You don't have to celebrate Christmas to appreciate the charming markets that pop up around the world this time of the year. The colorful gatherings make for fine reasons to get on a plane — and swipe that credit card merrily. Behold some of the most traditional, festive, and downright fun places to score seasonal finds around the globe each year.
1. Valkenburg, Netherlands
Since the legend of St. Nicholas is originally a Dutch one, we’d be remiss to not put the Valkenburg market at the head of this list. All of Valkenburg embodies that quintessential Christmas aesthetic, but Valkenburg is most famous for its Christmas cave markets — as in, a winter wonderland of Christmas craftsmanship located underground. The Velvet Caves transform into a magical destination for shoppers and sightseers alike.
2. Nuremberg, Germany
The Nuremberg market is flush with Christmas spirit and famous for a reason. While you’ll find heartwarming markets all over Germany this time of the year, the Nuremberg market might just take the cake. Why? Because in addition to the market’s lengthy history (it’s estimated that it’s over 400 years old!), this market makes visitors swoon with ornate décor, side-by-side handcrafted merchandise booths, Christmas events, and — of course — an abundance of mulled wine. Prost!
3. New York, U.S.A.
New York City’s Union Square Holiday Market (as well as the others that also pop up around the city) might not have as much traditional Christmas flair as some of the European markets, but it’s sprawling, gorgeous, and absolutely worth seeing. From the Rockefeller tree and ice skating to the Dyker Heights lights, December is a wonderful time to be in the Big Apple. With a market as expansive and impressive in product design as this one, New York is a jolly Christmas market destination.
4. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona’s holiday market — dubbed Fira de Santa Llucia — features nearly 300 artists’ booths. Caroling, choir and dance performances, and storytelling events set this market apart from others. It’s a vibrant — but classic — Christmas shopping attraction for visitors from all over the world. (Come to the city for the shopping, stay for the tapas!)
5. Toronto, Canada
Beer gardens and soul-soothing warm rum drinks, a World Caroling Challenge, and a music performance stage dedicated to rising stars (in genres across the board) are a few of our favorite things about the Toronto Christmas Market. An enormous Christmas tree takes center stage here, surrounded by a multitude of booths selling handmade goods. All told, this Canadian market makes for a wicked jolly time, eh?
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