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12 Winter Christmas Markets with a Santa's Village Atmosphere

Posted by Tim Roberts on Dec 20, 2023 2:56:17 PM

Moscows Red Square Christmas Market with the iconic St. Basil's Cathedral in the background

It’s that time of the year when we finally take a break from our hard work, reflect on the year that’s been, and get into the spirit of giving (and a little receiving). Christian or not, Christmas has a happy holiday vibe for all who celebrate. Some places embody this to the fullest, particularly in the northern hemisphere where it’s winter and more closely aligned with Santa’s village in the North Pole. Such destinations hold Christmas markets and have been doing so for generations, getting it down to a fine art. 

In our opinion, the ultimate way to embrace the festive season is by throwing on your scarf, beanie, and perhaps one of those ugly Christmas sweaters, and spending a chilly winter’s evening strolling through one of the best Christmas markets in the world. In the tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas, here are our top 12 Christmas markets to add to your bucket list.


12. Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market - Cologne, Germany

Colonge Cathedral Christmas Market is one of the most famous Christmas Markets

The Germans know how to do a good Christmas market, and one of their most famous is the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market. The festive village-like atmosphere is set in a square outside the majestic cathedral with lit-up Christmas trees surrounding the entire area with over 100 decorated stands offering perfect gift ideas for Christmas, including unique handicrafts. 

At some stands, you can even watch your presents being made right in front of you by talented artisans such as glassblowers, jewelry makers and embroiderers who can personalize your gifts. Plenty of toys are on display for the children and culinary delights include Kölner Dom Spekulatius, mulled wine and sweet potato fries. Season's greetings!

When: 20th November to 24th December


11. Christkindelsmärik - Strasbourg, France

Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg, France is one of Europe's best Christmas markets

Strasbourg, known as the ‘Capital of Christmas’, hosts one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Europe. The Christkindelsmärik has been working its magic for four centuries now, and is one of the most expansive Christmas markets as it  spreads throughout several squares of the medieval city, creating a fairytale atmosphere. From the sparkling light decorations to the smell of cinnthe most expansive Chrisamon and the sounds of Christmas carols, Strasbourg engages all the senses for an experience of true delight.


When: 24th November to 24th December


10. Old Town Square - Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Christmas Market in the old town square is a European favorite

As if Prague isn’t a gorgeous city already, seeing the Czech capital in its winter holiday state is something else. Journalists from around the world consistently rate Prague as one of the most magnificent Christmas destinations. You will see why when you step into the festive “winter wonderland” ambiance of the Christmas market at the Old Town Square, filled with the delightful scents of mulled wine and gingerbread. 


It’s the perfect place to indulge in some holiday shopping, whether it's for yourself or your loved ones. You will discover a treasure trove of locally handcrafted items, charming gifts, Christmas ornaments, and aromatic candles. You can also treat yourself to a culinary adventure with offerings such as roasted chestnuts, sausages, grilled chicken, and delectable dumplings. 


What market is open on Christmas day? This one!

When: 2nd December to 6th January


9. Viennese Dream Christmas Market - Vienna, Austria

The busy Viennese Christmas Market with city hall as a backdrop

If there’s a European city as beautiful as Prague, it would be Austria’s capital, Vienna. Full of charm and character, there’s no better time to see Vienna in all its cultural glory than during the festive season. The enchanting Viennese Dream Christmas Market is a standout experience set against the City Hall backdrop, promising unforgettable moments for those seeking the holiday spirit. The market's distinctive charm, coupled with delightful aromas, creates an ambiance that immerses all visitors in the joy of the season.

A favorite for families, inside the City Hall the ground floor is transformed into a haven for children. Here, young ones can engage in holiday activities like crafting Christmas cookies or candles. 

When: 11th November to 26th December 2023


8. Tallinn Christmas Market - Tallinn, Estonia

an aerial view of a snowy Tallin Chistmas market at night

Another delightful setting, Tallinn’s Christmas Market is also most likely to be covered in snow, enhancing its ‘Santa’s Village’ atmosphere. Nestled in the heart of Estonia's charming capital and set against the backdrop of medieval architecture, this market exudes festive magic, captivating visitors with its enchanting atmosphere. Wander through cobbled streets adorned with twinkling lights and explore traditional wooden stalls offering a variety of crafts, local delicacies, and yummy sweets.

When: 1st December 2023 to 7th January 2024


7. Vancouver Christmas Market - Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver Christmas market with pyramid and fog, one of norht Americas best Christmas markets

Not only is Vancouver one of the most naturally beautiful cities in the world, it has a charming outdoor Christmas Market overlooking its magnificent harbor. This European-inspired market infuses the air with the scents of spiced cider and delectable treats. Wander through the enchanting maze of twinkling lights and artisan stalls, where you can discover handcrafted gifts and seasonal delights. With its unique blend of Canadian warmth and European traditions, the Vancouver Christmas Market offers a joyful escape for families, friends, and visitors alike.

When: 24th November 2023 to 24th December


6. Distillery Winter Village - Toronto, Canada

Totonto Christmas Market

The Distillery Winter Village in Toronto transforms the iconic historic district into a festive wonderland, thrilling visitors with its magical atmosphere. It makes fantastic use of dazzling colored lighting beamed onto the old buildings, and charming wooden stalls offer an array of artisanal gifts and holiday treats. But the centerpiece is a majestic Christmas tree that stands tall in the heart of the market, lit from top to bottom and radiating seasonal cheer. To top it off, you will delight in the sounds of carolers and festive performances that fill the air with joy.


When: 24th November 2023 to 24th December


5. Christkindlmarket - Chicago, USA

Christkindlmarket, Chicago is one of the best Christmas Markets in North America

The Christkindlmarket in Chicago transforms the city's famous Daley Plaza into a beautiful Christmas market reminiscent of a German holiday village, from which it draws its inspiration. Embraced by the iconic Chicago skyline, this market radiates old-world charm with its traditional wooden stalls adorned with twinkling lights. The market showcases a curated selection of handcrafted ornaments, unique gifts, and seasonal delights. With its German-inspired ambiance, festive entertainment, and a giant illuminated Christmas tree, the Christkindlmarket has become a beloved annual tradition, inviting Chicagoans and visitors the world over to revel in the magic of the holiday season.

When: Friday before Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve


4. Union Square Holiday Market - New York City, USA

Ice skaing in front of the giant Christmas tree in Bryant Park, New York

Whether it's taking a snowy carriage ride through Central Park, gazing at the gigantic Christmas tree while ice skating in Rockefeller Center, or visiting the filming locations of movies that make you want to travel there, there’s something special about Christmas in New York City. And one of the iconic places to experience this is Union Square Holiday Market

Nestled in the heart of New York City, the Union Square Holiday Market transforms the bustling urban landscape into a festive oasis during the holiday season. Against the backdrop of city skyscrapers, this market offers a unique blend of local and global holiday treasures. Stroll through the rows of charming red-and-white stalls, where artisans showcase their handcrafted and imported goods, ranging from exquisite jewelry to artisanal foods. The air is filled with the scents of seasonal treats and the market's vibrant atmosphere is enhanced by joyful carolers and live performances. 

With its central location and diverse offerings, the Union Square Holiday Market has become a cherished destination for locals and visitors alike, capturing the true spirit of the holidays in the Big Apple.


When: November 16th - December 24th


3. Bath Christmas Market - Bath, England

Bath Christmas Market is one of the UK's most charming Christmas makrets

Bath has to be one of the most underrated British cities in this writer's opinion. It gets its name from the ancient Roman baths, which still stand and serve as a major tourist attraction. The Bath traditional Christmas Market, set against the stunning backdrop of the historic city, offers a magical escape into the festive season. With the picturesque Georgian architecture as a backdrop, the market transforms the streets into a winter wonderland filled with twinkling lights, seasonal decorations and Christmas Market celebrations.

The air is infused with the aroma of freshly baked goods, creating an enchanting atmosphere. It’s a celebration of tradition and community, inviting locals and visitors alike to share in the joy of the holiday season in this charming English city.

When: November 23 to December 10th


2. Christmas Market on Red Square - Moscow, Russia

Red Square Christmas Market in Moscow is one Europes best christmas markets

Getting further up towards the North Pole now, Moscow is an appropriate city for the festive season as you are all but guaranteed to get a white Christmas. The Christmas Market on Red Square in Moscow, Russia, transforms this iconic historical site into a traditional Christmas market that captures the essence of winter magic. Against the backdrop of the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral, one of the architectural wonders of the world, the market exudes a unique Russian charm. 

Visitors are treated to a stunning array of traditional crafts, ornate decorations, and local delicacies. The crisp winter air is filled with the aroma of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, creating a truly immersive holiday experience. The market's lively atmosphere is enhanced by seasonal performances, creating a joyous ambiance amid the historical grandeur of Red Square.


When: December 18th to January 10th


1. Christkindlesmarkt - Nuremberg, Germany

The world famous Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, BY, Germany

Going full circle, we are concluding our tour of Christmas markets in Germany. If there’s one market on the list to take the crown, it would be Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt, followed closely by Frankfurt Christmas markets. The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, and stands as a timeless symbol of an authentic German Christmas market, enveloping visitors in the enchantment of the season. Set in Nuremberg's medieval Old Town, this Christmas market boasts a history dating back centuries. Its charming wooden stalls adorned with festive lights offer an array of handcrafted ornaments, exquisite gifts, and seasonal treats. 

When: December 1st to Christmas Eve


Merry Christmas! Have we left out any favorite Christmas markets? If so, let us know in the comments below. If you're wondering how to travel the world from the comfort of your own luxury residence at sea, give us a call.

On behalf of Storylines MV Narrative residents and team, we’d like to wish you the happiest of holidays. Thanks for reading and for your continued support throughout 2023… stay tuned for more great things in the new year!


Topics: Experience, Families

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