Christmas is coming and with it the words “celebration” and “gifts”. However, you do not have to choose between the two when choosing where the holiday will be. CNN Travel has listed seven destinations that, in addition to having good Christmas celebrations, have options for fairs and shops to buy souvenirs and Christmas gifts.
Check out seven of these cities below:
VIENNA, AUSTRIA – This may be the most traditional destination on the list. The first Christmas market in the Austrian capital was held in 1298 and today the city has more than 20 events to choose from. Few cities immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit like Vienna. First-time tourists should prioritize the Viennese Christmas Market, which takes place in front of the town hall. It runs until Christmas Eve, with 151 stalls serving Christmas drinks to Austrian sausages. There is a huge ice rink to skate and play curling, and reindeer rides for kids.
MONTREAL, CANADA – Now, in the second year, the Grand Christmas Market in Montreal, Canada, is inspired by the biggest holiday events in Europe. Between December 1st and 24th, on the sidewalk of Ste Catherine Street, there will be more than 60 wooden houses selling goods, from winter drinks to Christmas decorations. The market is especially good for children, with a goblin workshop, Santa’s sleigh and an igloo. Although it closes its doors on Christmas Eve, the Grand Christmas Market reopens a week later for the New Year. Local DJs offer entertainment as the clock strikes midnight.
FLORENCE, ITALY – The annual Christmas market in Florence, Italy, runs until December 18 in Piazza Santa Croce. With the Franciscan Basilica providing a backdrop to the 50 stalls, this is the perfect place to shop. The Piazza del Duomo is also worth the visit to the celebration and to see the Christmas tree, which has been lit since December 8, as part of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Krakow, Poland – For those who want a Christmas with snow, Krakow usually takes orders. The city’s Christmas market is held in its main square, the Rynek Glowny, which normally receives a lot of snow during December, making the visit to Poland even more magical than some of the great European names. Hand-painted Christmas tree balls are a local specialty, as are seasoned nuts and cooked sweets. This can be considered one of the most complete Christmas shopping experiences.
BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM – The British city is not the first place you’d expect to find a traditional Christmas market, but bustling Birmingham boasts “the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria.” Held in Victoria Square until December 24, Birmingham has copied European countries with 180 stalls selling everything from jewelry to handmade toys. The big draw, however, is Chris Moose, the singer moose, found outside the entrance of the Council Board of the market, giving things a distinctly British air. There is also the nearby Christmas Craft Market on Centenary Square with 30 stalls selling local beers and British sausages.
BARCELONA, SPAIN – The Fira de Santa Llúcia had its origins in 1786. It began as a one-day event to commemorate the day of Santa Llúcia on December 13, but has since become a three-week Christmas fair. Positioned in front of the Cathedral of Barcelona, the market has about 300 stalls selling from Christmas decorations, trees and Christmas figurines to musical instruments, hand puppets and jewels. The festivities begin on November 24 and run through December 23. The main attraction is a piñata that pours candy and presents.
ZAGREB, CROATIA – Advent in Zagreb, Croatia, has been voted the “best destination in the Christmas market” by users of the Europe Best Destinations travel portal for two consecutive years. Based on the streets surrounding Jelacic Square, the numerous attractions offered include an ice rink, ice sculptures, street food stalls and outdoor music stages. However, the Jolly Christmas Tram is a hard-to-beat attraction. In it, children and adults can cross the center of town accompanied by Santa and his elves.