European Christmas Markets
If you love Christmas, handicrafts, tradition, picturesque old architecture, mulled wine, Bratwurst, and you want an experience to remember and to put you in a festive mood, you can do no better than a seasonal market .
In modern times these markets are definitely seen by their host towns and cities as tourist attractions. The market in Cologne attracts over four million visitors which must be good for the hotel industry as well as for the vendors on the stalls.
There are crowds, but that’s part of the charm. Most people are there for the atmosphere rather than to bag a bargain so there’s no frantic pushing and shoving that’s associated with Christmas shopping and New Year sales in the high street.
In the Christian calendar, the four weeks leading up to Christmas are Advent. It is during Advent that these markets now happen in France, Germany, Belgium and Northern Italy.
There are also now many larger towns in the UK who host their own version of the Christmas market. These usually consist of a series of wooden stalls in a key town centre location where makers sell their wares in the run-up to Christmas.
Festive Advent markets have long been a tradition in many towns and cities of Europe and stem from a tradition dating back to the late middle ages. Strasbourg in France promotes itself as the oldest of the French Markets dating back to 1570.
It is quite difficult to pinpoint the true oldest of these because in some places an earlier market morphed into a Christmas Market over time. Vienna is a case in point where a December Market originated in 1294.
These markets are a relatively new development within the UK although they generally adhere to the European tradition of selling Christmas-related decorations , sweets, and handicrafts. The largest of the UK markets is probably Lincoln which began in 1982, although other cities such as Bath, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Manchester also host ones.
Much of the allure of these markets is the fact that they are very picturesque being located in a historical part of the host town or city. Many take place in a town square or outside a cathedral.
But let's not forget the mulled wine, traditional atmosphere in bucket loads, hot chestnuts, Nutella-filled waffles, handmade decorations, chocolate coated everything! What more could the Christmas addict desire?