5 Christmas Markets and Festivals to Visit this Winter

No matter whether you are traveling with your family, friends or a loved one, Christmas markets and festivals are a great place to go. While the most traditional markets are found in Europe, there are festivals all over the world in December. Here are five to get you in the holiday spirit!

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#1: Quebec, Canada

Ever since the New French colonized Quebec, they have been following a rowdy tradition of getting together just before Lent to eat, drink and be merry. The result is the world’s largest winter carnival, which was first held in 1824 and which has enriched its program of activities from one winter to the next.

This year, the festival will be taking place from January 27 to February 12, 2012. Attractions include activities for all ages: snow baths, night parades, snow slides, giant foosball, snow sculptures, shows, sleigh rides, and skating.

Couples will want to check out to the Ice Palace. Bundle up and give your loved one a kiss as you are surrounded by a magical construction made entirely out of ice.

Visit the official website for more details.

#2: Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Christmas Market © hdc

In Prague, the Christmas market is held in the Old Town Square. In contrast to other markets which have become more and more commercialized, this market still retains much of a low-key and friendly atmosphere. The fact that you can expect to see a lot of snow in Prague during this time makes it an even better place to get into a Christmas spirit.

In terms of goods for sale, expect to see folk items, candles, jewelry and wood-carved puppets. All of these are on display in idyllic wooden huts.

Visit the official website for more details.

#3: Queenstown, New Zealand

Way back in 1975 a bunch of Queenstown locals decided that the start of winter was a great excuse to have a party. They organised races on the mountain and in town, lollies for the kids, beers for the grown-ups, a concert or two and a town-wide ball, all of which made the Festival a great success. News spread quickly and the next year people came from further afield to join the festivities.

Since then the Festival has evolved into New Zealand’s biggest winter party and some say the biggest winter party in the Southern Hemisphere!  It’s a 10-day celebration of Queenstown’s unique culture and community with street parties, fireworks, international and local acts, jazz, comedy, a Mardi Gras, family fun, Ball, and plenty of Mountain Mayhem.

Note that since Queenstown is located in the southern hemisphere, the dates for the Winter Festival 2012 are Friday 22nd June – Sunday 1st July.

Visit the official website for more details.

#4: Nürnberg, Germany

Nürnberg Christmas Market © theboybg

Nürnberg is home to one of the oldest and most well-known Christmas markets in all of Germany – it dates back to 1628.

Tradition still has it that each year, a young woman or man (usually a woman) is named “Christkind,” which can literally be translated as “Christmas child.” The elected woman or man wears a glittery costume, a large golden crown, and is also the one who opens the market to the public.

Visit the official website for details.

#5: Denmark, Copenhagen

Almost all of Denmark’s main towns and cities are home to a beautiful Christmas market. In Copenhagen, you’ll find one of the most well-known Christmas markets, called the Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Fair. It is located in the Tivoli Gardens in Odense, and as the name implies, draws on the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen.
As you stroll around the fairy tale market, try “gløgg & æbleskiverm,” a hot and spicy drink made with red wine and traditionally served with round, pan-fried cakes accompanied by sugar and jam. Or take a seat at one of the 20+ restaurants and sample a traditional Danish Christmas lunch with pickled herring, liver paté, meat balls and more. Most of the restaurants also offer à la carte international cuisine if you are not in the mood for culinary experiments.

  1. These are some terrific Christmas festivals, thanks for sharing. We have a wonderful one here in Chicago – the Christkindl Market, that we visit every year. It’s always a great time.

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