INSPIRATION • September 2018
Gingerbread-scented town squares, yuletide cheer and all the mulled wine you can drink – just some of the reasons, says travel writer Harriet Cooper, why we dream of festive markets
Where: Skansen, Sweden
What: Skansen, an open-air museum showcasing Sweden’s history, does superb seasonal cheer. The historical houses and farmsteads are bedecked, there’s dancing round the tree and the Christmas market offers up an array of tempting treats, plus exquisite Scandinavian decorations and toys.
When: Weekends only, 24 November to 16 December 2018
Where: Tallinn, Estonia
What: If you like gift-buying with a sprinkling of snow, Tallinn has one of the prettiest markets on the map. Usually blanketed in the white stuff at Christmas, the medieval town hall square comes alive with a towering, glowing tree, reindeer, merry-go-rounds and more.
When: 24 November 2018 to 6 January 2019
Where: Brussels, Belgium
What: Go to Winter Wonders and Christmas Market hungry. There are Belgian delicacies at every turn, from sugar-dusted waffles to mountains of chocolate truffles. Work it off with a twirl on the ice rink at Place de la Monnaie, shopping the chalets or soaring above the rooftops on the Ferris wheel.
When: 30 November 2018 to 6 January 2019
Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
What: Get your festive ‘hygge’ on at Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second-oldest entertainment park. Grab a cocoa and wander the pretty stalls, visit Father Christmas in his bazaar and tra-la-la along to the Tivoli Youth Guard orchestra. As darkness falls, 500,000 fairy lights transform the gardens into a glittering wonderworld.
When: 17 November to 31 December 2018
Where: Vienna, Austria
What: Set on the Rathausplatz, with the photogenic town hall as a backdrop, the Wiener Christkindlmärkt is truly magical. With the scent of glühwein hanging in the air, trumpeters playing yuletide classics and wooden booths groaning with handcrafted trinkets and gifts, this is as Christmassy as it comes.
When: 17 November to 26 December 2018
Where: Barcelona, Spain
What: Unlike its European counterparts, which have a German feel, the Fira de Santa Llucía – at the foot of the imposing Gothic cathedral – is distinctly Catalan. Don’t leave without buying a Tió de Nadal, a foot-long log standing on stick legs with a smiling face, which children believe poops out small presents on Christmas Day.
When: 25 November to 23 December 2018