Six Of The Best: Christmas Markets

Get in the seasonal spirit and take a trip to one of Europe's festive markets. Simone Kane chooses her favourites

1. Winter Wonderland, London

Now in its fifth year, this award-winning Christmas extravaganza opened in London's Hyde Park last Friday.

Part of the royal park has been transformed for festive fun, with a new ice rink as its centrepiece. Wrapped around the Victorian bandstand, this is the largest outdoor rink in the UK, taking 10 days and more than 100,000 litres of water to build. Some 120,000 skaters are expected to take to the ice over the seven-week opening period. Other attractions include the Angel's Christmas Market, a giant observation wheel, Zippo's Circus, and free visits to Santa's Grotto. Open daily until 3 January.

Details: hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

2. Christmas City, Esbjerg

From 25 November, the whole centre of this Danish seaside town comes alive with music, spicy aromas and a Christmas village with small booths selling handmade decorations, local crafts and edible treats. This year, the main Torvet Square will be given over to the biggest ice rink in Denmark with an obstacle course for challenge seekers. On 4 December, the city's Fisheries and Maritime Museum hosts an indoor Christmas market. Take a Denmark Mini Cruise with DFDS Seaways, from £99 for two, including return overnight crossings, en-suite cabin and a day to explore. Departing Harwich on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Details: dfds.co.uk

3. Christmas markets, Helsinki

You'll be spoilt for choice if you head to Finland's first city. The largest festive market is held from 11 December at the Old Student House, where more than 160 vendors offer candles, knitted goods, ceramics, cards, clothes and much more. The St Thomas Christmas market, 8-21 December, will have 120-plus stalls selling handicrafts, baked goodies and other specialities, while the Ornamo Design Market (first two weekends of December) will feature designer goods such as glass, ceramics and jewellery. The Travel Experience has breaks departing 3, 10 and 17 December, for £261 per person, based on two sharing, including return private transfers, two nights in a city-centre hotel, a guided tour with free glass of Glögi, buffet lunch and a handcrafted gift.

Details: travel-experience.net/christmasmarkets.htm

4. Striezelmarkt, Dresden

This atmospheric city on the River Elbe has one of Germany's largest and oldest Christmas markets – it dates back to 1434. It's the place to pick up regional arts and crafts, with more than 230 daintily decorated stalls. Choose from ornaments made by the skilled wood carvers of the Erzgebirge mountain villages, indigo-printed textiles and decorated pottery from Lusatia, and wickerwork, Plauen lace, and paper Advent stars from Herrnhut. Travel with Dertour, which has weekend breaks to Dresden, departing between 25 November and 24 December, from £219 per person, based on two sharing. It includes return flights from Heathrow and two nights' B&B in the Madison Hotel.

Details: dertour.co.uk

5. Marché de Noël, Lyon

Foodies should make a beeline for the culinary capital of France and combine a weekend of Michelin-starred dining with some seasonal shopping. From 29 November to 24 December, Place Carnot is lined with more than 100 colourful wooden chalets, selling arts and crafts from the Rhône-Alpes region and gastronomic goodies that should be a cut above the rest. There are Santa sled rides, children's workshops, puppet theatre and carol singing. During the first weekend of December, you can admire hundreds of Nativity scenes from around the world. Travel with Kirker Holidays get three nights' B&B for the price of two at Grand Hotel des Terreaux, from £589 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Heathrow and return private car transfers.

Details: kirkerholidays.com

6. Hafnarfjordur Christmas Village, Iceland

Just outside Reykjavik is Hafnarfjordur, known as "The Town in the Lava", due to its volcanic location. Its Christmas Village welcomes visitors every weekend in December. Stalls sell locally crafted gifts and seasonal decorations, as well as typical Icelandic gourmet fare, all set to a soundtrack of live music. Watch out for the Yuletide lads – the 13 cheeky Santas reputed to bring presents to good children. Directline Holidays has a two-night break, departing Heathrow on 16 December, for £365 per person, based on two sharing, with B&B.

Details: directlineholidays.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - major leisure brand

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Partner

    £25000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Partner is required to ...

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003