Karla Courtney discovers three of the world’s most magical Christmas markets
Liseberg Christmas Market, Gothenburg, Sweden
One of the largest and most beautiful markets in Scandinavia is in the Liseberg Amusement Park in Gothenburg, Sweden. Take a reindeer sleigh ride, meet Sami herders from Lapland and stroll among the wooden cabin-style market stalls sampling local treats. There’s even a re-creation of Santa’s House where children can hand deliver their letters and see elves busy at work.
Toronto Christmas Market
Toronto’s Distillery District with refurbished industrial buildings is a national historic site in Canada, now home to year-round festivals and events with fun for the whole family. During the Christmas Market the atmosphere is ethereal – the buildings are strung with beautiful lights and the alleys lined with wooden huts punctuated by traditional-style gas lamps. There are loads of live performances, gifts, food and areas heated with open fires where you can drink your hot chocolate, mulled wine or sample a tasty local brew.
SEE ALSO: Meet the Real Santa in Finnish Lapland
Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco
Since 1970, passionate local performers and historians have banded together to re-create Victorian London from the days of Charles Dickens with elaborate costumes, lighting and furnishings. Sip on hot buttered rum and toddies, or simply enjoy a traditional spot of tea while you take in a live performance or wander the “streets” to try to meet notable people such as Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Ebenezer Scrooge or the Ghost of Jacob Marley. There’s also a Children’s Tour of London that includes a meeting with Father Christmas, a Punch and Judy puppet show, ornament painting and a ride on a carousel.
Heidelberger Weihnachtsmarkt, Germany
All Christmas markets in Germany are amazing. During the month of December every cobblestoned town square across the country is filled with fairy-lit booths serving Glühwein in festive mugs, roasted chestnuts and warm pastries, or selling the most intricate and adorable wooden and blown-glass ornaments. While Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg is the most famous, Heidelberg, located in a valley surrounded by rolling hills on the Neckar River, offers a great atmosphere on a smaller scale. Just one hour south of Frankfurt airport with many easy transfer options via train, coach or private car, it’s a perfect option if you’re on a layover.
Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona
The origins of this market date back to 1786, when stalls first began to set up and sell wares outside the Catedral de Barcelona. Today, more than 280 stalls sell traditional Christmas wares, including some of the most intricate nativity figures and scenes you will ever see. There are also live performances including choirs and local Catalan dance troupes. Barcelona is a perfect European destination for those who want the history minus the cold – average daytime temperatures in December are around 11 degrees Celsius.