Chris Carter wraps up warm and heads off in search of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
“There’s a magical festive feel as I stroll through the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen surrounded by thousands of twinkling fairy lights that light up the dusk like a winter wonderland,” says
Sara Macefield in The Times. It’s a scene straight from the pages of Hans Christian Andersen, an enthusiastic supporter of the theme park when it opened in 1843. Amid the genteel ambience of the Yuletide stalls sits a clutch of classic fairground rides, the oldest being a wooden roller coaster dating from 1914. They may look tame, but you’ll soon find they are just as stomach-churning as their modern-day equivalents. Settle your stomach with a €4 comforting cup of glogg (Denmark’s answer to mulled wine) before browsing the stalls stocked with festive trolls and advent goodies in stylish Danish designs. The Tivoli Gardens is billed as one of the highlights on Saga’s Scandinavian festive markets cruise, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Festive Hamburg cruise from £860 per person, see Saga.co.uk/ocean-cruises
Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market runs until 31 December.
A Bavarian bargain
British revellers on the continent seeking to save money on their glühwein this year should head to Munich. According to the Post Office Money Christmas Markets Report, the Bavarian capital offers the sixth-cheapest festive market in Europe. Riga, in Latvia, is the best priced, while Berlin ranks fourth.
Munich’s main Christmas market is around the Marienplatz, where shoppers will find festive treats and traditional handicrafts. There is also a magical Christmas village in the Residenz and a medieval market on Wittelsbacherplatz. For those suffering from a bout of heimweh (homesickness), “romantics” can take a carriage ride through the English Garden. Or you can do as I did when I visited Munich at the end of October and make a beeline for the famous Hofbräuhaus. A stein (or more properly a Maßkrug) of frothy beer is just the thing to go with the Bavarian suckling pig on offer in the Bräustüberl dining rooms.
Munich Christmas Market runs until 24 December, see Muenchen.de
Warm Croatian cheer
Croatia is perhaps better known for its warm summer weather and its beaches bordering the Adriatic. But it’s also an ideal destination for the festive period, says Anissa Hezzaz in Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper. Zrinjevac, one of the most beautiful public gardens in the capital, Zagreb, is this year playing host to a number of magical attractions, such as shows for children and live music concerts. The Zagreb Christmas Market has been voted the best in Europe by users of website European Best Destinations for the third-year running, notes Cecilia Rodriguez for Forbes. High-quality crafts, a friendly atmosphere, ice-skating rinks and affordable prices – Zagreb has it all.
The Zagreb Christmas Market runs until 6 January, see InfoZagreb.hr