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November 18, 2020 3 min read

From Brussels to Rome, make it a point to stop at any of these historic markets that specialize in mulled drinks, handmade crafts, and other holiday wares.

Christmas in Europe is a wonderful time filled with elaborate pastries and the upholding of unique local traditions. European Christmas markets traditionally begin on the Friday before Advent and end on December 24th, although some celebrate until Epiphany, which is January 6th.



Brussels, Belgium

Brussels Belgium Christmas MarketThe Christmas market in Brussels has been around since 2002. Despite its short time in existence, it pulls off its Plaisirs d’Hiver/Winter Pret (AKA “Pleasures of Winter”) with elegance and style. Check out a nightly light and sound show on the Grand Place as well as the market surrounding the Bourse (or Stock Exchange). There you can find 200+ wooden chalets that host worldwide artisans selling handmade crafts, Christmas treats, and souvenirs.  Stop at any of the many food stalls for pots filled with moules (mussels) as well as caricoles (winkles or welks). Don’t forget to get some fluffy Belgian waffles! Near the fish market, you can find a spinning, glistening 160-foot Ferris wheel and at the Place de la Monnaie, you can also find a massive ice skating rink.



London, England

Angel Christmas Lights, Regent Street, LondonRegent Street switches her Christmas lights on for a pedestrian parade in November, which is also when Christmas shopping begins. Christmas cheer in London typically spreads from the Norwegian spruce on Trafalgar Square down to the ice skating rink found at Somerset House. Head over to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland from mid-November through early January for a giant Ferris wheel, a toboggan slide, an outdoor skating rink, carolers and a traditional Christmas market. The Natural History Museum is also surrounded by more Christmas markets as well as the Greenwich Market. Walk up and down any streets in these areas and you are bound to sing along in your head with the chorus of carolers, spreading good tidings to you and yours.



Copenhagen, Denmark

Christmas, Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, DenmarkCopenhagen celebrates yuletide, or Jul, with its own Christmas crafts market and many Christmas trees decked in lights in the famous historic amusement park, Tivoli Gardens. Stretching along four miles, you can enjoy loads of lights that have been hung artfully along the way. Grab some glogg, a steaming hot mulled red wine, filled with almonds, raisins, cloves, and cinnamon sticks and then steeped in schnapps and aquavit. Along a canal in the historic Nyhavn district, you can find a crafts market, which you should aim to visit. When in the area, keep your eyes open for pixie-like nisser, which are tiny elves that are spread around Denmark during Christmastime, donned in red shirts, clogs and pointed red caps. They may bring presents if you leave bowls of porridge in the attic – but if you forget, they will deliver mischief instead.



Rome, Italy

Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy, Christmas Decorations
Spread across the city, Romans erect presepi (or Nativity scenes). They can be found on the Spanish Steps and before St. Peter’s as well as in church chapels and more. You can find an exquisite Christmas market in Rome on Piazza Navona where you will find handmade presepio figures, ciambelle (massive doughnuts), toys, carnival games and loads and loads of peanut brittle. Look for “La Befana,” the Christmas witch while in the city. She traditionally brings presents to Italian children on Epiphany in early January, offering more gifts after Santa’s visit on Christmas Day.





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