Christmas is just around the corner, which means Christmas markets will soon be popping up all over Europe.
I love absolutely everything about Christmas markets, from the cute wooden cabins and glittering trees to the awesome eats and the cool chill in the autumn air. Christmas markets are magical places where the chaos of the world gives way to the spirit of the season. I’ve been to dozens of Christmas markets across the continent—heck, I’ve even been on a Christmas market river cruise—and each one has its own blend of holiday charm.
There are so many reasons Christmas markets are incredible, but I’ve managed to narrow it to the top five (in no particular order).
1. Local Crafts
Every Christmas market is filled with handmade crafts by local artisans. From cuckoo clocks to Russian nesting dolls, you’ll find an amazing variety of gifts and mementos. Other items you might come across include leather gloves, wooden lanterns, handcrafted children’s toys, and, of course, Christmas ornaments. You’ll also find your fair share of kitschy trinkets and souvenirs, but it’s par for the course.
2. Mulled Wine
Nothing helps warm you up on a cold night like a cup of hot cider. Every Christmas market has its own special blend of mulled wine that comes in a plastic keepsake cup. If you’re not into hot, spicy vino, you can keep the chill out with a cup of hot cocoa or apple cider.
3. Traditional Sausage
Now, I’m a vegetarian, but my husband would kill me if I didn’t include sausage as a top reason to take in a Christmas market. Sate your hunger with a made-to-order homemade sausage. Top it off with sauerkraut and other traditional fixings, and you’ve got yourself a mighty fine meal. For other herbivores like me, fear not, there are plenty of meat-free foods as well. Pretzels, cookies, warm nuts…so many to choose from.
4. Ice Skating
Many Christmas markets have a makeshift ice rink where you can rent a pair of skates and go for a whirl to the sounds of Christmas carols blaring through the overhead speakers. It’s an enchanting experience. I come from a place with a cool winter climate, so I grew up on a pair of skates. But what I’ve learned from visiting many Christmas markets is that most people have not. Half the fun for me comes from watching people put on a pair of skates for the first time and realizing it’s not as easy as it looks.
5. Christmas Spirit
Last, but most certainly not least, there are few places you’ll feel more alive with Christmas spirit than at a Christmas market. Just like jolly old Saint Nick, everyone is excited about the upcoming holidays and happy to be spending a few fun-filled hours shopping, eating, drinking, and socializing under the stars. It’s like stepping back to a time when we couldn’t carry technology in our pockets—everyone is invested in each other…in the moment.
Well, if that isn’t enough to convince you to take in some European Christmas markets over the next few weeks, head on over the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group to hear what others have to say.