Touring Europe’s Christmas Markets

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Grand European Travel is sponsoring this look at European Christmas Markets.

For anyone who is looking to add a little overseas spark to their holiday season, touring Europe’s Christmas markets is always a great idea. Donna’s experience Cruising the Rhine River during the holidays a few years ago was simply amazing. Full of holiday cheer, local food and drink, and way too many knick-knacks to count, touring these charming markets will make for great memories that last a lifetime.

Nuremburg's Xmas Market
The Nuremburg Xmas Market is one of Europe’s most popular.

While much is made about going home for Christmas to spend time with friends and family, for the more adventurous individuals, Christmas can also be a great time to travel. There are many places around the world where Christmas is celebrated in unique and exciting ways, and you don’t want to miss them simply because you feel like Christmas is not traditionally a time for traveling. If you are planning to travel in Europe over the Christmas holidays, you ought to make time to visit one of the traditional Christmas markets on your route. Europe’s Christmas markets are a great way to get a taste of the local culture and find out what the local people are most proud of. While Christmas markets offer a wide variety of exciting things to see and do, there are a few attractions that you simply should not miss.

Enjoy the Local Food and Drink

European Christmas markets
These markets are loved by locals and visitors alike.

One of the main attractions at Europe’s Christmas markets is the food. Local specialties as well as a variety of holiday treats can be had from any number of vendors. Many people selling food and drink are doing it in small batches, often based on a family recipe. This is why the food you can enjoy at the markets is often very different from what you get in restaurants. Some of the food available at Christmas markets is specific to the holiday. The markets are often full of sweet treats that are perfect for slipping into a stocking or leaving out for Santa. Cakes, nuts, candied fruit and chocolate are all common. You may also find preserves and jams made from fruit harvested in the summer and fall.

Arts and Crafts

European Christmas markets
There will be no shortage of Christmas odds and ends to bring back to the family.

Christmas markets are also great places to check out the local arts and crafts, and support local artisans by picking up gifts for yourself and your loved ones back home. The exact items you may find in the arts and crafts area of the market depends on where you are. Counties, regions and even individual towns all have arts and crafts that they specialize in. However, you can generally expect to find items that are unique for the Christmas season. Keep an eye out for hand-blown glass ornaments, nutcrackers, handmade toys and knitted scarves or shawls.

Song and Dance

Christmas markets are about more than just shopping. They are also a good place to see performances of native songs and dances. Almost all markets have a central stage where groups from the community perform. If you don’t feel like fighting the crowds at the stage, you may encounter groups of Christmas carrollers moving around the market as well. Larger markets may also have other types of entertainment, such as ice skating or carnival rides. You may even get a chance to take part in some of the regional sports like curling, if your skating skills are equal to it.

How to Visit a Christmas Market

Small towns and larger cities alike run Christmas markets from the end of November through Christmas. Though they got their start in Germany, Christmas markets are quite common throughout continental Europe and most tours of Europe that take place over the holiday season should give you the opportunity to visit at least one. It’s important to note that most markets are held outside, regardless of the weather. Dress warmly and where a hat or hood if the forecast predicts snow. You may also want to wear a comfortable pair of boots that will keep your feet warm and dry but are suited for a lot of walking.

Grand European Travel offers European package tours over the holiday season to ensure that you get to sample all the excitement that Christmas markets have to offer.

Disclosure: Grand European Travel has sponsored this article.

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