The Christmas market
in Brussels - known as Plaisirs d'Hiver (French) and Winter Pret (Flemish) - extends
from the world-famous Grand Place to Place St. Catherine. Made up of
240 chalets, the market sells an array of crafts, decorations and gourmet treats,
including the famous Belgian waffles, chocolate and frites! There is also a large
selection of gourmet delights to take home as gifts, such as artisanal sausages, cheeses, preserves and foie gras.
Gingerbread house stalls and lots of lights are the hallmarks of the
Christmas markets in Düsseldorf. The gingerbread houses, which have different
themes, are sprinkled throughout the city. The Marktplatz Christmas market is
at Düsseldorf’s city hall and sits at the feet of the statue Jan Wellem, a Düsseldorf landmark. Also at Marktplatz is the almost 100-year old
merry-go-round and the hand-carved life-sized manger, which is always a major
The city of lights shines even brighter during the holiday season with a
number of traditional Christmas markets throughout the city, and the Champs Elysées is home to one of the city’s most popular ones. As you make your way
through the market that stretches from the Champs Elysées to the Place de la
Concorde, you’ll find chestnuts roasting on an open fire and maybe even Jack
Frost nipping at your nose.
I went to Riga for the first time about 9 years ago, though I remember very little about the city. I don't remember what I saw or did. I don't recall the cuisine. I do, however, remember being seen. Not just seen, but starred at. Apparently the residents of Riga hadn't seen too many black people in the early noughties, so when I rolled into town with Mr. Man and our brown-tinged little ladies they could not take their eyes off of us.
Lutheran Church in Helsinki looms over Senate Square, which is also where you
will find the St. Thomas Christmas market. With close to 150 vendors in red
wooden stalls selling crafts, baked goods and other Christmas specialties, it
is the biggest Christmas market in Finland. Along with the Christmas markets,
another holiday tradition in Helsinki is the Christmas lights along the city’s
main shopping street, Aleksanterinkatu.
Maastricht, in the south of the Netherlands, is decorated and illuminated in celebration of the Christmas season. A highway of lit streets takes you through Magical Maastricht, connecting the city’s squares, leading from one Christmas market to the next, one event to another; including ice rinks, cultural programs and world class shopping and gastronomy.
Set around the town hall and Aachen Cathedral, the Aachen Christmas market is small but cozy. In addition to an abundance of the requisite Nutcrackers, Smokers and Christmas Pyramids that are staples at the German Christmas markets, Aachen's local specialty - a type of sweet bread called Printen - is also sold at the market.
Though it's quite small, with only a handful of stalls, the Tallinn Christmas market was absolutely delightful. There are a ton of fun holiday activities at the market, including an outdoor skating rink, classical and jazz concerts, and Santa’s house where the littlest visitors to the market can mail their Christmas list and feed the baby reindeer.
If I was forced to choose a favorite out of the
countless Christmas markets I have had the pleasure of visiting, the honor
would go to Prague. The city is just so stunning, in that fairytale sort of
way, and even more so when it is all done up for the holidays.
Vienna Christmas Market is believed to have evolved from the city’s 'December
Market’ and has more than 700 years of tradition. This tradition is alive and
well in Vienna where you can find an impressive Christkindlmarkt around almost
largest Christmas Market takes place in front of the city's neo-Gothic town hall, the Rathauspark, which
has elaborately decorated trees, and for children, pony rides on the
Christkindl Express, and the Rathaus itself is transformed into an enormous
advent calendar, and each day a window is opened.