The top ten Christmas markets 2016

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Christmas Markets

The best places to browse for presents while drinking mulled wine – in the UK and further afield

As Christmas looms ever closer, there’s a good excuse to wander round the prettily lit and scented markets in the UK… or further afield.

Browsing for handmade Christmas presents and drinking mulled wine, what could be better? 

Boundless looks at the 10 best Christmas markets in the UK and Europe


November 24-December 11

Each year the centre of Bath is transformed into a Christmas shopper’s paradise, as over 170 chalets packed full of Christmas gifts line the streets surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey.

Set in the picturesque streets surrounding Bath Abbey, the market exudes a more romantic atmosphere than some, and attracts thousands of visitors from across the UK.

Take a break from shopping to enjoy a hot chocolate in the snug pop up Après Ski Bar, or visit Bath Abbey for a Christmas carol service. With Santa’s Grotto and the ice rink nearby, there’s plenty to keep little ones happy too.

The Leeds Christkindelmarkt

November 11 – December 18

Millennium Square in Leeds will be transformed into a scenic festive village with more than 40 traditionally decorated wooden chalet stalls selling traditional German delicacies.

Expect gluhwein, bratwurst sausages, schnitzels, goulash, stollen, gingerbread, roasted nuts and candied fruits, as well as traditional and home made Christmas gifts.

A new an open air stage will have a daily programme of music and children’s shows.

Also new this year is Santa’s Breakfast in the Alp Chalet on Sunday mornings  (advance ticket only); and a Ski Hutte bar for an apres-ski ambience. The Alp Chalet - a Bavarian style restaurant – returns as does the popular ‘Kuh Stall’, complete with its real log fire.

London's Winter Wonderland

November 18-January 2

Family favourite Winter Wonderland returns to London's Hyde Park with a host of Christmas-themed fun and activities, including big top shows, an observation wheel and huge Christmas market.

The market is full of arts and crafts, jewellery and trinkets, and the Angels and Yuletide section, with wooden chalets overflowing with festive goods, is particularly charming.

Or have a go on the UK’s largest open-air ice rink. It’s free to enter so you can walk around at your leisure and soak up the atmosphere.

Manchester's markets

November 10 – December 20

No Mancunian winter is complete without a wander through the chalet-lined streets of the city’s seven distinct Christmas markets, all within roughly a quarter of a mile of each other and easily accessible.

European and local producers offer everything from fine jewellery, handcrafted leather bags, and top quality bonsai trees, to Dutch cheeses, French breads, and Spanish chorizo.

Each market has its own distinct character and atmosphere, with more than 300 stalls in total.

Bars are open until 9pm on all sites so you can soak up the atmosphere of a international event with a uniquely Mancunian flavour.

Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market

November 17-December 29

The largest authentic German market outside Germany and Austria and the centrepiece of the city’s festive event calendar returns to Birmingham each year in November for five weeks.

Explore more than 180 stalls selling gifts, jewellery, decorations, handmade toys, delicious German fare and the ever popular Glühwein.

Adjacent to the Frankfurt Christmas Market, the Christmas Craft Fair extends into Chamberlain Square where Birmingham’s own traders offer their own selection of beautifully hand-crafted items, created by local artisans.

Stuttgart's Weihnachtsmarkt

November 25-December 23

Dating back to 1692, the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is one of Germany’s best-known Christmas markets.

More than 3.5 million visitors come here every year to get into the Christmas spirit, and over the years the range of goods, including arts and crafts and culinary delicacies from all over the world, has become far more diverse among the roughly 300 stalls.

Daily live concerts, a children’s fairy tale land with nostalgic carousels, a real mini steam engine and a children’s bakery and candle workshop as well as the Antique Market on Karlsplatz square make this market something special.

Prague's classic Christmas

November 28-January 6

Christmas markets (Vanocni trh) are a key ingredient of the festive magic in the Czech Republic, and the Prague Christmas markets are the most impressive.

Old Town Square, Staromestske namesti, has a stage-set nativity scene, a huge tree and daily performances by folk bands and choirs.

Eat klobasa (Polish sausage) or trdelnik, a hot, sugar-coated pastry as you comb the stalls for carved wooden trinkets, crystal and traditional decorations.

If you can, enter one of the city’s many churches for an evening classical concert.

Budapest's Vorosmarty

November 11-December 29

Visitors to Budapest will find fairy lights on every tree and lamp post, and 100 cottage-style wooden stalls in the main market in Vorosmarty Square.

It’s a charming plaza in the heart of the city at the end of Váci Utca, in front of the prestigious Gerbeaud Coffee House, and two outdoor stages ensure the ambience is buzzing. Sweet Hungarian pastries, fur hats and gloves, traditional gifts and handmade chocolates and honey cakes rub shoulders with iron work and jewellery items.

Eat cinnamon-pastry chimney cakes (kurtoskalacs) and toki pompos, a Hungarian-style pizza topped with bacon, onion and cream.

And make sure you have a glass of Hungarian sparkling wine in Varosliget café overlooking the ice rink.

Strasbourg's Christkindelsmärik

November 27 – December 31

In Strasbourg in 1570 the very first Christmas market in Europe took place, called the "Christkindelsmärik" (market of the Infant Jesus).

Ever since, Strasbourg has continued the tradition, and is considered by many to be the best Christmas Market in Europe. During Advent, the capital of Alsace is even more magical.

Half-timbered houses are garlanded with giant red-and-white hearts, stars, angels and snowflakes; and the cobbled streets and towering fir tree on the Place Kléber means it gets top marks for Olde Worlde charm.


Innsbruck's romantic markets

November 15–January 6

Imagine the lights of a Christmas tree shining on the glistening tiles of the Golden Roof, the smell of freshly made “Kiachln” (piping hot doughnuts laced with Sauerkaut), and the sound of traditional Christmas carols.

This is Christmas time in Innsbruck. Of the half-a-dozen markets, the most romantic is in the Altstadt (old town), lined with medieval houses, where stalls are piled high with wooden toys, gingerbread and handblown glass.

Strolling through the market you will find Christmas ornaments, handicrafts and other winter treat, and a mug of Gluhwein will keep you warm as you listen to trumpeters play carols on the 500-year-old Golden Roof.

Ride the funicular up Nordkette mountain to Hungerburg Market and for views of the twinkling city lights and snow-tipped peaks.


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