by Manu SharmaJul 12, 2023
The centuries-old tradition of Christmas markets has its roots in the German speaking regions of Europe. The lure of keeping warm with gluehwein (mulled wine), and the allure of gift shopping at alfresco markets across Germany draw throngs of tourists. Over the years, Yuletide bazaars in neighbouring European countries have expand and sparkle in their own light.
Let us take you through the alleys of few cities that make great destinations for Christmas festivities.
Paris: Move over shades of crimson and fern, the modish Parisian pallet for Christmas is indigo and tangerine with flourishes of wispy white and sprinkles of silver. The Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market in the heart of the city is a visual feast. Vendors housed in chalet-shaped booths sell everything from chic berets and wraps to steaming mushrooms and beignets with a delicate dusting of powdered sugar.
Luxembourg City: If it’s a Santa Claus you are looking for, you will find him atop a gluehwein stand, barrel in hand! The markets in this fortified medieval town are about family fun with bungee trampolines, skating rinks and ornament crafting for children. Even the trash cans are dressed merrily for the occasion!
Munich: The neo-Gothic town hall makes a dramatic backdrop for the Marienplatz Christmas market that is believed to date back to the 14th century. Traditional Bavarian music and free flowing libations put everyone in high spirits as the sun slips away late afternoon. And every time the wind picks up, the gigantic Christmas tree sways to the rousing rhythm carousing with revellers.
Berlin: Flanked on either side by the French and German cathedrals, the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market is set up directly in front of the Concert Hall. Known for live shows and gourmet foods, it draws an international mix of tourists. There are Rajasthani jewellery boxes and Tibetan prayer bowls for sale amid traditional wood and wool trimmings. And pictures of American Rapper Snoop Dogg attached to jars soliciting tips at a barbecue stand!
Wiesbaden: The capital of the western state of Hesse in Germany, Wiesbaden is a cosmopolitan town. Flowerlike stars are spread across the Twinkling Star Christmas market at the iconic red, neo-Gothic church. Grab a cup of Feuerzangenbowle — flaming punch made with red wine, rum and caramelised sugar — and find a perch on the Ferris wheel for the best view.
Rudesheim am Rhein: A quaint riverside town Rudesheim offers an intimate setting. Potters and craftsmen from neighbouring areas showcase their wares along the town’s labyrinthine cobblestone pathways. Beeswax products — candles, salves — are popular with locals. Snoozing cats, sentinel dogs, and chickens are part of the festive landscape!
Heidelberg: What could be more picturesque than a 16th century castle in the mist looking upon a bustling market? Christmas ornaments made from cinnamon sticks and star anise lend a sweet warmth to the crisp winter air. Wooden ornaments and statues made in the Black Forest are easy to find here.
Dresden: One of Germany’s most beautiful cities, Dresden has many extravagant markets to offer. The Mittelalter-Weihnacht medieval market in the courtyard of the Royal Palace is a riotous trip into the past. You will see potters, leather workers and wood carvers at work in the dimly light environ, while some men relax in large wooden tubs!
Brussels: The administrative centre of the European Union, Brussels is best known for Belgium beer and chocolate. The city streets are illuminated with suspended chandeliers and modernistic lights —bright colourful balls on trees and along promenades. Virtual reality hubs amid artisanal wares showcase the city’s contemporary aesthetics in a festive setting.