With November already in full swing and Christmas just around the corner, it's time to grab your suitcase and get ready for mulled wine, festive decorations, and all the gingerbread you can eat. Take a look at these eight magical Christmas markets around the world.
Christkindlmarket has been held in Chicago every year since 1996. This American holiday market honors German and European traditions dating back to the 16th century. Come to the open-air market for hot cider, roasted nuts, and more cold weather treats. And be sure to pick up a Christkindlmarket mug — something many Chicagoans collect as an annual tradition. The market first started in the heart of the city at Daley Plaza, but now it has locations at the Park at Wrigley and the suburb of Naperville. You can visit any of the three locations from November 17 until December 24.
Dresden Striezelmarkt, or the Dresden Christmas Market, is named for a delicious German Christmas cake, traditionally known as “striezel.” The first Dresden Striezelmarkt was held in 1434, making it one of the oldest markets in Germany. Wander through the bright lights of Altmarkt Square in Dresden and soak up the holiday cheer. Browse the stalls for handmade gifts, stop by the towering Christmas pyramid, and make sure you try a piece of the market’s namesake cake while you are there. The market opens at the end of November and runs through Christmas Eve.
Hong Kong Winterfest
Europe usually gets most of the credit for the world’s grandest Christmas markets, but Hong Kong Winterfest is not to be missed. This month-long jubilee starts on December 1 and goes until January 1. The Statue Square Christmas Tree is the centerpiece of this brightly lit festival. Along with plenty of shopping and dining options, Hong Kong Winterfest puts on two different light shows: A Symphony of Lights and the Hong Kong Pulse Light Show.
Plaza Mayor Christmas Market
Madrid’s Plaza Mayor Christmas Market has more than 100 booths bursting with holiday cheer. From November 24 to December 31, you can wander through stalls selling savory dishes and sweet desserts. Each stand has a triangular roof painted for the holiday season. Eat your fill as you walk through the sprawling Plaza Mayor hunting for the perfect gifts.
Tallinn Christmas Market
The Tallinn Christmas Market is held each year in the town hall square of Tallinn, Estonia. A winter wonderland with a merry-go-round, thousands of twinkling lights, and the aroma of delicious food and drink, it's also home to a huge Christmas tree in its center — the first of which was brought to the town square in 1441 — and which will, this year, be decorated with cheery red and gold ornaments. The Tallinn Christmas Market 2017 opening ceremony will be held on November 17 and you will be able to explore the market every day until January 6.
The Toronto Christmas Market will be held from November 16 to December 23 this year. When you want to duck out of the cold, step into one of the festival’s many beer gardens for mulled wine, hot toddies, beer, holiday cocktails, and more. In addition to all you can eat and drink, the market also has live music performances and Christmas caroling. As you wander through the cheerily lit market checking items off your shopping list, you will be surrounded by festive decorations and endless holiday cheer.
Viennese Christmas Dream
The Viennese Christmas Dream lives up to its name and then some. This traditional Austrian market is held in Rathausplatz, Vienna’s town hall square, from November 17 to December 26. This winter dream has an ice skating rink and more than 150 different stalls selling everything you could hope for during the Christmas season. The Viennese Christmas Dream also has an entire Christmas World complete with sleigh rides, a Ferris wheel, and a reindeer train.
Winter Wonderland London
Hyde Park, one of London’s royal parks, hosts the Winter Wonderland festival each year. The sprawling park, which covers more than 300 acres, is a great place to see a live show, like Cinderella on Ice or Zippos Christmas Circus, or release some adrenaline on one of its 100 rides. When you are ready to shop, Winter Wonderland’s market also has more than 200 stalls selling handmade jewelry, crafts, food, and drink. The annual festival will run from November 17 to January 1.