One of the best ways to celebrate the holidays is to browse the Christmas markets and join in with the festive traditions different countries have to offer. These five Christmas markets are some of the most magical spots to celebrate the festive season, so start planning your holiday travel now:
1. Dresden, Germany (pictured): Dresden’s ‘Striezelmarkt’ is the longest-running Christmas market in the world and one of the largest, attracting millions of visitors each year – a definite trip for all Christmas lovers. With over 200 stands Striezelmarkt features traditional foods, drinks and lots of handmade crafts, this famous Christmas market also hosts fairground rides and a giant wooden Advent calendar in the heart of the festive city.
2. The Three Kings Parade (Los Reyes Magos), Tenerife: On the 5th of January every year, Tenerife celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men. The tradition goes that Los Reyes Magos bring sweets and small gifts for Spanish children overnight, and during the day families enjoy a festive feast together. The parade is a wonderful festive tradition to enjoy in Tenerife over Christmastime with camels, floats, dancers and local bands and market stalls.
3. Santa Claus Village, Finland: One of the most famous Christmas destinations is the Santa Claus Village in Lapland, Finland, the home of Santa. The Village draws in thousands of visitors every Christmas, who can meet Santa, his elves, and his reindeer. Santa Claus Village is also home to a large Christmas market featuring lots of traditional Finnish foods and crafts, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a reindeer ride or go dog sledding. The classic Christmas village is also a great place to try and see the Northern Lights, which really adds to the festive magic.
4. Valkenburg, Netherlands: Valkenburg is home to the biggest underground Christmas market in Europe. This unique festive experience is in the heart of the city’s famous caves and turns into an extraordinary underground winter wonderland during Christmas time. The caves are filled with captivating lights and decorations, market stalls from local vendors, life-size nativity sculptures and decadent Christmas trees hidden away in the caves settled under the Valkenburg castle ruins.
5. Mount Pilatus, Switzerland: The Christmas market on top of Mount Pilatus is officially the highest in Europe. At over 2000 metres visitors must ride up on the world’s steepest cogway railway to experience the Swiss Christmas magic. The mountaintop Christmas market is set amongst the beautiful panoramic views and sells traditional gifts, handmade presents and tasty treats and is decked out in festive ornaments and lights. n
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