Does the thought of braving the big shopping centres this festive season give you the shivers? It doesn’t have to be about battling the crowds on escalators and fighting your way to the escalator. From gingerbread houses to handmade ornaments, there’s something special about gifting a goodie you won’t find anywhere else. Here’s our pick of Christmas markets around the world.
This quaint historical town is just outside of Frankfurt but a world away from the big city. Mainz Cathedral dates back to the 900s and has 1,000 years of historical to bring tourists to the town. The weekend markets take place in its shadow, in the town square, and also draw plenty of visitors. You’ll find everything from fresh eggs to gluten free pretzels at the markets but it’s the Mainz Christmas Fair that’s the showstopper. Held each year from late November until just before Christmas, the fair takes place seven days a week and includes an 11m tall Weihnachtspyramide, German Christmas pyramid, concerts, carols, mulled wine, hot chestnuts and thousands of Christmas lights.
Each year a substantial section of London’s famous park turns into a Winter Wonderland – rides, snowmen, market stalls, beer halls, Santa Land and even an ice rink are open to the public. Entry is free and the festivity lasts until the 4th January, just in case you run into the post-Christmas blues. The 200 market stalls sell everything from personalized gingerbread to handmade jewellery. Kids will love the ice rink – the largest outdoor rink in the UK – and the adults will have fun at the Ice Bar where drinks are served in glasses made out of ice. The Bavarian Great Hall’s free standing wooden structure is a sight to see even if you’re not in the mood for a stein or sausage.
German Christmas Markets pop up all over the country when the festive season kicks in. This market is slightly different to your standard Weihnachtsmarkt – it’s held in the Kleinebremen mine. Used as an iron ore mine up until the 60s, these days the site is a visitor’s centre and is transformed for a weekend of Christmas festivities in December. Stalls selling handmade gifts, gulwhein and sweets are set up inside the tunnels, with a laser light show and candlelight lighting up the tunnels.
Forget chestnuts and mulled wine, this traditional event held in a small French village is all about the turkey. Dating back to the 17th century, the ‘Fête de la Dinde’ turkey procession takes place on the Sunday morning in December. The turkeys are paraded through the town, when spectators are invited to pre-order the main course of Christmas dinner. The region’s Licques turkeys are famous around the country for their quality and are now bred solely for Christmas dinner demand. The event draws plenty of people so be prepared to line the street for a good spot to watch morning procession. Once you’ve picked your turkey, check out the specialty food and wine stalls in the market.
It may not be steeped in hundreds of years of traditions like its European counterparts, but the annual Christmas Lights Spectacular in NSW’s wine region does draw the crowds. The popular event sees more than 1.5million Christmas lights installed within the sprawling grounds. From Cinderella and her castle to the 12 Days of Christmas, these are not your average fairy lights. The gardens also host a jumping castle, Christmas food, concerts, fireworks and a special visit from Santa. Until 26th January