2019’s Top Five Christmas Markets (and Unusual Places to Stay While You’re There!)
Discover the top 5 Christmas markets in Manchester, Amsterdam, Stockholm and beyond. Enjoy traditional gifts, food, entertainment - and of course, that warm, fuzzy, festive feeling.
There's a lot to be said for Christmas shopping online. You can make your list, then browse and buy in just a few clicks.
We confess, that scenario has the convenience factor in spades. But what about that magical sense of genuine Christmas spirit? It's the cosy feeling that transports you straight back to childhood, when you eagerly awaited Father Christmas' annual visit.
It's the warm, cloves-and-spices scent of mulled wine that fills the wintry air, as you browse handmade gifts and nibble on a mince pie (or two!), to the joyous sound of Christmas songs.
There's nothing quite like a traditional Christmas market to bring out the excited child in you. So why not treat yourself to a generous helping of magic this year, and head off to one of our top five Christmassy locations?
Every one of these captivating markets is sure to make you want to linger, revelling in that wide-eyed, wondrous Christmas atmosphere for just a moment longer. So as an early present to you, we've also featured a local, out-of-the-ordinary place to stay for each one.
Main image: Manchester Christmas Market / © Mark Waugh
Image: Manchester Christmas Market / © Mark Waugh
Stay at: Star Narrowboat Holidays
Manchester's traditional Christmas markets are award-winning, and it shows.
Held at various points around the city (locations include Albert Square, Cathedral Gardens, and King Street), you can expect to visit over 300 Yuletide-themed stalls and chalets as you follow the twinkling market trail.
Not only are you're sure to discover the perfect hand-crafted gift, but you can also munch on mouth-watering Christmas market staples, including Manchester's speciality - bratwurst!
When you're all shopped out, head for the tranquility of Star Narrowboat Holidays, two elegant, individually-styled boats moored on the Bridgewater Canal. Equipped with a solid fuel stove and homely furnishings, the Christmas spirit can live on, long after you've left the market behind.
Image: © Amsterdam.org
Stay at: SWEETS Hotel
Something about Amsterdam just screams "Christmas magic".
Maybe it's the huge Christmas tree on the Dam square, lit by 40,000 LED lights. Perhaps it's the gleaming ice-skating rink at Museumplein, surrounded by hot-chocolate stalls. Or it could be the delicious ‘oliebollen' (a traditional dumpling) served at Rembrandtplein.
The city's famous canals are also illuminated for Christmas, as part of the Amsterdam Light Festival. Browse the unique artworks you'll see along the waterways, then head for one of 28 quirky, two-person suites that make up SWEETS Hotel.
Former bridge keeper's houses dotted at various points along the canals, the suites have been vibrantly transformed by a team of renowned Dutch architects, designers and artists to become, in the words of a SWEETS co-founder, "little architectural eye candies". A perfect treat for Christmas!
Image: Québec City German Christmas Market / © Ville de Québec
Location: Québec City's German Christmas Market
Stay at: Hôtel de Glace
The heart of Old Québec completely transforms in December, to recreate the unmistakable atmosphere of traditional German Christmas markets.
So you can expect jolly visits from Father Christmas, heart-soaring choral singing, plenty of warm, spiced gingerbread...and of course, a sparkling WinterBar! Sit back and enjoy a steaming glass of mulled wine, as the kids head off to experience the magic of the Kindermarkt, a dedicated children's area.
Continue the seasonal fantasy with a stay in the glistening Hôtel de Glace, and pretending you're cast members of Frozen!
Newly constructed each year from fresh ice and snow, Hôtel de Glace is the only hotel of its kind in North America. Filled with artist-created ice furniture and soft, coloured lights, this is a true once-in-a-lifetime stay.
Image: © Anna Yu / AY Images / Skansen
Stay at: Langholmen
A beloved custom since 1903, you'll be enveloped in warmth and tradition at Skansen's Christmas market.
Lasting right up to the New Year's Eve fireworks, this is a market that takes Christmas celebrations seriously! The market square comes alive each year, with a huge Christmas tree to dance around, crackling bonfires, and market stalls bursting with cheeses, handicrafts, and embroidered gifts.
Treat yourselves to some of Skansen's traditional handmade mustard, and if you prefer, you can even make your own gifts in the dedicated Christmas workshop.
You may feel that all that pleasure is criminal - so once you've finished indulging, you can go and get yourselves locked up at Langholmen, a former prison set in the heart of Stockholm. Beautifully refurbished, you can choose from a single, double, family or romantic cell-for-two. (Don't worry, you'll be given a key!)
Image: Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt © www.enrico-verworner.de
Stay at: Huettenpalast
Berlin has to be the number one destination for Christmas Market fans, and the festivities at Gendarmenmarkt promise not to disappoint.
Held at one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin, you can browse artisanal gifts and gaze at the amazing art created by the local painters, stonemasons and photographers. Watch talented craftspeople at work in their dedicated tent, and fire up your own creative spirit at the same time!
With gourmet menus, and entertainment provided by jugglers, fire-eaters and Gospel choirs, Gendarmenmarkt is a Christmas cut above.
Head to Huettenpalast once the festivities are over, the self-titled and impossibly unique Berlin ‘Agency for Everything'. Here you'll find a creative space that features cosy, eclectic accommodation ranging from individually named caravans and hand-built wooden cabins.
Which Christmas Market will you be visiting? Don't forget, you can browse our range of unusual accommodation at any time of year - so why not treat yourself to a well-deserved pre or post-Christmas break?