With the weather getting cooler there seems little to look forward to in the winter months. However, heading to a Christmas market can dilute the frosty chill your mood might have taken and replace it with festive cheer and an exciting experience. Treat yourself to a weekend away in one of these excellent destinations and get some retail therapy.
In 1441 unmarried merchants erected the first ever Christmas tree in the Estonian city of Tallinn, before dancing around it with single women. At the end of Christmas the tree would be burnt to represent the end of an old year and the beginning of the new. A few hundred years on and the snow-capped medieval city of Tallinn plays host to a postcard picture market with beautiful, traditional Estonian goods. The market runs from 26th November 2012 to 6th January 2013.
Budapest’s Vörösmarty Square is the place to head to for the Budapest Christmas Market. You can buy a special festive mug and then have it refilled freely with flavoursome mulled wine or hot chocolate laced with rum, before treating yourself to one of the markets home-made cakes and treats to accompany it. The market is a hub of traditional Hungarian goods and crafts alongside live music and dance. It runs from 18th November to 30th December 2012.
For 18 days a menagerie of traditional huts and decorative lights take to the quaint streets of Bath for the Bath Christmas Market. It’s held in the heart of Bath’s main shopping district and sees 140 wooden chalets adorning the streets, offering a range of unique, handmade and unusual gifts, decorations and food items in the midst of an amazing atmosphere. The market runs from 22nd November to 9th December 2012.
The Edinburgh Christmas Market is alive with music, dance, art, fire displays and street theatre. The UK’s largest ice rink sits alongside the large market and a bungee snow dome, with cheerful crowds bustling between them all. Princes Street, the West End and the Mound play host to delicious food and amazing entertainment, and the market includes a big wheel for visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the whole event. The market runs from 18th November to 30th December 2012 (TBC).
With its thick winter snow and beautiful streets Krakow is one of the best cities to be over Christmastime. There’s a backdrop of Gothic churches and baroque palaces with the large Krakow Christmas market in the foreground. The stalls sell traditional Polish decorations, gingerbread treats and other seasonal items, and century-old carols are sung by groups of carollers. It runs from 27th Noovember 2012 until 1st January 2013.
What started out as a small collection of German stalls is now a huge Christmas market with over 200 stalls dripping with mouth-watering delicacies, gifts, crafts and a whole host of other bits and pieces. You can warm up with a hot chocolate, or sip on some German beer or French wine, while soaking up the exciting atmosphere. It runs from 17th November to 23rd December 2012.
The Prague Christmas market takes place at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square and is titled ‘Winter Wonderland’. The market offers a festive mix of Christmas carols, hearty food and hot wine and runs through both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The brightly coloured wooden huts sell a range of goods, from handicrafts and hot food (specialities include sausages, corn on the cob, pastries and local specialities) to Czech beers and spiced wine. The most impressive sight is the tree which is erected in the Old Town Square. Sourced from the Krkonose mountains, it’s adorned in lights and decorations and looks stunning against the dark nights sky. The market runs from 1st December 2012 to 6th January 2013.
Jon Stainer is Creative Director at StagWeb.