It’s that time of year—the time when Christmas cookies begin to fill kitchens, wrapping paper takes over the den, and an aromatic tree goes up in the living room. No less festive are the joyous Christmas markets that pop up all over the world. Each of these world-class markets has its own touch of culture and charm, and each is unique in its own way. Here is a list of some of the biggest and best Christmas markets in the world and what you can expect to find there.
1 Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, Michigan
Known as the largest Christmas store in the world, Bronner’s is one of the largest tourism draws in Michigan, especially during the holiday season. If you visit after Thanksgiving, you’ll find this jaw-dropping emporium busting with shoppers from all corners of the nation. Like the rest of the town of Frankenmuth, which is known as “Little Bavaria,” the store is built in a charming Alpine style. There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit!
2 Striezelmarkt, Germany
This is actually a one of a conglomerate of 11 different Christmas street markets. Explore all the vintage delights of Christmas: candies, snacks, cold-weather outfits, and more snacks. Take a whirl on the carousel, or see the city from the Ferris wheel. There are even traditional Christmas performances! This is a celebration of everything that Germans (and the rest of us!) love about Christmas. Did somebody say “strudel?”
3 Strasbourg Christmas Market, France
Christkindelsmärik is France’s largest Christmas market. In the center of the fair rises a 100-foot Christmas tree, which makes the booths and shoppers seem to be miniatures by comparison. For 38 days, the scent of wine and spices warms the cold town, inviting the Christmas season’s glowing spirit into the snowy landscape. Besides food and drink, you can find gifts galore available for sale next to handmade Christmas decorations.
4 Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco
Step back in time to the storybook setting of Charles Dickens’ Christmas books. Come dressed in your Victorian best to what you will almost certainly swear is truly the London town. You can shop the fascinating markets, dine on scrumptious British Christmas delicacies, and meet all your favorite Dickens characters, from Ebenezer Scrooge to Father Christmas. This fair will whisk you back to your childhood and the days that Christmas seemed just like magic!
5 Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, Denmark
Right in the middle of Copenhagen, you’ll find the Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market flowing with light and color. It’s a flame of warmth and cheer in a bitterly cold winterscape—one you can’t miss if you’re in the city during the holidays. Unlike many other markets, the products at the market’s booths are unique and charming. You won’t find your usual nick-knacks here! Don’t forget to take a ride at the amusement park. Be aware, however, that like most things in Denmark, the market is very expensive.
6 Fira de Santa Llucia. Barcelona
Join the throngs filling the streets of beautiful Barcelona at the Fira de Santa Llucia Christmas Fair! Stalls fill the air with Christmas scents as cinnamon, candles, pinecones, and evergreen wreaths are displayed by vendors and purchased by the thousands of merrymakers at the fairs. Creative ornaments, nativity figurines, and sprigs of holly catch the eyes of gift shoppers and decorators alike. This is what Christmas in Spain looks like!
7 Toronto Christmas Market, Ontario
Toronto is a fabulous city, and its holiday market is no less incredible. This market is more spread out and less crowded than many other markets of international acclaim, which makes this the perfect place to get in the Christmas spirit if you enjoy browsing without close crowding. The market is lit up by thousands of twinkling lights, welcoming the Spirit of the Season to Canada and the North. Enjoy shows, singalongs, shopping, food, and fun as the first hints of snowfall begin to flirt with the skies.
Winter travel can be a great change of pace from your typical summertime vacations that can sometimes seem like an endurance test. So check out these charming Christmas Markets to get in the holiday spirit, maybe warm up with some spiced wine, and pick up unique keepsakes and gifts that will bring joy and fond memories year after year.