Wednesday, December 23, 2009

European Christmas Markets


‘Tis the season for the charming Christmas markets of Europe

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From late November through early January, Christmas markets appear throughout Europe from Austria to Switzerland. You’ll find the 30-something crowd meeting after work at local Christmas markets for a hot cup of glühwein, a German-style spiced wine or vin chaud, the equivalent in France - a winter happy hour. If you are planning travel to Europe in December, be sure to spend an afternoon like the locals do, at a traditional Christmas market.

Salzburg, Austria The stunning setting is what sets the Salzberg Christmas Market apart from the rest.  The city is absolutely gorgeous under a blanket of snow. After a visit to the central Christmas Market, join locals in a beer hall for a warm, communal meal and a huge mug of traditional beer. 

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Vienna, Austria The Vienna Christmas market is the largest in Austria.  This spectacular city also offers great shopping, the famous Opera House and excellent cafes where you can sample the original Opera Cake from where it was invented.

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Schönbrunn, Austria  
The most regal Christmas market can be found at the Schönbrunn Palace in Austria, a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural site.  Be sure to arrive before the closing of the palace for a tour and enjoy a concert (check schedules). 

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Lille, France
When it comes to Christmas markets, this one is on the small side with only about 80 stalls in Place Rihour. A day trip from Paris, Lille feels like a quiet town but boasts a number of wonderful restaurants specializing in local oysters. Plus, since the Christmas market won’t take up your entire day, it leaves time to explore the town.

Getting in the holiday spirit yet? It's hard not to after a visit to any one of the traditional Christmas markets across Europe. Joyeux Noel, Frohe Weihnachten and Merry Christmas!