The Best Christmas Markets For The Ultimate White Christmas Experience

Alsace Christmas Market © Colmar Tourisme

Colder weather heralds the return of an age-old annual tradition across Europe. In villages, towns and cities from England to Austria, streets and squares are transformed by Christmas markets. Synonymous with seasonal delicacies, handcrafted gifts and festive fun, these bustling markets are steeped in centuries of history. Dating back to the Late Middle Ages in German-speaking regions of Europe, Christmas markets were originally held in medieval towns to supply locals with crucial provisions for the harsh winter months.

Today’s seasonal markets evoke the spirit of Christmases long ago, and are, for many families, integral to the holiday experience. The French city of Strasbourg is home to Europe’s oldest and largest Christmas markets. Collectively known as Christkindelsmarik,and dating back to 1570, it comprises of thirteen markets with over 300 stalls, with many filling the air with scents of cinnamon and spices.. This magical market offers a unique blend of French and German traditions, which are deeply rooted in the region’s culture. An enormously popular destination in the region, Strasbourg’s Christmas Market attracts around 2 million visitors every year.

Christmas markets are arguably at their most bewitching in the midst of a snowfall. The crunch of snow underfoot, the scent of winter in the air and the contrast of white flakes against twinkling lights and colourful decorations only add to the festive atmosphere. In a recent survey, in fact, nearly 50% of respondents admitted that snow was their favourite thing about the festive season.

With this in mind, researchers at European Waterways set out to find the best European Christmas market to visit for the ultimate White Christmas experience.

Our Methodology

To determine the best European Christmas markets to visit for the ultimate White Christmas experience, we used Statista data and individual research to identify the most popular Christmas markets in Europe. We then used World Weather Online to discover the average days of snowfall and average centimetres of snowfall for each of our market locations.

The European Christmas markets most likely to see snow this Christmas

The European Christmas markets most likely to see snow this Christmas

The Top 20

City Country Average % of Snowfall Days (November/December) Snowfall (cm)
Montbéliard France 39.34 24.4
Salzburg Austria 36.07 35.2
Metz France 32.79 10.7
Basel Switzerland 32.79 10.2
Strasbourg France 32.79 8.8
Valkenburg Netherlands 32.79 6.1
Edinburgh Scotland 32.79 2
Riga Latvia 31.15 13.3
Haguenau France 31.15 10.1
Essen Germany 31.15 6.2
Brussels Belgium 31.15 5.4
Tallinn Estonia 29.51 12.7
Nuremberg Germany 29.51 11.5
Helsinki Finland 29.51 11.3
Gothenburg Sweden 29.51 5.7
Colmar France 27.869 11
Gdansk Poland 27.869 4.8
Krakow Poland 24.59 9.9
Berlin Germany 24.59 6.1
Copenhagen Denmark 24.59 4.4

Montbeliard Christmas Market, France

Situated in France’s Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region, the town of Montbeliard transforms into a haven of festivity during the holiday season. Every year, visitors to the town wander through a labyrinth of more than 100 stalls brimming with arts and crafts and seasonal delights. Montbeliard’s Chateau, constructed during the Renaissance period, provides a stunning backdrop for the Christmas festivities. With charming streets, quaint squares and a vibrant culture, this market is a captivating destination for winter visitors to the region.

In Montbeliard, it typically snows on 39.34% of days over winter. There isare approximately 24.4cm of snowfall. This year, Monbeliard’s Christmas market commences on the 25th of November and closes on the 24th of December.E

Salzburg Christmas Market, Austria

Salzburg, located in Austria, effortlessly marries a rich heritage, breathtaking landscapes and contemporary culture. Celebrated as the birthplace of Mozart and home to the iconic Hohensalzburg Fortress, this city features Baroque architecture, a historic Old Town, and an enchanting Christmas market. A treasure trove of locally produced goods and tasty treats, the origins of this market can be traced all the way back to the 15th century. Salzburg Christmas market also bears host to a vibrant cultural scene, offering live music, performances, and a carefully curated programme of events.

In Salzburg, around 35.2cm of snowfall is recorded each year between November and December. Snow typically falls on 36.07% of days in this period. This year, Salzburg’s Christmas market opens on November 23rd and closes on January 1st. This market even opens on Christmas Day for those searching for the ultimate Christmas experience.

Metz Christmas Market, France

Metz, a city situated in northeastern France, boasts a wonderful Christmas market, recognised to be among the best Christmas markets in France. Metz’s Christmas market is usually located deep within the historic heart of the city and showcases local craftsmanship. For foodies, Metz offers an array of captivating culinary delights at the gourmet food market. Indulge in Mirabelle plums, freshly made gingerbread, and pâté lorrain. With a rich cultural heritage and magnificent architecture, Metz is a must-see destination for Christmas market enthusiasts. A sensory delight, this market hails back to a time-gone-by.

In Montbeliard, it typically snows on about 32.79% of days over winter. There is approximately 10.7cm of snowfall. This year, Monbeliard’s Christmas market commences on the 24th of November and closes on the 30th of December.

Colmar at Christmas
Colmar Christmas market @ ColmarTourisme

Our tips for getting the most out of your Christmas market visit this winter

Make sure to research before you travel

Before travelling, make sure to check the opening and closing dates and times of the markets that you plan to visit. The majority of markets begin in November, but others may not open until December. Smaller markets may only open for a week or a fortnight.

Many travel companies offer Christmas market breaks, which revolve specifically around visiting seasonal markets. At European Waterways, we now offer special Christmas Markets Cruises itineraries, taking travellers to the traditional Christmas markets of Alsace, including to Strasbourg, Colmar and Haguenau.

Avoid the crowds

It’s no surprise that festive markets are typically extremely busy. With this in mind, we recommend arriving early in the day to avoid the crowds. Weekdays are usually quieter than weekends. This is particularly important if you prefer to browse leisurely or want to get clear photographs of the experience.

Step outside of your comfort zone

Immerse yourself in European Christmas market culture. Embrace and participate in local holiday customs, traditions and performances. Make sure to sample local delicacies and seasonal treats.

Prioritise security

Unfortunately, bustling Christmas markets can be hotbeds for pickpocketing and criminal activity. Practice constant vigilance and make sure to keep an eye on your belongings. Consider investing in anti-theft accessories such as a money belt or neck pouch. We recommend using a crossbody bag rather than a rucksack. Avoid displaying valuables and report any suspicious activity.

Christmas Market Cruises in Alsace

European Waterways offer Christmas Markets Cruises to 3 locations featured on the list; Strasbourg, Colmar & Haguenau.

If you’re looking for a festive vacation in a Christmas wonderland, then look no further than a European Waterways Christmas Markets Cruise in the region of Alsace & Lorraine.

This Christmas Market cruise will be hosted on the 12-passenger hotel barge Panache. Limited to only twelve passengers, this luxurious boat is both spacious and exclusive.

To find more information on this, please click here

Christmas markets in Alsace
© Colmar Tourisme

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