November 26, 2008
From the city where “it wouldn’t be Christmas without carp” to the one where “little plum people” rule the season, read what IgoUgo members have to say about 10 of their favorite European Christmas markets.
wanderlustgirl says: “In the week before Christmas, fishermen dressed in long black leather aprons descend onto Prague's street corners. Mainly from the southern part of the country, these stout men set up huge blue vats of fresh water containing dozens of that ol’ Czech favorite, carp.”
becks says: “The best time to visit is after the onset of darkness when the lights enhance the mood dramatically. It also gets progressively busier as the number of visitors increase after normal businesses start to close. If you love crowds, visit over the weekend.”
Liam Hetherington says: “Krakow. December. Slush fills the gutters. An icy wind sweeps in from the east. Going out without gloves is a recipe for pain. Why visit Poland at this time of year? In two words, 'Christmas markets.’ Krakow has the real deal.”
roby_tijerina says: “A mixture of aromas—from the common glühwein to the sweet, roasted corn with buttercream sauce to the hot chocolate—billows over the golden, illuminated stalls.”
kylebarber says: “Between tables of nutcrackers and evil looking elves, there were some cute trinkets that I thought would make nice souvenirs. More importantly, there were festive Christmas food booths churning out holiday-themed desserts for gluttons like myself.”
MichaelJM says: “Yes, the stallholders are after your money, but here, in Lille, it seemed like they wanted you to be there for your very presence. They were friendly, chatty, even if you didn’t buy from them. And guess what? They all seemed to like us and want to speak with us and share their enthusiasm for their product and the lead-up to Christmas. It was almost a magical experience at Lille's Christmas Market!”
becks says: “A nice feature of this market is that it is not only set up for visitors, but many locals also make an outing here at least once during the Advent season. The mood is wonderful, with locals quite willing to help you order, as the stall attendants speak heavily accented Bavarian.”
Pete Robinson says: “I must say that after a while, all the stalls seemed to look alike (and no, this wasn't the result of too much glühwein), but the range of articles available was amazing—not just tree ornaments but locally made china and glassware, some really nice wooden ornaments and carvings, local cheeses, clothing, chocolate, and wursts of all types!”
anspaug4 says: “There is an amazing variety of things to buy, including handmade books, stained glass, handcrafted toys, chessboards, tablecloths, and the like. The food and drink stalls offer an array of Hungarian specialties: hot mulled wine, sausage, and a pastry called a kürtöskalács.”
mh75 says: “This was my second trip to the Christkindlesmarkt in Nürnberg. My first was in 1999, and to be completely honest, I've thought about that experience every Christmas since then. And after all the buildup, the trip was not a disappointment. The city square is filled with hundreds of booths loaded with different items: food; drink; authentic zweschtenmännle, or little plum people (decorations made from walnuts and plums that are Nürnberg specialties).