By Ingrid Ahlgren
Every November, a holiday market springs up in Bryant Park, around the corner from our Manhattan office. It’s fun to spend lunchtime strolling through the shops, which sell everything from jewelry to mittens to neckties to food. And, since the center of the park becomes a skating rink in the winter, you can sit and watch the ice skaters after browsing for gifts.
Of course, there are other holiday markets out there. In New York City, various seasonal markets aim to meet shoppers’ holiday needs. Union Square has an outdoor bazaar with more than 100 vendors, and Columbus Circle has a holiday market at the southern edge of Central Park. Outside of New York, you can get into a festive spirit at Christkindlmarket in Chicago or Christmas Village in Philadelphia.
Many of the best holiday markets are in Europe. In Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens hosts a traditional Christmas market offering a variety of arts and crafts. Nuremberg is home to Germany’s oldest holiday market (click here for a video of the famous “Christkindlesmarkt”). Vienna boasts more than 20 official Advent Markets, and Prague has impressive Christmas bazaars where visitors can sample local foods, Czech beers and warm beverages.
Holiday markets are also popular in some less expected locales. South Africa has a variety of Christmas bazaars, including some held at vineyards on the Western Cape. Every year, a German Christmas market is set up in Odori Park in Sapporo, Japan (whose sister city is Munich), and booths sell German beer, sausages and other delicacies.
Staff members at Academic Arrangements Abroad shared their suggestions for great holiday markets around the globe.
“I would have to say my favorite holiday market is in Munich, Germany,” says Assistant Tour Coordinator Chelsea Bryant. “They have small markets set up throughout the city, selling ornaments, gingerbread, mulled wine, and handmade gifts. In the pavilions where they hold Oktoberfest, there are larger markets with an even greater variety of things to buy.”
Ute Keyes, Manager, Operations and Development, recommends the Christmas Market in Strasbourg. “Because of the setting—a big cathedral, multiple squares, cobble stone, beautiful houses— it looks like a fairy tale,” she says. At the market, you can buy food from waffles to bratwurst, mulled hot wine (Gluhwein), and a lot of local arts and crafts.
What’s your favorite holiday market?