Getting into the festive spirit at Europe’s Christmas markets

Vienna Christmas Market

Vienna Christmas Market

I’ve heard so much about the various Christmas markets being held across Europe but unfortunately I’ve never had the chance to go. I would really love some advice on the best markets to visit to get me into the festive spirit.

A visit to one of the many traditional and magical Christmas markets is the best way to get anyone into the Christmas spirit. The appeal of a Christmas market is stress-free shopping in a traditional, festive environment with a few mugs of mulled wine to help you along your way! The gifts available are unique and the atmosphere is nothing short of enchanting.

Vienna Christmas Market (17th November – 24th December )

Vienna’s classic Christmas market - the ‘Christkindlmarkt’ – is set in front of the magnificent Town Hall. Dating back over 700 years this is one of the oldest Christmas markets and one of the most visited in Europe.

The market itself has a central row of stalls selling hand-crafted decorations and arty bits and pieces, as well as deliciously scented natural beeswax candles. Throughout December, choirs from around the world perform in the Festival Hall at weekends which is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit. The park surrounding the market is a highlight of the festive season – its trees are decorated with themed lights shaped like gingerbread men or hearts.

Where to stay

The Levante Parliament (*****)

Prices start from €96 per room per night with

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

This five-star hotel is the perfect location for a holiday in Vienna. Situated close to Theater in der Josefstadt, Vienna City Hall and the Museum of Natural History, you will have the city at your finger tips. There is also a skating rink nearby if the mood takes you. The hotel also features a wonderful garden area and there is a bar and restaurant on hand which provides excellent Austrian and international cuisine.

NH Belvedere (****)

Prices start from €89 per room per night with

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

Situated near Vienna State Opera and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the NH Belvedere has everything you need for a great holiday. There is also a garden view from most rooms which is very refreshing before heading out to enjoy some Viennese cuisine and music.

Nuremberg Christmas Market, Germany (30th November – 24th December 2012)

Probably one of the best-known Christmas markets in Europe; Christkindlesmarkt is certainly worth a visit. Dating back to 1628 the Nuremberg Christmas market is known as a regional centre for trading handmade wooden figurines. It has a tradition that every two years a new ‘Christ child’ is appointed – a young man or woman who opens the market and rushes around town spreading Christmas cheer while dressed in elaborate gold and white with a large golden crown.

Unusual traditions aside, the market is best known for its food, which includes several stalls selling steaming Glühwein and grilled Nürnberger Bratwurst, delicious thin and spicy sausages. Another favourite is the local Lebkuchen or gingerbread which is sticky and sweet with honey. In the evening, the market is magically lit with hundreds of tiny lights and bands arrive to entertain everyone with anything from brass numbers to live jazz.

Where to stay

Maritim Hotel Nuernberg (****)

Prices start from €80 per room per night with

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

Situated in the heart of the historic old city this four-star hotel is the ideal place to stay. You can enjoy spectacular views of numerous monuments and buildings, including the Kaiserburg and a host of fascinating museums which must be visited. Be sure to relax and unwind in the hotel’s indoor pool, sauna, solarium and fitness center.

Woehrdersee Hotel Mercure Nuernberg City (****)

Prices start from €59 per room per night with

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

This contemporary four- star hotel is located next to the beautiful Wöhrderwiese Park which is near the beautiful old town. Some guest rooms feature a waterbed at no extra cost which may be a treat for your stay. The hotel’s restaurant Maurer’s serve regional and international delicacies which you can enjoy on their open terrace.

Brussels Winter Wonders, Belgium – 30th November – 6th January

This is the perfect Christmas market for anyone with a passion for food. The market takes over the Grand-Place, Brussels’s commercial hub, famous for the lavishly carved facades of its guild houses. The area is decorated in strings of lights which cascade down from the centre, over the little chalet-style wooden huts which cluster around the square, each representing a different European country.

You will have to work up an appetite before you go as there are plenty of food stalls with mountains of Belgian chocolates, steaming plates of moules, jars of preserved fruits and gingerbread on offer. With carols filtered through loudspeakers along with jugglers, street musicians and painters braving the cold to entertain the crowds, this market is a real gastronomic affair.

Where to stay

Metropole Hotel (*****)

Prices start from €114 per room per night with

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

This five-star hotel is the perfect pre-Christmas treat. In the style of French Renaissance this hotel has a splendour and dignity of the past blended with modern luxury. The baroque-style L’Alban Chambon restaurant features stained-glass windows, ochre marble columns, and parquet floors.

Stanhope Hotel (****)

Prices start from €85 per room per night with

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

This five-star hotel is set in a former 19th-century townhouse in close proximity from the Royal Palace, the European Parliament and the greenery of Parc du Bruxelles. You can explore the gastronomic delights of the Brighton Restaurant or go for a relaxing drink in the hotel’s Library Bar.

Prague Christmas Markets – 1st December – 6th January

From early December the city of Prague has a number of cultural events, folk displays, concerts and plays taking place until after the New Year. Its Christmas markets are quite low-key and family friendly with several dotted around the city - the biggest being held on the busy Old Town Square.

The rows of colourfully-decorated wooden huts stock attractive hand-made stocking fillers including locally made wood-carved puppets, jewellery, toys and candles. There is a central stage which hosts daily carol singers and bands playing seasonal tunes to keep everyone entertained.

Where to stay

Hotel Royal Esprit (****)

Prices start from €59 per room per night on

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

A four-star hotel right in the centre of the city, the Hotel Royal Esprit is in Old Town Square which is near Prague’s booming nightlife, Republic Square, Municipal House Hall and Palladium Shopping Centre. The hotel offers guests a complimentary breakfast and guest rooms include minibars and hair dryers.

Central Hotel Prague (***)

Prices start from €56 per room per night

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

Another hotel in the centre of the city, Central Hotel Prague is the ideal location for a short stay in the city. The complimentary breakfast will be a welcome sight after the night before and on-site bike rental could also be a great way to spend the day, and sample all this beautiful city has to offer.

For more information and travel tips on planning your holiday visit or call 1800 55 3338 to wake up happy on your holiday!


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