Strasbourg deems itself to be the doyenne of the festive season when it comes to availing shoppers with pertinent, authentic gifts for placing under your beautifully-decorated tree. Due to open on the 26th November, continuing on through to 31st December, this event began circa 1570 and has always been centered in front of the cathedral. There are around 300 chalets to wander around. Gaze at the beautiful Christmas tree on Place Kléber and show off your ice-skating prowess at the Place du Château. Head across to La Petite France; a must-see if you love original architecture and gingerbread. That’s my bag packed, then.
Lille, in northern France, is surely one of the most convenient destinations for Britons. At around a mere 80 minutes on Eurostar, this market is worthy of a visit. It kicks off in style on the 21st November, complete with Ferris wheel and 18 m high tree. It is necessary to check opening dates as they can be subject to change.
Nicholas Market in Kaufinger Strasse, as it was known in 1642 onwards, set the standard for a modern-day Munich Christmas atmosphere. Wood carvings from Oberammergau, Lebkuchen (gingerbread) from Nuremburg and delicate glassware from the Bavarian Forest have been the staple vendor’s ware ever since. Sweet notes of the alpine concert drift over the scene from the town hall’s balcony and the children, aged 6 -12 will love the ‘Heavenly Workshop’. With free entrance, your family will be entertained by professional instructors and artists as they participate in arts, crafts and baking. This really is a Kodak moment as your children can be cocooned in angel wings and gowns for the duration of their playtime. There are 20 more markets dotted around the city just in case you do not fulfil your list on this one.
The city of Düsseldorf is not to be outdone with its fantastic Christmas light displays at the Little Star Market, Stadtbrückchen. Königsallee will seduce visitors with the illumination of the majestic chestnut trees lining the boulevard with Schadowplatz offering some superb family entertainment. Christmas market breaks abound online. Planning a shopping foray onto the continent may be made less confusing by making a short list of what your expectations are. Some folk go for all the glitz of a modern Christmas whilst others may enjoy the simplicity of a village market.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Head north to Denmark with your wish list for the family in hand and have fun whilst filling those big red stockings for them. Tivoli Gardens will be transformed for the month; expect pixies to come out and play amongst the stalls whilst sampling some Nordic delicacies. The Crazy Christmas Cabaret will entertain visitors again this year and the annual fireworks festival is the usual attention-grabber from the 26th-30th Of December. Christmas flights to Holland are popular for those of you wishing to celebrate Christmas in true Dutch style. Valkenburg’s Velvet Cave will play host to Santa this year; show the kids his reindeer and sleigh, while you admire the beautiful murals along the way. This underground setting, the largest in Europe, offers visitors a unique Christmas market atmosphere. Don’t worry about claustrophobia here as it is very spacious.