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The magic of the European Christmas Markets

Christmas market

Ever dreamed of a white Christmas? While there’s something so very Australian about a sweltering southern-hemisphere celebration, the lure of snow and mulled wine is something else again.

Imagine the scene: horse-drawn sleigh, pink-cheeked children, fir trees and snow – Christmas card stuff!

But there’s more to a European Christmas than that – and it’s pure magic! We could write a book about these magical places but as we’re limited by space, here is a sampling of three.


This medieval walled city is situated about 200 kilometres east of Frankfurt. The Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt is free to enter and runs throughout December until Christmas Eve.

Famous for its Bratwurst, a Nuremberg tradition for 700 years, the market is filled with the scents of frying sausages, roasting nuts and gingerbread.

Sleigh-bells and the shrieks of delighted children overlay traditional Christmas music. The market’s central point is a splendid carousel, reminiscent of a bygone era in shimmering gold, red and green – it will enchant the young and the young-at-heart alike.

If you’re looking for gifts and ornaments, Nuremberg is just the place. This market is chockers with stalls selling all-things-Christmassy from the simple to the ornate. Prices are reasonable and the stallholders will wrap your goodies to keep them safe till you get home.

Vienna Christmas Dream Market

The market to beat all foodie-heavens is found in Austria’s Wiener Rathausplatz. Entry is free and the tram drops you practically at the front gate. Here, you’ll get to try a wide selection of traditional old customs – the best of which are edible.

From Lebkuchen – delicious spicy biscuits – to the wonderfully traditional tree ring cake called Baumkuchen, this market is about indulgence.

Wash it all down with a steaming cup of Gluhwein (mulled wine) while watching the kids ice-skate on a winding adventure trail – it’s magical!

A point to remember, every Christmas market across Europe sells its own brand of Gluhwien in its own branded Christmas mug. You’ll pay a deposit which is refunded when you return the mug – or you can keep your mug as a memento.

Tivoli Gardens

Everyone, and we mean everyone falls in love with Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. Rumour has it this park inspired Walt Disney to build Disneyland!

Since its opening in 1843, this wonderland has enchanted visitors and locals with attractions like food, rides, music and theatrical performances.

You won’t want to visit just once as its programs change by the season. But leading up to Christmas, the park transforms into a wonderland of fairy-lights and music. Enjoy festive cakes and treats, and sip gløgg, the Danes’ answer to Gluhwien, while the children enjoy the rides and meet Santa.

Tickets must be purchased to enter and they can be a bit pricey, but multiple visit passes are available which could save you a few Kroner.

Even if Christmas markets are not on your bucket list, we reckon they’re worth a visit – 741 million Europeans can’t be wrong!


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