Making Spirits Bright: Go Inside 23 Magical Holiday Markets Around the World

Visit Bergen / Robin Strand - visitBergen.com

The most wonderful time of the year is here: City streets are sparkling, festive songs are playing on repeat, and Christmas markets are opening their doors, transporting visitors to snow globe-like whimsical wonderlands that look like pages pulled from a storybook. 

From the “Capital of Christmas” in Europe to unique celebrations in Africa and Asia, there are countless holiday markets across the world that go all out to celebrate the season. Think: massive Christmas trees, trombone concerts, gingerbread homes, and twinkling lights.

So if you’ve been looking for inspiration to add to your travel bucket list, or want to soak up some holiday magic from the comfort of your couch, check out these 23 annual Christmas markets. 

Leipzig Christmas Market | Germany
Dates: Nov. 28-Dec. 23

Krzysztof Baranowski/ Moment via Getty Images

Germany is known for its iconic Christmas markets — and the market in Leipzig is one of the biggest and oldest, dating back to 1458. Located about two hours driving distance from Berlin, the Leipzig Christmas Market checks all of the festive boxes: There are about 250 sparkly stalls, a massive Christmas tree, and trombone performances.

Sip a glühwein (German mulled wine) or non-alcoholic Kinderpunsch, browse the handmade wooden ornaments, and admire the “Magical Forest” light installation. And don’t forget to swing by Santa’s office hours so little ones can share their wish lists. 

Strasbourg Christmas Market | Strasbourg, France
Dates: Nov. 24- Dec. 24

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Dubbed the “Capital of Christmas,” Strasbourg stands out for its exceptional holiday market that attracts more than 2 million visitors each year. Featuring 12 holiday markets in one, the Strasbourg Christmas Market hosts more than 300 stalls spread throughout different streets and squares.   

Christkindelsmärik, France’s oldest market that dates back to 1570, per Eurostar, is nestled by the city’s Place de la Cathédrale and one of the most popular areas for wandering, taking pictures, and eating. We also appreciate OFF Christmas Market for its sustainability-focused holiday experience: The shops offer recycled goods, fairtrade items, and DIY gift-making activities.

Sawdust’s Annual Winter Fantasy Festival | Laguna Beach, United States
Dates: Nov. 17- Dec. 17 (Friday-Sunday only)

For five weekends, beginning in November and ending in December, a pocket of Laguna Beach turns into a twinkly wonderland at Sawdust’s Annual Winter Fantasy Festival. Back for its 33rd year, the Southern California festival goes all out for the holidays with three stages for live music, handcrafted gifts from over 160 artists, and thousands of lights and decorations. 

Spend the day browsing the enchanting stalls, sipping cozy drinks, and visiting Santa, and then hit the sand at one of Laguna’s beaches. 

Distillery Winter Village | Toronto, Canada
Dates: Nov. 16-Dec. 31

Between the Victorian industrial architecture and cobblestone streets, The Distillery Winter Village in Toronto has a uniquely charming backdrop for a holiday market. In addition to the shops, lights, food, and live music, there’s a candy cane forest and 56-foot-tall Christmas tree. And in the spirit of giving back, the winter village has partnered with three local charities

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market | Yokohama, Japan
Dates: Nov. 24-Dec. 25

 
 
 
 
 
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Inspired by the markets in Germany, the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse combines a range of German food with classic decorations, including a Christmas tree and stunning light displays. The sparkly wonderland also features shops and an “Illumination Garden,” designed to make you feel like you’re “spending Christmas with the animals in the forest.” 

International Christmas Market Essen | Essen, Germany
Dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 23

Awarded the 2023 best Christmas market in Germany by European Best Destinations, the International Christmas Market Essen offers all the charm of a German Christmas market with a global twist. The market features over 250 stalls with goods from 20 countries, a twinkly canopy above the main square, a baroque carousel, and light displays. 

Best of all, the market incorporates various sustainability efforts, such as using only “green electricity” and emphasizing fair trade and organic products.

Christmasland | New Taipei City, Taiwan
Dates: Nov. 17-Jan. 1

Tourism and Travel Department, New Taipei City Government
Tourism and Travel Department, New Taipei City Government
Tourism and Travel Department, New Taipei City Government
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Since 2011, New Taipei City has embraced the holiday season with Christmasland: a celebration filled with classic decorations and food that draws millions of visitors. This year’s festivities include a German Christmas party, an eco-friendly treasure hunt, and caroling, along with pop-up shops and a light-filled concert. 

Christmas in Tivoli Gardens | Copenhagen, Denmark
Dates: Nov. 19-Dec. 31 

Courtesy of Tivoli Gardens
Courtesy of Tivoli Gardens
Courtesy of Tivoli Gardens
Courtesy of Tivoli Gardens
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Copenhagen is known for a hygge atmosphere year-round, but it gets even cozier and more cheerful during Christmastime. Tivoli Gardens, a 19th century amusement park, gets especially festive with twinkling illuminations, stalls with Christmas goodies, and Danish sweet treats, like gingerbread hearts, pancakes, marzipan, and rice pudding. 

The H.C. Andersen Christmas Market is also a must-visit for literature lovers. All the stalls are named after Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales — and there’s no shortage of lights, decorations, and activities for children and adults to soak up the holiday spirit. 

Christkindlmarket | Chicago, United States
Dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 24 (Chicago and Aurora) and Nov. 17-Dec. 31 (Wrigleyville)

Eric James Walsh
Eric James Walsh
Eric James Walsh
Eric James Walsh
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The atmosphere is oh-so-joyful at Christkindlmarket in Chicago. In fact, the market — inspired by the 16th century Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany — is such a holiday hit that there are three locations in the metropolitan area: Wrigleyville, Chicago, and Aurora. We’re partial to the Wrigleyville market for its unique baseball stadium setting, but all abound with picture-perfect lights, storybook-like decor, and touches of red and green. 

The inaugural event took place on Pioneer Court in 1996 and moved to Daley Plaza in 1997. Since then, it has “grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions for locals and tourists alike.”

Franschhoek Village Christmas Market | Franschhoek, South Africa 
Dates: Dec. 15-17

It may not be winter in South Africa during Christmastime, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the holiday cheer. In Franschhoek, known as Cape’s French Corner, you can celebrate all things festive at the annual Franschhoek Village Christmas Market. For three days, attendees will experience Christmas-inspired food, drinks, and artisan goods paired with wines from the Franschhoek surroundings.

The market, managed by a mom-and-daughter team, gathers more than 100 hand-picked traders who offer everything from vintage clothing and antiques to coffee and beer, so it’s a one-stop shop for grabbing gifts for everyone on your list (including you).

Good Food & Wine Show Christmas Market | Sydney, Australia
Dates: Nov. 17-19

 
 
 
 
 
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As the name suggests, The Good Food & Wine Show Christmas Market brings together artisan food and wine plus an array of curated gifts for a festive-meets-foodie celebration. The inaugural event was held last year in Melbourne and organizers are setting up shop in Sydney for the 2023 iteration. This year’s lineup features more than 100 small producers and a calendar of events — from gingerbread house-making tutorials to “festive fizz” wine tastings. Cheers! 

Bergen Christmas Market | Bergen, Norway
Dates: Dec. 1-Dec 22

Visit Bergen / Robin Strand – visitBergen.com

Bergen pulls out all the stops for Christmas. The Norwegian city is not only home to the “world’s largest gingerbread town” (Pepperkakebyen), but the Bergen Christmas Market is held right in the heart of the city with delicious treats, handmade gifts, and bright decorations that look like a scene straight from a postcard. 

Ride the ferris wheel, wander the Christmas stalls, and admire the Christmas tree; there’s something merry and magical in every corner. 

Winter Wonders | Brussels, Belgium
Dates: Nov. 24-Dec. 31

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Belgium is a sight to behold during Christmastime, filling TikTok feeds with videos of bright markets and decorations galore.  While there are many holiday markets to explore, Winter Wonders in Brussels is one of the most beloved, sharing the Christmas spirit with about 2.5 million visitors.  

From an ice skating rink and ferris wheel to concerts and shops brimming with unique finds — Winter Wonders is filled with wintry activities and holiday magic. 

Union Square Holiday Market | New York City, United States
Dates: Nov. 16-Dec. 24

There’s a special magic in New York City during the holidays, from the city streets decked out in decorations and stunning window displays down Fifth Avenue to Rockefeller Center’s massive Christmas tree. And when it comes to shopping, the Union Square Holiday Market is particularly packed with stalls of unique gifts for pet parents, chocolate lovers, bookworms, kiddos, and everyone in between. When you’re not scooping up stocking stuffers, be sure to scope out the notoriously delicious sweet and savory treats. Hoping to extend the festivities post-shopping? Make your way to Rolf’s, a German restaurant that explodes with Christmas decor to complete your holiday experience. 

Looking for even more Christmas market magic taking place across the globe? Check out nine more must-visit destinations: 

Dresdner Striezelmarkt | Germany

Christmas in Covent Garden | London, England

Bryant Park Winter Village | New York, New York

Galway Christmas Market | Galway, Ireland

Wroclaw Christmas Market | Wrocław, Poland

Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Helsinki Christmas Market | Helsinki, Finland

Dorit Salutskij

Christkindlimarkt Zurich | Zürich, Switzerland

Krakow Christmas Market |  Krakow, Poland

Carmel Christkindlmarkt | Carmel, Indiana