Europe In Winter: Favorite Holiday Markets
Author: Family Travel Forum StaffTags : Christmas Holiday, City Break, England, Europe, Museums & Culture, Winter Getaway
Despite the chill winds and snowflakes, the family fun radiating from the tents and stalls of Europe's Christmas Markets is enough to make visitors feel welcomed and toasty warm. Here's our pick of the very best places in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Great Britain and Austria to celebrate the season with kids at great European Christmas Markets. This tradition is so big in Germany, that German Christmas Markets have their own review.
During winter, in towns large and small, picturesque city squares are filled with musicians on balconies and choirs on church steps. Each evening from mid-November until early January, families can dine and shop outdoors the way locals do. At booths decorated in evergreen bowers and twinkling lights, parents can enjoy mulled wine while kids comb the stalls searching for the perfect gift: a nutcracker, a hand-painted creche, or a cake baked with loving care.
Starting from the largest and most glorious of destination Christmas Markets that you could center your whole trip around (Gothenburg,Sweden), to weekend affairs that make a great complement to other sightseeing (London Markets) here's a look at what's happening over the winter holidays.
Sweden Christmas Markets
Gothenburg(Göteborg), Sweden's second largest city, home of Volvo and Hasselblad, is also the No. 1 city when it comes to Christmas celebrations. According to their tourism office, more than 1.5 million visitors arrive each year during the late November to mid-December period when the city is decked out in all its glory. For its 90th anniversary, this holiday market is staying open through New Year's Day. At its Liseberg amusement park location, they've figured out how to do things in a really big way; plan to be overwhelmed by the 700 evergreens, nearly 4 miles of fir garlands, and 5 million sparkling lights extending from the harbor, through town and into the park. This is the largest Christmas market in Scandinavia.
Typically, vendors in 80 stalls and cabins sell arts and crafts such as wooden toys, hand made candles, traditional straw work, traditional foods served by indigenous people from Lapland, pink pigs made of marzipan, lots of mulled wine, and decorated spruce trees. Around the park are reindeer sleigh rides, ice skating shows, light shows, and hundreds of young couples sipping trendy drinks at the Ice Gallery & Bar. Your family will see "guaranteed snow every day" effects. For more information about the Gothenburg / West Sweden region, visit Goteborg tourism. For more information about Sweden and other travel options, search through the Visit Sweden tourism site.
Finland Santaland & Christmas Markets
Finland has gone way beyond the European tradition of town square Christmas markets to promote itself as the home of Santa's hideaway in the North Pole. Over the weekends leading up to Christmas, charter planes with loads of British and other European families fly into Finnish Lapland for just one day, to get a glimpse of Santa, and share their children's Wish List with him.
For Finns though, the Christmas season is especially welcome because events are planned to offset the short daylight hours and cold, cold climate. Families will find special concerts and festive menus everywhere.
Helsinki's Christmas Season typically begins the first week of December and ends a few days before Christmas. The entire Aleksanterinkatu Street is lit up, and Yuletide shoppers peruse beautiful and traditional craft items including fur hats, silver ornaments and wreaths made of woven oat stalks. There are 24 booths at Christmas World in the city's center. Other favorite markets include St. Thomas Christmas Market in Senate Square, the Ladies’ Christmas Market at Wanha Satama in Katajanokka, the Old Student House Christmas Market at Vanha Ylioppilastalo opposite Stockmann’s, and Ornamo’s Design Christmas Market. In addition to art and clothes, delicious edible treats include marzipan animals, gingerbread cookies, Christmas fruitcake and the flakiest prune-filled Christmas tarts imaginable.
The museum village of traditional homes, Seurasaari, is illuminated by candles and has displays about the Finns' ancient traditions. And, your family may spend hours indoors happily exploring beautifully decorated stores such as Stockmann's, Marimekko and Iittala. For more information, see Visit Helsinki Tourism.