It may only be October but hotels, flights and ferries are booking up fast with visitor’s to this year’s Christmas Markets in Europe. I love wandering around the stalls, finding interesting presents for family and friends, sampling mulled wine and other tasty treats. And, being a keen photographer, the markets and Christmas lights make wonderful subjects for my camera. I’m looking forward to photographing Paris come December.
Here at Great Escapes we’ve looked up the dates for some of our favourites to inspire you to do the same.
Belgium’s Christmas Markets
Antwerp, 5th to 27th December 2015
Each year the Groenplaats, Handschoenmarkt, Grote Markt and Suikerrui have a Christmas make-over. A festive atmosphere and music fills the air with many a cup of hot chocolate and glass of Glühwein consumed. There’s also an ice-rink set-up near Goenplaats, although dates vary slightly from the markets. Visit Antwerp.
Bruges, 20th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016
We couldn’t imagine a more picturesque setting for a Christmas market than Bruges. There will be stalls on the Market Square and an ice-rink and stalls on Simon Stevinplein, packed full of crafts, seasonal decorations and tasty things to eat and drink. Visit Bruges.
Brussels, 27th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016
This vibrant Christmas market is held in the heart of the city on Place Sainte-Catherine. The big wheel and the ice rink at Marché aux Poissons will both be back again this year, as well as some 150 stalls. Don’t miss the magical son & lumière illuminations on the Grand-Place. WinterWonders.be. Visit Brussels.
Ghent, 4th December 2015 to 3rd January 2016
Ghent’s city centre with an ice-rink, a giant Ferris wheel and the Christmas market at Konenmarkt transforms in to a winter wonderland each year. Following the success of last year the Castle of the Counts will again be part of the festivities and decorated as a winter castle. VisitGent.be. Visit Ghent.
Hasselt, 14th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016
This cosy winter village offers Flanders’ largest mobile skating rink, the House of Santa Claus and a fun Ferris wheel in Kolonel Dusartplein. For the little ones there is also a small Christmas train. Winterland.be
Leuven, 10th to 20th Dec 2015
One of the oldest Christmas markets in Belgium is held in Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein and Herbert Hooverplein in Leuven. The streets are lit up by candle light and you can enjoy everything from an intimate Christmas concert to tasting sparkling winter beers. Leuven is also home to the largest brewery in world, Stella Artois, which was originally a Christmas beer, brewed for the first time back in 1926. LeuvenseKerstMarkt.com Visit Leuven.
Mechelen, dates TBC
The Christmas market is centred on Grote Markt, City Hall, IJzerenleen and Veemarkt with choirs, food and drink stalls and plenty of ideas for Christmas gifts. Visit Mechelen.
Ypres, 27th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016
The Christmas market in Ypres is growing in reputation and takes place on the Grote Markt in the centre of town each afternoon during this period and all day on Saturday. The Swiss style chalets, together with the popular ice rink will certainly put you in a festive mood. (Closed Mondays). Kerstmarkt-Ieper.be Visit Ypres.
France’s Christmas Markets
Amiens, 27th November to 31st December 2015
Amiens is one of the largest Christmas market in the north of France bringing the magic of Christmas into the heart of the city with fairground rides, an open air ice-rink and an impressive light show at the city’s cathedral throughout December. Visit Amiens.
Arras, 27th November to 30th December 2015
Arras, the town renowned for its tapestries of the late Middle Ages, holds a spectacular Christmas market on the Grand Place with some 60 stalls offering a wide range of arts and crafts and local delicacies. Visit Arras.
Le Touquet, 19th to 31st December 2015
Le Touquet offers a traditional Christmas setting with fables, characters, lights, music and a truly festive atmosphere, with street stalls offering seasonal goods. Visit Le Touquet.
Lille, 18th November to 30th December 2015
The one of the biggest Christmas markets in northern France is held in Lille and attracts nearly a million visitors each year. The Grand Place is transformed by a majestic mix of illuminations and a big wheel which turns majestically to the sound of Christmas carols. Visit Lille.
Paris Christmas Markets and Illuminations, 15th November 2015 to 4th January 2016
What better time to visit the ‘City of Lights’ than at Christmas when the department stores vie with each other for the best Christmas decorations and illuminations and the trees lining the Champs Champs Elysées sparkle with lights. There are numerous Christmas Markets around the city. Visit Paris.
Reims, 20th November to 27th December 2015
You’ll find around 120 stalls at the Christmas market at Reims. Festive foods and gifts, street entertainers, carol singers and magicians all add to the festive atmosphere. Visit Reims.
Other European Christmas Markets
Amsterdam, dates vary
From traditional Dickensian markets capturing the magic of a Victorian Christmas to trendy food festivals you’ll find a range of Christmas markets in Amsterdam itself as well as nearby. In the city itself you’ll find ice rinks surrounded by wooden chalets over flowing with gifts and festive food and drink. iamsterdam.com. Visit Amsterdam.
Cologne, 23rd November to 23rd December 2015
Cologne hosts 7 Christmas markets with the largest located at the Cologne Cathedral, on the Alter Markt, on the Neumarkt and on the Rudolfplatz. The most impressive has to be Cologne Cathedral as it makes such a spectacular backdrop and it’s here you’ll find the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland. Visit Cologne.
Details of markets and festive activities have been provided by local tourist offices and are published by Great Escapes in good faith.
Please note event dates and details are subject to change – please check with our reservations team if you want any further details.
Hotels fill up fast during the Christmas Markets so we would recommend booking early if you would like to travel at this popular time. Call 0845 330 2084 or email holidays@GreatEscapes.co.uk for a quote.