their prized Christmas Angel, while their children’s Christmas market in the Hans-Sachs-Platz is a treat for little travellers (christkindlesmarkt.de).

Austria is especially proud of its markets, dating back to the Middle Ages when citizens were granted the privilege of holding a December market or “Krippenmarkt”. Today, the country hosts more than 20 official Advent markets, with the Viennese Christmas Market, in front of the City Hall, among its most picturesque. Ice skate, learn to make festive cookies or candles to the sound of international choirs singing carols against the backdrop of the Austrian capital (wienerweihnachtstraum.at).

World’s best

Voted the best Christmas market in the world, Zagreb’s Christmas festival is a feast for body and spirit, with themed programmes, traditional delicacies and entertainment on the streets of the Croatian capital (visit-croatia.co.uk). New York never fails to get into the holiday spirit, but for a market with a twist check out Williamsburg’s Night Bazaar. Overlooking the Hudson Bay and Brooklyn Bridge, this modern interpretation by nightfall boasts the best in craft beers, locally produced artisan gifts, live music and more than 100 food and craft vendors (bkbazaar.com).

Back in Ireland, the selection of markets is endless. In Dublin, experience a Georgian Christmas in Merrion Square, with 25 of Ireland’s leading contemporary designers and food producers showcasing their works and wares (merrionsquare.ie). Cork’s annual market takes over the Grand Parade from now until January, the highlight (literally) of which is their Ferris wheel. Grab a hot chocolate and wrap up before taking a spin in the big wheel for a view of the city unlike any other (corkchristmascelebration.ie).

For a market with an international influence, visit Belfast, where 100 decorated chalets bring together 32 nationalities; French crepes, Dutch pancakes, Belgian chocolates and an exotic selection of ostrich, wild boar and crocodile burgers are set to feed the masses (www.discovernorthernireland.com). For even more ideas, brew a batch of mulled wine and visit christmasmarkets.com.

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