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July 18, 2024

Eight Must-Visit Christmas Markets Worldwide

As the holiday season approaches, cities worldwide transform into winter wonderlands to celebrate. Central to this enchanting atmosphere are Christmas markets, bustling with local craftsmanship, merriment and traditional delights. Any travellers at this time of year, be it around Asia, Europe or the Americas, are struck by the delightful array of seasonal markets to experience. Be sure to add these must-visit destinations to your winter holiday itinerary!

Basel, Switzerland

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In the heart of Basel’s historic Old Town, the Swiss Christmas market unfolds along the charming cobblestone streets. Hundreds of small, rustic wooden chalets beckon visitors to explore a treasure trove of artisanal goods. The market, held in two sections at Barfüsserplatz and Munsterplatz, stands as the largest in Switzerland, boasting a plethora of Christmas spices, decorations, and candles. Culinary treats abound, from world famous waffles to lesser known local bites such as Basel Läckerli and Swiss raclette. The Christmas market is not just about shopping; it is a holistic experience featuring pre-Christmas events, the illuminated stairwell of St. Martin’s tower, and the traditional Basel Wish Book in the inner courtyard of City Hall. Here, residents and tourists can add their Christmas wishes and hopes. The iconic 13-meter high Christmas pyramid on Barfüsserplatz, visible from afar, becomes a popular meeting point in the market where guests can convene and enjoy hot beverages.


New York, USA

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Some of Hollywood’s most quintessential Christmas movies have been set in the Big Apple and rightfully so. The cityscape lends itself wonderfully to the term ‘white Christmas’. With its decorated building exteriors adorned with lights and annual snowfall, the New York City markets only add to the festive environment. There are multiple markets spread alongside primary landmarks. The one at Grand Central Terminal is an indoor market with vendors selling gifts, toys, decorations and clothes. Bryant Park’s ice rink is circled by a number of glass boutiques overlooking the Empire State Building. Alternatively, Union Square’s market features wooden huts that line the streets where you can sip on mulled wine and browse through rows of unique presents for your loved ones.


Prague, Czech Republic

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The Czech capital spares no expense in its Christmas markets located in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, just a few minutes’ walk apart. Old Town Square is a hub of entertainment, featuring live shows, dance performances, and creative workshops. On the other hand, Wenceslas Square entices visitors with handmade gifts and local treats such as klobasa (Czech sausage) and mulled wine. Vendors invite guests to indulge in their traditional winter dishes like fish soup, langoš (flatbreads) topped with cheese, and smoked meat dumplings, and for dessert, trdelník, a chimney cake rolled in cinnamon and sugar, cooked over a grill.


London, United Kingdom

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Perhaps, one of the most well-known Christmas markets across the globe, London’s Winter Wonderland creates quite a spectacle – a force to be reckoned with as far as Christmas markets go! Hyde Park, undergoes a complete makeover each year and transcends traditional markets in sheer scale and grandeur. This year the market includes UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, a circus show, a Ferris wheel offering panoramic views of the lit up city, and a slew of creative activities formerly both old and young to partake in. What takes the cake however, is ‘Bar Ice’, the a creative and skilfully sculpted bar made entirely out of ice and the perfect place to get some drinks when you’re taking a break from exploring Winter Wonderland.


Singapore City, Singapore

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Though fairly new, Singapore’s decade old Christmas market is only growing in recognition. Set against the backdrop of SG’s dynamic cityscape, the four week long Christmas market takes centre stage at Gardens by Bay nature park. The event has been divided into three distinct areas – Supertree Grove, Frosty’s Fairground, and Gingerbread Grove, each with their own set of extravagant Yule-themed sights and activities. They offer fairground rides, a Christmas train and live shows and performances. Like most Christmas markets, Singapore’s too has a ton of family friendly elements that welcome children to enjoy the season, a noteworthy one being a life-sized gingerbread house lit by candy canes.


Dubai, United Arab Emirates  

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During Christmastime, the city of Dubai, in true fashion, transforms into a festive paradise, blending opulence with Arabian charm for an unforgettable Christmas celebration. The annual Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market features a 36 ft-tall tree, seasonal food stalls, and family-friendly activities, creating a lively atmosphere with yuletide tunes and pop-up shops. Ski Dubai offers snowy adventures with Santa meet-and-greets including thrilling slopes, penguin encounters, and a North Pole train for little ones. And, Global Village, adorned with a 22-meter gift-laden tree, adopts a more multicultural approach, hosting diverse festivities with gifts like Turkish lanterns and European jewellery.  

Vancouver, Canada

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French Canadian and German folklore dominates Canada’s Christmas markets, especially in the city of Vancouver. As you wander through the particularly cold Canadian winter, you can indulge in traditional food and beverages such as the German ‘feuerzangenbowle’, a rum-soaked sugarloaf melting in mulled wine, melted Swiss cheese, and baked apples. There is an old fashioned charm to these markets, with the buying and selling of poinsettias and children playing on carousels, all complemented by the sweet sound of gospel choirs and string ensembles. The annual Craft Circle Christmas Market featuring stalls by Canadian artisans – such as woodworkers, glass-blowers, and toymakers – is the perfect place to discover for artistic and special stocking-stuffers.


Tokyo, Japan

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As a region known for its seamless blend of tradition and innovation, Tokyo’s Christmas market has become a cherished fixture in the city’s calendar. Nestled in Hibiya Park, the market transforms into a magical place of traditional stalls, light projections and Christmas trees along with a range of things to do such as ice skating, shopping, and browsing through radiant displays. The 14 meter Christmas pyramid imported from Germany is the pièce de résistance. It is surprising that Christmas is not a national holiday because the air brims with excitement and the city shines just as bright as any market in Europe.

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Zara Flavia Dmello


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