The aroma of almonds, cinnamon and ginger, flashing lights, street bands, wooden houses where beautiful memories tinkle and shine: many cities around the world are preparing to receive Christmas, and some don't even need snow to create a magical atmosphere. Their Christmas markets are where it is easiest to believe in the magic of Christmas again.
It is better to visit these markets not during the Christmas season, but during Advent, when cities prepare for the vacations. The prices of tickets and accommodation at this time are lower, there are fewer tourists and the atmosphere is the most magical.
Don't hesitate, a visit to a bright and welcoming market is a sure way to bring the vacations closer and fill Christmas (and Christmas shopping) with a magical atmosphere and tradition. So put your best scarves and gloves in your suitcase and get on the plane to one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world. Here are a few:
Stockholm, Sweden - Christmas Market at Stortorget Square
The Stortorget Christmas market is the oldest Christmas market in Sweden: it opened in 1837. It has 40 compact red stalls that combine perfectly with the historic atmosphere of a square in the heart of the old town. It is hard to think of a better location for a Christmas market.
Warm up with a traditional cup of sweet glög (the Swedish version of hot spiced wine) and find the perfect pair of woven mittens or other souvenirs from local craftsmen. Be sure to try traditional Swedish Christmas food. The tastiest ones are pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies) and saffransbullar (saffron buns), and don't miss out on local dishes such as moose, smoked sausages and venison.
Strasbourg, France - Christ Child Fair
Another classic example of the great European tradition of Christmas markets is the Fair of the Christ Child in Strasbourg, one of the oldest in Europe. Since 1570, local residents have managed to perfect the skill of their arrangement, and this is remarkable. The 300 wooden chalets are divided into 11 themed villages throughout the city center. The main market is located in the Cathedral Square. There is a large selection of local artisans, jewelry and seasonal sweets.
The Alsace (Alsacia) area is known for being the place where the Christmas tree tradition originated, so it's not surprising that it's on all the lists of places to visit if you like Christmas. So if you decide to go to this market, remember that Alsace is more than Strasbourg, and that the original city of our beloved Christmas tree is Sélestat, come and visit us, you will be surprised. Really, it 's worth visiting Alsace at Christmas (in spanish: visitar Alsacia en Navidad).
In Alsace, Christmas treats include vin chaud (yes, that's hot wine again), deliriously delicious cookies, with a variety of flavors, from hazelnut and orange to cinnamon and praline. Other culinary wonders include sauerkraut and bakeoffe, a German shepherd roast. Enjoy!
Helsinki, Finland - Christmas market in the Senate Square
Ask any Finn, and he will proudly tell you that Santa Claus, the one and only, was also born in Finland. Go to the Christmas Market on the Senate Square in Helsinki for a chance to meet him in person. By the way, he appears there every day so that everyone who wants to have the opportunity to talk to him and discuss his vacation wish list. After that, don't forget to have a glass of warm glug, and you will immediately feel the excitement of the festive mood. And if that's not enough, a brass band, flashing Christmas lights and a couple of circles on the carousel will definitely do the job.
Walk around 133 local craftsmen's stalls and be sure to try the reindeer, the Finnish main dish.
Sibiu, Romania - Christmas market at the Grand Square
The Sibiu Christmas Market in the beautiful Grand Plaza is a very romantic place located in the city between three mountain ranges. Stroll through the rows of 70 stalls and select ceramics, furs and wooden toys for children. Then head to the skating rink or children's fairgrounds for some festive fun.
Sibiu is very beautiful and worth visiting, regardless of the season. But its privileged location in the Transylvanian highlands makes it particularly attractive in winter: the chances of a snowy Christmas are incredibly high here. Add to that a Christmas music concert or a magic light show and you have a fairy tale.
According to tradition, hunger and thirst can be quenched with hot wine, gingerbread and roasted chestnuts. But be sure to leave room for Romanian-Hungarian delicacies: kozonak (muffin) and kyrtöskalác (cone-shaped cakes). The last dish is the pride of the Hungarian minority in the region. What a merry Christmas!
Toronto, Canada - Toronto Christmas Market
Europe is a leader in quality and quantity of Christmas markets, but you can't just drink hot wine there. To add a little Canadian flavour to the European traditions of vanilla and cinnamon, head to the distillery district in Toronto. The cobblestone streets and brick facades of the industrial buildings provide an excellent historical setting. Flashing lights, wooden stalls and a life-size gingerbread house create the necessary Christmas spirit.
Arrive first and immediately head to the food stalls. They have everything from German Bratwurst to Belgian waffles. But the real king of the party is Putin, the main secret weakness of all Canadians. This is a mixture of French fries with hot fat sauce and soft cheese chunks. Then, before you are lured into the candy trap of caramel syrup, go to the Ferris wheel or carousel to whet your appetite.
Walk around the fairgrounds and find rows of assorted gifts, such as Canadian wax candles, wooden toys and even bacon socks...you'd better not ask! When you buy most of your holiday memories, be sure to participate in the free tasting of wine, beer and other spirits. After all, this is the Distillery District, the area that was once the largest alcohol production center in the whole of the British Empire.
Dresden, Germany - Striezelmarkt
The Dresden Christmas market, the oldest in Germany, has been held for almost 600 years. Craftsmen from all over Saxony flock to the 250 stalls, which are packed with all kinds of items of local origin, from wooden decorations and nutcrackers to traditional candle pyramids.
The name of the fair comes from the German fruit cake strüzel. It is sold here, but under the name stollen. Other sweet and hearty delicacies include (of course) hot wine and gingerbread covered in chocolate and jam. Try the local bread and cheese (Dresden Rahmklecks) and don't forget the traditional German delicacies such as Bratwurst and pretzel. Guten Appetit!
Chicago, United States - Christkindlmarket Christmas market
Following the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt model, the Chicago Fair is struggling to replicate the success of its German predecessor. It takes place in the heart of the city, at the Daily Plaza. This is the largest German Christmas market in the United States. Hundreds of pinstriped stands offer classic German fair products: nutcrackers and Black Forest cuckoo clocks. Here you will also find Ecuadorian ponchos and handmade gifts.
However, the real local stars are the food vendors. Try some Bavarian winter specialties: sausages, sauerkraut, goulash soup and scallops. For dessert, try baked apples or delicious pretzels. And, of course, hot, spicy, warm wine! Here it is served in a boot-shaped cup, especially for those for whom there are never too many Christmas decorations.