As the holiday season is getting closer, cities light up their streets and open their Christmas markets. This custom finds its roots in Middle Age Germany and is becoming ever more popular in many cities worldwide. During the 4 weeks of the advent, the period preceding Christmas day, Christmas markets are sprouting around the globe. These ephemeral islands of Christmas magic are enlivening the cities with scents of roasted nuts, bratwurst and mulled wine. The accent is set on artisanal, hand-made products as well as traditional ornaments and gifts from around the world. Here our selection of markets, there must be one to discover close to where you are:
Nuremberg: Germany being the birthplace of the Christmas markets, you can find one in almost any location around the country, from the large ones in Berlin or Cologne to the medieval ones in Esslingen or Bad Wimpfen.
If not the oldest Christmas market (you will find it in Dresden), the Nurnberger Christkindlmarkt is surely the most famous one in Germany. Hosting 180 stalls, the city is turned into a twinkling sea of christmassy fantasy from November 28th to December 24th. Here sustainability is high on the agenda since ever as only hand-crafted products are allowed on the market. Additionally, the stalls are powered by regenerative energy and there is a very large offer of organic and locally sourced products.
Strasbourg: It is not without any reason that the capital of Alsace dubbed itself as «Capital of Christmas». Perpetuating the tradition since 1570, Strasbourg is France’s oldest Christmas market and has been voted "European Best Christmas Market for 2014" by a jury of thousands of world travellers.
Stroll around the majestic Cathedral for the very classic ornaments, hand-crafted goods and sweets or lose yourself in one of the 11 markets around town. Not to be missed is the Village of Sharing, where all sales are dedicated to supporting charities helping people in need.
Bolzano: With the spectacular Dolomites as background, Bolzano’s Mercatino di Natale is Italy’s largest christmas market. Since 24 years, the south tyrolean capital has adopted the Nuremberg tradition and draws the crowds with 80 stalls of arts and crafts, local specialities and delicacies. As part of the city's overall sustainable approach, the Christmas market is promoting green values such as regional, seasonal, organic and fair trade and is on the way to become certified as Green Event in 2014.
Philadelphia: The LOVE Park welcomes this year again the Philadelphia' s Christmas Market directly inspired from the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt. It has now become a tradition that the Christkind from Nuremberg opens the Philadelphia event with her prologue, identical to the one she pronounces in Germany. Not only the children will feel touched by the magic of the moment.
Toronto: In Toronto Distillery Historic District, find the best of the Old and New World as the market is advertised. Besides the traditional arts and crafts and food stalls, the Toronto Christmas Market presents a rich program of free street performances and music. On December 8, do not miss the Charity World Caroling Challenge where thousands of participants are invited to join in the largest caroling choir to break the World Record and support the Daily Bread Food Bank.
Share with us your impressions and favourite Christmas markets!