Christmas markets around Europe

Christmas markets around Europe

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Advent in Europe sparkles with Christmas markets full of the holiday cheer.

Every Advent, a special atmosphere grips European cities. Christmas shoppers jostle light-heartedly to strains of Silent Night by choirs. The crisp air redolent of gingerbread, egg punch and fir needles. People gather after work at outdoor Christmas markets and warm up with mulled wine.

The more adventurous head to other cities to soak up the Christmas atmosphere. While the Christmas markets in Dresden and Nuremberg known locally as the Striezelmarkt and Christkindlesmarkt respectively are probably the most famous, many others are charming, too. Here is a small selection for the coming season.

CHIEMSEE: A Christmas market boasting more than 80 exhibitors will be held outside the old Benedictine convent Frauenwoerth on the Fraueninsel, the smaller of the two major islands in the Chiemsee, Bavaria's largest lake. According to the tourism office in Prien, the largest regional town in the Alpine foothills, the Chiemsee Christmas market is the only one in Germany on an island. It will be open from November 28 to 30 and from December 5 to 7

CUXHAVEN: The Christmas market at Ritzebuettel Castle in Cuxhaven, a North Sea port. A light show on the grounds will create an especially festive atmosphere, the organization Cux-Tourismus said. During the market, which runs from November 28 to December 24, Christmas stories will be read aloud daily in the rooms of the castle.

KEMPTEN: The main Christmas market in the Bavarian city of Kempten will be open from November 29 to December 23. Kempten is the largest city in Allgau, a region straddling the southern corners of the German states of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg. The programme, regional tourism officials said, includes daily presentations of gifts by Nikolaus -- a German version of Santa Claus -- and coach rides through Kempten at selected times. On December 15, visitors can watch the creation of an ice sculpture as well as a fire show.



KOBLENZ: Among the highlights of pre-Christmas activities in Koblenz, situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers, are a toboggan run made of artificial snow and guided tours of the city in the local dialect. More than 130 wooden stalls selling seasonal items will be set up at five different spots in the historic city centre. The Christmas Village will be open from November 21 to December 23 -- on December 13 until midnight -- noted Koblenz-Touristik.

RUEDESHEIM: The Rhine River city of Ruedesheim is extending an invitation to its Christmas Market of Nations from November 24 to December 23. Culinary specialties and traditions from different countries will be presented in the historic city centre and the Drosselgasse, a popular lane. In addition, "Europe's biggest Nativity scene" -- with life-size figures -- will be on display on the city's market square.

ULM: The Christmas market in Ulm, on the left bank of the Danube River in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, is held on square outside the city's famous Gothic cathedral and has more than 120 stalls. It runs this year from November 24 to December 22. An exhibition of Nativity scenes from three centuries will be held from November 30 to January 11 in the city's Museum of Bread Culture. In Neu-Ulm, on the opposite side of the river in Bavaria, visitors can get a glimpse of life in the Middle Ages from November 28 to December 21. Local tourism officials said there would be spit-roasted suckling pig, archery exercises, artisans displaying traditional trades such as smithery and candle dipping, and also jugglers and magicians. ,


BELGIUM -- In Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, member countries' Christmas customs and traditions will be on display at the city's Christmas market, open from November 28 to December 28. According to Belgian tourism officials, the market's 240 wooden booths will have everything from Swedish glogg to English Christmas pudding. The Grand Place, as the central market square is known in French, will feature an ice-skating rink, and buildings around the square will be festively illuminated.

NETHERLANDS -- The Christmas market in Valkenburg (, in the southern part of the province of Limburg, is held in an underground grotto and runs from November 14 to December 21, according to the Dutch tourism office. The city of Alkmaar also has special site for its Christmas market, from December 11 to 14: the interior of St. Lawrence's Church, which dates from the 15th century. In addition to the market, there will be an extensive cultural programme.


AUSTRIA -- Two cities in the Austrian state of Tyrol, Kufstein and Landeck, have historic walls as the backdrop for their Christmas markets, Tyrolean tourism representatives said. The market in Kufstein, called the Christkindlmarkt, runs from November 29 to December 22 in the city's fortress. Landeck's Advent in the Castle will be held from December 5 to 8, and festivities will include a large Nativity scene with moving figures and an exhibition of Christmas trees from around the world.


December 3, 2008

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