Top EU Christmas Markets to Celebrate the Festive Season in 2023
As snowflakes fall and the air grows colder, Europe comes alive with a festive spirit, transforming every nook into a winter wonderland.
The scent of warm mulled wine wafts through the air as people hold their cups close to keep warm, their breath visible in the cold, creating an atmosphere full of excitement in Christmas markets.
From grand cities adorned with majestic emerald Christmas trees to the cosiest market stalls, European cities offer the most outstanding Christmas markets for your exploration.
To ensure an insightful journey, SchengenVisaInfo.com has put together your ultimate guide to discovering Europe’s finest Christmas markets in 2023.
Budapest proudly holds the top spot as the city with Europe’s Best Christmas Market, having clinched the Best Christmas Market in Europe award for the years 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Under the slogan “Where love takes your hand,” the Advent Basilica returns from November 17 to December 31 for its 12th year.
For families with young ones, the Advent Basilica promises a special treat with a range of activities, including an ice-skating rink that caters to the young and the young at heart, truly embodying the season’s spirit.
The festivities in the main square, St. Stephen’s, start with the main event hosting approximately 120 local artisans, each showcasing their crafts.
For over 50 days, this incredible Budapest spot attracts at least 800,000 visitors annually with its top-notch programs and festive vibes.
Lighting up the city like a fairytale, the Christmas markets in Prague will be open daily from December 2 to January 6, 2024.
The red and green decorated wooden huts, brimming with local handcrafts, wooden toys, candles, and unique gifts that make for wonderful Christmas presents, are scattered throughout Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, but smaller ones can also be found around the city.
While there, you can choose to warm up with mulled wine or ‘svařák,’ as the Czechs call it, and indulge in hot chocolate while immersing yourself in the festive atmosphere near the 25-metre Christmas tree in the Old Town, which lights up every half an hour.
Do not forget to treat yourself to the famous ‘trdelník,’ a sweet pastry baked over an open flame and generously topped with sugar.
Just last year, in 2022, almost 250,000 tourists visited the city during Christmas and New Year’s.
Distinguished as the finest Christmas Fair in Poland, the Gdansk Christmas Markets will kick off its festivities on November 23 and will weave its spell until December 23.
Within the historic heart of Gdansk, the streets will transform into a bustling Christmas town, and the fair will host an impressive 155 stalls, each brimming with unique gifts, delightful decorations, and tasty treats.
Under the motto “Let the Sound of Christmas Ring,” the fair promises concerts, choral performances, and carolling, ensuring you are fully immersed in the festive spirit.
If you decide to pay a visit, do not miss the chance to savour a cup of hot chocolate, a delightful escape from the chilly Polish winter.
Amid the dazzling glow of Christmas lights, the stars gracing Christmas trees, and the sweet scent of Stollen, the traditional German Christmas bread, you are immersed in Dresden Striezelmarkt.
Hosting the largest number of Christmas markets in Eastern Germany, the Striezelmarkt, part of German holiday traditions for an impressive 587 years, this year welcomes visitors from November 29 to December 24.
Stollen claims the spotlight during a dedicated festival, honouring the city’s rich baking traditions, among other exciting events.
Beyond gift shopping and sipping mulled wine in Altmarkt Square, wander the charmingly Baroque-style streets, soaking in the Christmas spirit.
Boasting more than 240 stalls, the Striezelmarkt pulls in more than 2.5 million visitors annually.
Known as the ‘City of Princes,’ Montbéliard charms visitors in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
From November 25 to December 24, the city hosts a German-style Christmas market, a tradition spanning 25 years. With 140 charming stalls brimming with authentic items, the streets come alive with 115,000 twinkling light bulbs.
The air carries mouthwatering scents of local delicacies, including the traditional foie gras, tartes flambées, chocolates, and crêpes.
It is a perfect opportunity to discover last-minute, unique gifts like pottery, hats, and scarves from France.
During Christmas time, the city of Montbeliard joyfully hosts approximately 450,000 visitors every year.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Step into a world of holiday magic as one of the United Kingdom’s grandest and most enchanting Christmas markets transforms Manchester from November 10 to December 22.
Around 300 stalls, each brimming with international culinary delights, unique gifts, and a wide array of beverages, are spread across ten distinct sites offering festive finds.
This year, the market adds a special touch for families, introducing designated areas filled with fun rides and live entertainment. It’s a joyful experience that unfolds just steps away from the awe-inspiring Manchester Cathedral.
For those seeking family-friendly festivities, make your way to Cathedral Gardens, where you will discover an ice rink and funfair, making it just the spot for a day of delightful memories.
One of the market’s shining stars is located in Albert Square, where children can marvel at the giant illuminated Santa Claus.
The Christmas Market in Manchester consistently draws in high numbers of visitors, boasting an impressive annual attendance of around nine million people.
Nestled in the heart of the city’s Old Town at Doma Square, Riga’s Christmas markets make a return and are ready to delight visitors from December 3 to January 7, 2024.
While many Christmas markets offer the familiar scents of mulled wine, cinnamon, ginger, and roasted almonds, what truly sets Riga apart is its unmistakable atmosphere and distinctive vibe with the city’s architectural wonders, vibrant cultural life, and delectable cuisine.
Throughout the Christmas market, on Fridays, you can groove to DJ music, while Saturdays feature enchanting choirs and music ensembles, and lively folk music fills the market on Sundays.
From November 17 to January 6, 2024, the city of Scotland comes alive with a wide array of family-friendly festive activities and events.
The traditional Christmas market unfolds in East Princes Street Gardens, where delights await, from food to clothing and handcrafted crafts.
While there, you can warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and practise your ice skating skills on George Street.
But do not miss the chance to take in the awe-inspiring sight of the big wheel adorned in red for the Christmas season, and for a unique experience, take a ride as it offers a bird ‘ s-eye view of the entire city adorned with festive decorations.
Make sure not to overlook the family-friendly festivities at the Ross Bandstand, and while there, pay a visit to Santa.
With more than two million people attending the Christmas markets each year, the popularity brings economic gains and cultural importance to the city.
Ranked among the top Christmas Markets in Europe, Craiova in Romania offers nothing short of a spectacular experience during the holiday season.
The events kick off on November 17, 2023, with a grand opening show featuring the most prominent artists, known as The Artists Awards, and continue for visitors until January 2, 2024.
Spread across four distinct areas – Mihai Viteazul Square, Old Center, William Shakespeare Square, and Doljana Fountain area – the Christmas Markets dazzle with over a million LED bulbs, Christmas tree decorations, brilliant white lights, and flying lanterns.
Mihai Viteazul Square is a must-visit, offering ice skating, a towering 20-metre Christmas tree, and treats from Christmas Street Food trucks. It is a sensory feast, immersing you in the holiday spirit.
This year, Craiova is all set to welcome over 100,000 visitors for the grand opening of its enchanting Christmas market.
Picture yourself in the heart of Europe’s capital, where Christmas magic takes over the city from late November to early January.
The main Christmas markets, nestled between the Grande-Place, Rue de la Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine, and Marche aux Poissons-Vismet, are the epicentre of the festive enchantment.
Within the winter’s wonderland, an ice skating rink transforms the city into a joyful playground, with carousels and the Ferris wheel lighting up the nights.
As you explore the market stalls, a world of wonders unfolds, offering everything from cosy woollen socks to delightful home decorations.
For those visiting on a weekend, the city has a special treat in store. Concerts, parades, and thrilling events add an extra layer of excitement to your festive journey.
Brussels’ Christmas Market, a beloved celebration in the heart of the city, attracts 3.5 million visitors every year.