In my travels in Europe I have enjoyed many Christmas markets held this time of the year. Over the years, I've developed a list of my favorites. Here are mine -
This is my all time favorite Christmas market and it's one of the oldest, if not THE oldest one of all - 2018 marks the 584th year it's been held. Located in the Altmarkt in central Dresden, it has the most local & social, and least commercial, feel of all the Christmas markets I've been to. Local crafts, many Dresden bakeries (specializing in Dresden Christstollen), Saxon food and hot Glühwein, a gigantic Advent calendar fronting a fairy tale castle that serves as a puppet theater to entertain the kids, rides - and the tallest Christmas pyramid in the world (at 14m/50' tall). People come here nightly just to hang out with friends, entertain the kids, enjoy the atmosphere and the food. And the Gewandhaus Dresden (an Autograph Hotel) - one of my favorite Marriott properties - is only one block from the market!
The Dresden Christmas Arch ... at 45'x16' the largest in the world
Dresden Striezelmarkt - some vendors and one of the rides
Dresden Striezelmarkt with 50' Erzgebirge Christmas Pyramid (left center) and Kreuzkirche (in background)
Dresden Striezelmarkt Puppet Theater and Advent Calendar
Stephansplatz Christmas Market, Vienna, Austria
There are at least a dozen Christmas markets in Vienna, ranging from tiny & romantic to enormous & commercial. My favorite Christmas market in Vienna adjoins the Stephansdom cathedral. The booths wrap around one side and back of the Stephansdom, which is lit up nightly in Christmas colors. Horse-drawn carriages are available on the opposite side of the Stephansdom if you're interested in a bit of low-key nostalgia to go with your shopping. This is a small market, with emphasis on local handmade & painted ornaments in wood, metal, paper and glass mixed in with a nice selection of food stands. I had a great time talking with the two women who had a stand full of beautifully painted pewter Christmas figures. The Haas & Haas confectionery & tea store is also just around the back of the Stephansdom and no trip to the Christmas market would be complete without a peek into the store or afternoon tea in the tea room. I stayed at the Renaissance Wien during this trip.
Stephansplatz Christkindlesmarkt, Vienna, Austria
Some of the wood Christmas ornaments at the Stephansplatz. Much emphasis on creche figures here.
Beautifully painted pewter figures. Perfect to go with a traditional Christmas yard underneath a Christmas tree!
I have also enjoyed these Christmas markets. More about them later.