22 Nov

Brits seek festive cheer as demand for Christmas Market trips increases

This weekend sees the Christmas Market season getting into full swing and ABTA Members are reporting up to 20% increases in bookings year on year for specialist Christmas Market packages.  In recent years overseas Christmas markets have become increasingly popular with UK holidaymakers looking for an authentic and traditional Christmas experience, and many cities in the UK have got in on the act, offering their own European style markets.

Christmas markets feature throughout much of Northern Europe with many dating back hundreds of years, most start in mid to late November, with many remaining open throughout December and into the New Year.  Here is a brief selection of some of the most popular in the UK and Europe:

  • Dresden –The capital of Saxony is home to Germany’s oldest Christmas market where you can sample their delicious version of Christmas cake, Stollen. It’s one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and its baroque buildings are at their best when sprinkled with snow and ice
  • Prague - The Czech capital has lovely markets and its old town square, surrounded by renaissance and Gothic buildings, comes alive at Christmas with live music and food stalls. Prague can be crowded at other times of the year but at Christmas you can enjoy the Charles Bridge and Castle area with mostly just the locals for company
  • Vienna –You can go waltzing to the strains of Strauss on an open air rink in front of the parliament building and work off some of the pounds you’ve put on after gorging yourself on pancakes, potato fritters and chocolate fountains- not to mention the best coffee and cakes in Europe and the Wurstelprater fairground!
  • Heidelburg –Another amazing Christmas market can be found in the centre of this medieval town, spreading out through five squares and cobbled alleys. The foods of choice here are grilled sausages and baked apples
  • Birmingham – To get the full on authentic German experience you don’t have to head off overseas, twinned with Frankfurt the incredibly friendly Brummie capital has a fantastic German market with over 180 craft stalls
  • Paris - A little closer to home, in Paris the Champs Elysees fills up with white painted stalls and a giant illuminated Ferris wheel in the lead up to Christmas, perfect for families with children of all ages
  • London – Hyde Park plays host to over 100 stalls, the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, a circus, Ferris wheel and a Bavarian village and if you want to continue the fun, head off to the Southbank which hosts its own Christmas market on the banks of the Thames.

Victoria Bacon, ABTA Head of Communications said: “Christmas shopping can often be a chore but Christmas markets take you back to a time when everything about this time of year was magical. The growth in popularity of the markets also supports the wider trend we are seeing of holidaymakers seeking out more authentic and local experiences. The markets, both here and overseas, are a wonderful opportunity for people to enjoy an early winter break, with many travel companies offering packages by air, rail, coach or even on a river cruise.”