If you think Christmas seems to arrive earlier with every passing year, you’re definitely not alone! Indeed, it can feel like festive decorations replace Halloween decorations in the blink of an eye, and department stores begin piping Christmas carols across every floor the moment November rolls around.
As a result, Christmas lethargy can set in for many of us long before midnight on December 1st even drops. And yet in spite of this, there are some occasions when the ‘earlier the better’ truly does apply at Christmas time, and that’s when it comes to planning a winter trip around a traditional Christmas market!
How to choose the right Christmas market for you
Let’s be honest, some elements of the festive season will continue to delight no matter how early they might appear, and one of them will always be the traditional Christmas market!
Most of us lament the passing of our childhood Christmases, and one of the easiest ways to recapture its spirit is by visiting a Christmas market. Luckily for everyone, there are some truly beautiful festive markets to be found around the world this year.
However, choosing a winter destination with a Christmas market at the helm requires a little forward planning, with focus on size, attractions, and location.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at just some of the most enchanting ones located across numerous cities including Rome, Paris, London and New York!
Christmas and Epiphany Market at the Piazza Navona, Rome
Going to Rome this winter? Be sure to visit the Christmas and Epiphany Market at the Piazza Navona.
Considered one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Italy, visitors to the market can meander through the stalls and soak up the festive atmosphere, while the Fountain of Neptune, the Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Fountain of Moro act as a particular stunning backdrop.
Whether you’re travelling to Rome in the weeks leading up to Christmas or your trip coincides with the beginning of the new year, a leisurely stroll around the Piazza Navona over the festive period is an absolute must.
Indeed, why not make the very most of an evening in the Italian capital by taking a local-led stroll around Rome on our Welcome to Rome tour!
Piazza Santa Croce, Florence
Open between 10am and 10pm from November 23 to December 22, the Christmas market in Piazza Santa Croce is the biggest Christmas market in Florence.
Paying homage to the traditional German market, it boasts archetypal wooden chalets and is replete with an abundance of classic German confectionary. However, that’s not to suggest that the market is without Italian contribution or other international exhibitors, so be sure to check them out too!
The market in Piazza Santa Croce is a veritable winter wonderland – perfect for anyone seeking a classic Christmas moment in Florence this year!
Mercatino di Natale in Piazza Duomo, Milan
Milan becomes a festive wonderland every year, and that is helped in no small part by the Christmas market which is erected in the surrounds of the Duomo of Milan.
For almost one month at the end of the year, visitors to the Mercatino di Natale in Piazza Duomo will have the opportunity to purchase an array of Christmas accoutrements; from baubles and decorations to stockings and cribs.
Its opening ceremony begins with the lighting of the Christmas tree, and with more than 60 eclectic huts to admire, browse and buy from, this market in Milan should be top of your list if a trip to the Lombardy capital is on the horizon this winter!
Campo San Polo,Venice
If you plan to visit Venice this winter and want to get into the spirit of the season, we have the perfect place for you to visit!
The Campo San Polo is the largest piazza in Venice, and in winter it is home to an ice skating rink which is surrounded by a small Christmas market. Let’s be honest, you can’t ask for a more picture-perfect setting than that; quaint, cosy and utterly wholesome!
So, why not preface your festive browsing with a little ice-skating before warming up over a mug of mulled wine?
Read more: 10 of the Best Christmas Markets in Italy
Notre Dame de Paris Christmas Market, Paris
Paris has a number of large Christmas markets, so you’ll certainly be spoiled for choice during your time in the City of Lights this festive season!
However, one which is likely to enchant again and again is the Notre Dame de Paris Christmas Market.
Running between December 13 and 29th this year, this charming market will be a sure-fire hit with anyone interested in the French gastronomy scene, as well as being an absolute must among those who prioritise handmade crafts over mass produced items!
As for the kids? Well, we think the fact that Santa Claus is a regular attendee at this particular market will do much to add to their excitement!
Winter Wonderland, London
Between November 21 2019 and January 5th 2020, Hyde Park in London is the place to be if you’re intent on experiencing Christmas at its most spectacular.
Aside from its opening day when festivities kick off at 4pm, the Winter Wonderland is open every day between 10am and 10pm, and with an array of attractions to choose from and hundreds of stalls to browse from, it’s perfect for families who really want to immerse themselves in the festive spirit.
Word to the wise; the market attracts thousands of visitors, so be prepared for a bustling atmosphere!
Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona
Planning a trip to Barcelona this winter? Heard of the Fira de Santa Llúcia? If not, you certainly will once you arrive in the Spanish city, believe us!
Running from November 29th until December 23rd, the fair, which can be found at Avinguda de la Catedral in the city’s gothic quarter, boasts almost 300 stalls, a nativity scene and an array of activities aimed at children.
From handmade crafts to musical instruments, this market is ideal if you plan to tick names off your Christmas gift list as you go!
Mercado de Navidad de Plaza Mayor, Madrid
Located in the heart of Madrid, most visitors to the city will meander through the Plaza Mayor at least once during their trip, although many visit it frequently over the course of their stay in the Spanish capital.
And as it is considered one of the most alluring squares in the city, it’s no real surprise that the Plaza Mayor plays host to one of the city’s many Christmas markets!
This year’s Mercado de Navidad de Plaza Mayor runs from November 23 to December 31, seven days a week, and is home to more than 100 log cabins, boasting an array of festive goodies!
Winter Village at Bryant Park, New York
Some of the most iconic shots of New York – immortalised forever in cinematic history – have been taken in the depths of winter.
From snow covered sidewalks to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre, it’s no surprise that so many visitors flock to the Big Apple during the festive season.
As a result, the city has some fantastic Christmas markets to explore, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more iconic one than the Winter Village at Bryant Park.
Already open and running until January 5th, the Winter Village is an absolute wonderland for die-hard Christmas devotees. From ice skating rinks and Santa’s corner to a market jam-packed with everything from artwork to artisanal food, the Winter Village is dedicated to all things festive, and is definitely worth a visit if you’re taking in the sights and sounds in the City That Never Sleeps.
Oh, and while you’re recapturing the magic of childhood, why not go one step further and embrace the magic of Disney by taking our Broadway tour!
Celebration in the Oaks, New Orleans
While not a Christmas market in its most traditional sense, the festive spirit doesn’t shine any brighter than during New Orleans’ Celebration in the Oaks.
Currently in its 33rd year, Celebration in the Oaks is running from November 29th this year to January 1st, and is an absolute must-see for any visitor to The Big Easy. Indeed, more than 100,000 people attend the festive event every single year!
Think light installations, think ferris wheels, think big, bright and beautiful because it doesn’t get more magical than Celebration in the Oaks, folks.
Note: Opening times may be subject to change.
by Niamh McClellandView more by Niamh ›
Book a Tour
Pristine Sistine - The Chapel at its Best
Premium Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum Palatine Hill
Rome Food Tour with Pizza-Making, Local Market Tastings
Crypts, Bones Catacombs: Underground Tour of Rome
VIP Doge's Palace Secret Passages Tour
Legendary Venice: St. Mark's Basilica, Terrace Doge's Palace
You May Also Like
November 25, 2011
Italy’s 6 Sweet Christmas Breads: Panettone and Beyond
One of the best Italian Christmas traditions: its breads like pandoro, panforte, and...
December 07, 2011
How to Have an Italian Christmas Meal
Here's how to have an Italian meal on Christmas Eve and New Year's... recipes and photos...
December 14, 2013
Christmas in Venice: Markets, Midnight Mass & Murano Glass
What to know about Christmas in Venice, from Christmas markets to gift shopping to midnight...
November 27, 2013
10 of the Best Christmas Markets in Italy
Christmas markets in Italy are one of our favorite parts of, well, Christmas in Italy! Not only are...
January 04, 2014
Top Italian National Holidays: Christmas, Carnevale & Beyond…
Italy has a lot to celebrate so it’s not surprising that there are lots of Italian national...
November 29, 2019
Christmas gifts for travel lovers: 10 experience gifts they’ll treasure
Be honest; how frequently do you happen upon an item in your home that you'd love to discard, but...