My Top 5 European Christmas Markets!

Christmas is approaching and with that comes warm fuzzy feelings and festive Christmas Markets! I have been very lucky to experience Christmas markets in different countries in Europe and I am sharing my favourite ones with you today! Here are photo diaries to give you a little taster of what Christmas in these cities have to offer…

1. Brussels, Belgium

I have visited Brussels twice, once in the summer and once a few weeks before Christmas and I absolutely loved it at Christmas! It was like stepping off the plane into a winter wonderland.

When it is on:

29th Nov – 5th Jan

What to expect:

The whole city is covered in Christmas markets. There is every flavour of mulled wine (gluhwein) you could imagine, with amaretto, rum, jagermeister! Belgium is the home of chocolate and beer and you should sample both! There is a light show at the Grand Place and the year I was there, the biggest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen filled the middle of the square. It was sponsored by the ‘Make a wish’ foundation and you could donate money to get a star to write a wish on and put on the tree. I still remember reading all the wishes in different languages and feeling how special it was. I will always remember that special Christmas in Brussels.


Read more at: Brussels Christmas Market Website

2. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh was my home for years so it has a special place in my heart, but it is truly special at Christmas!

When it is on:

16th Nov – 4th Jan

What to expect:

Ice skating, bagpipes, baileys coffee, amazing food and drinks, views of the castle! Don’t miss the markets at Princes Street Gardens and at George Street – The Dome is a favourite of mine because the Christmas decorations are magical!


Read more at: Edinburgh Christmas Market Website

3. Dusseldorf, Germany

Germany, the home of the German Christmas Markets! I am so glad I got to experience the Christmas markets there, it was one of my favourite!

When it is on:

21st Nov – 30th Dec

What to expect:

The food was simply incredible and like nowhere else I’ve been! Such a great place to take in the Christmas markets!


Read more at: Dusseldorf Christmas Market Website

4. Manchester, England

Manchester is a great Christmas Market, definitely worth a visit!

When it is on:

8th Nov – 22nd Dec

What to expect:

Great food, drink, live music, Christmas dinners in Yorkshire puddings!


Read more at: Manchester Christmas Market Website


5. Barcelona

When it is on:

End of Nov – 23rd Dec

What to expect:

Barcelona does not have traditional Christmas markets like you would find in Germany and many places in Europe… Don’t go expecting to find mulled wine and food. However they have their own traditions which you will only find in Catalunya. You might not believe them til you see them! I don’t think I could explain it any better than the Barcelona Life website so this is taken from there:

Tio de Nadal

The Tio de Nadal (Christmas log in Catalan) or more commonly the Caga Tió (sh*tting log!) is just one of the region’s scatalogical oddities which is destined to amuse visitors for as long as the tradition survives. According to custom, a hollow log (usually about a foot long) is painted with a smiley face and put in the family home on the 8th December.

The children of the family are then tasked with feeding the Tio a little bit of food and drink every day in the build up to Christmas. Then, finally either on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, the children beat the log with sticks and sing the following song:

Caga tió, caga torró, avellanes i mató, si no cagues bé et daré un cop de bastó. Caga tió

Which roughly translates to:

Sh*t log, sh*t nougats, hazelnuts and mató cheese, if you don’t sh*t well, I’ll hit you with a stick. Sh*t, log.

After the kids have given this verse a gleeful rendition, and smacked the poor branch good and proper, they should discover that some presents have magically appeared from the hollow of the log! In many ways its the Catalan equivalent of Santa filling good childrens’ stockings. Travellers will find a giant Tio de Nadal in Plaça Nova just by the main Santa Llucia market

The other tradition which you will only find in the Christmas markets is that of the Caganer:

The Caganer is a cheeky chap to say the least, because in the middle of the holy nativity scene he sees fit to drop his peasant’s breeches and relieve his bowels in the presence of the newborn Jesus and the Virgin Mother.

This however is not considered profane in Catalonia, rather it recalls pagan rituals of fertilising the soil and is considered good luck! Such is his cult status in Catalonia that you will find little statuettes of this peasant, usually squatting over his steaming new oeuvre d’art, on sale at all the Christmas markets. In fact you’ll also find celebrity versions of him for sale, in the likeness of Messi, Barack Obama, Bart Simpson, Donald Trump… you name it!

Both amazing traditions which I have never seen anywhere else in Europe so I think they are so special!


Photos taken at El Nacional & my old street in Barceloneta!

Read more at: Barcelona Life Website


Bonus tip!!!

Not Europe but last year I was so lucky to experience the festive season in New York, USA! It was absolutely incredible and just brings so many memories of Home alone 2! Spots to visit: New York City Public Library, Rockafeller Center, Bryant Park and do not forget to take a trip to DYKER HEIGHTS in Brooklyn where you will find the biggest display of Christmas lights in the world! (Not sure if this is a fact haha but it felt like it). I have never seen anything like it and I think it will warm the hearts of everyone who witnesses it! A once in a lifetime experience and I think everyone should experience it in their lifetime!



I hope you have enjoyed my top spots to experience the Christmas Markets in Europe and beyond…

Please comment below with your favourite Christmas markets!

Love, at Christmas,

The Wee Wanderer x x

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