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Christmas Markets: Discover the holiday magic

Discover the magic of the season at the Christmas Markets
Waheeda Harris
Written by Waheeda Harris

Want to discover the true magic of Christmas? Banish thoughts of Scrooge by embracing the seasonal tradition of Europe with the annual Christmas Markets. Providing a convivial atmosphere for locals and visitors to get into the holiday spirit to shop, meet friends, savour local cuisine and listen to the traditional songs of the season, the Christmas Markets are sure to banish any Grinch-like thoughts.

Now found on both sides of the Atlantic, Christmas markets are more than just a source of gift, but definitely a place that will encourage a merry holiday mood. Here’s a list of markets to consider from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Canada, and the US:

Munich

Marienplatz market

Image courtesy of Waheeda Hariis

In a city better known for BMW and Oktoberfest, the city’s oldest Christkindlmarkt dates back to the 14th century in the Marienplatz, held in the shadow of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. Traditional Christmas ornaments handcrafted in wood or glass tempt as much as the sizzle of sausages and sauerkraut or the unmistakable scent of gluhwein, the traditional drink of market, and a welcome hot drink to encourage more wandering below the pretty white lights and to listen to the Bavarian folk music.

For more information on Christmas markets in Munich, click here.

Vienna

vienna christmas market

Image courtesy of Waheeda Harris

With a soundtrack of Mozart and Strauss, the largest Christkindlmarkt of the Austrian capital is found in the plaza and gardens in front of city hall, aka the Rathaus, which is lit up with endless array of lights. The garden’s trees are dressed in lights, and the many rows of vendors offer tempting Christmas décor of Santa, snowflake and star ornaments, as well as mugs of apfelwine aka warm apple cider, sausage, potato pancakes and roasted chestnuts to easily withstand the cool evening temperatures.

For more information on Christmas markets in Vienna, click here.

Budapest

Budapest

Image courtesy of Waheeda Harris

A shopper’s delight leads the holiday faithful from the traditional ornament and Hungarian craft markets of Vorosmarty Square into the Fashion Street, where holiday décor vies for attention beneath the sparkly lights for gifts, handcrafts, art and clothing. Head from here into the newer market at St. Stephen’s Basilica, where bread bowls filled with paprika-laden gulyas or langos, fried bread topped with sour cream, cheese, bacon and red onions are the fuel to keep shopping for Christmas gifts and decorations.

For more information on Christmas markets in Budapest, click here.

Toronto

Toronto Christmas Market

Image courtesy of the Toronto Christmas Market

Found within the historic downtown Distillery District, the Toronto Christmas Market brings in local artisans to offer unique gifts and food items to tempt shoppers, while district businesses lure visitors with holiday specials (don’t miss a visit to chocolate shop, SOMA). Daily concerts with dance and choirs add to the festive mood of the market, as does the beer gardens, offering the district’s Mill Street craft beers, gluhwein and hot toddies and stands selling wienerschnitzel and Oktoberfest sausage.

For more information on the Toronto Christmas Market, click here.

Chicago

Christkindlmarket Chicago

Image courtesy of the Christkindlmarket Chicago

One of the oldest Christkindlmarkt’s of America is found in this Midwest city, where for over 20 years, over one million have made tracks for Daley Plaza to shop, meet friends and see Christkind, the fairy of the market. With activities for kids and a life size advent calendar, there’s also an endless array of gifts and ornaments as well as the new this year: Ciderhaus, with four options of apple cider and baked cheese on a stick.

For more information on the Christkindlmarket Chicago, click here.

Happy Holidays!

About the author

Waheeda Harris

Waheeda Harris

Waheeda Harris is a Toronto-based freelance journalist with a penchant for exploring our planet.

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