Nothing quite beats a mug of steaming mulled wine or an oversized Bratwurst from a Christmas market – let’s face it, Christmas markets are the perfect excuse to eat, drink and be merry. Rosie rounds up her favourite festive treats from Europe’s best Christmas markets.
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Southbank Centre’s epic food market has become an institution in the City, so the extended winter version is an extra special treat. Enjoy alpine fondue from a pop-up igloo overlooking the River Thames at Jimmy’s Lodge, fish and chips from Applebee’s, or a good old traditional bowl of cheese and carbs from Mac Shack (don’t worry, there’s also a vegan and gluten-free option made with roasted cauliflower and kohlrabi with a vegan cheese sauce and a hazelnut, herb and chilli crumb topping).
No country does Christmas quite so magically as Germany – and Munich’s stunning Marienplatz makes a spectacular setting for the city’s Christmas market. Expect cute huts serving gigantic Bratwurst sausages, oversized pretzels, and copious mugs of Glühwein – or, if you’re feeling brave, Feuerzangenbowle: a traditional and very drinkable German drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine.
Read our Munich travel guide here.
Vienna boasts enough Christmas markets to keep you busy for a week – and while the traditional markets at Freyung and the gorgeous Schloss Schönbrunn are must-sees, gourmands should also stop off at the renowned Christmas market at Karlsplatz, where all food is 100% organic. Don’t leave without having sampled a generous slice of Apfelstrudel with lashings of hot Vanillesoße (like a posh custard) and picking up a bag of Vanillekipferl – buttery biscuits in crescent moon shapes that melt in the mouth.
Read our Vienna travel guide here.
Paris’s Christmas market in the gorgeous Jardin des Tuileries is a gastronomic delight for French specialities – the government has mandated that the organizers sell 80% of their stalls to ‘French products’, so expect dishes like tartiflette, raclette, crêpes and macarons in abundance.
Read our Paris travel guide here.
Interlaken is renowned for its year-round beauty, but when Christmas comes around it is transformed into a snow globe scene-worthy winter wonderland. The festive season sees the opening of Top of Europe ICE MAGIC where a group of ice rinks, varying in size, are linked together by a winding 500-metre ice runway leading to a piazza boasting classic Swiss-German market stalls housed in miniature chalet-esque structures and a variety of different restaurants, perfect for getting your Swiss hot chocolate and cheese fondue fix.
The event takes place just in front of the stunning Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, so after a busy evening of getting into the festive spirit guests can walk directly from the rink to their room for some well-earned relaxation time. The hotel hails from the Belle Epoque Era with opulent high ceilings, marble bathrooms and classic, elegant interiors which reflect its 150 year-long legacy. Aside from Ice Magic, the hotel also offers a free ski shuttle service to the nearby Jungfrau Ski lifts, paragliding (coming into land on the hotel’s own private landing strip), night-time snowshoe treks, husky and even llama tours throughout the winter.
Bruges is a city known for being quaint, so it’s no surprise that it really comes into its own at Christmas time. Expect stalls selling traditional frites, fluffy waffles drowning in melted Belgian chocolate, and ice-cold jenever – a local spirit guaranteed to warm you up from the inside.
For when you need to walk off all the food, Bruges has installed two special illuminated walks, with dynamic light installations, atmospheric lighting and projections. Alternating organic and natural displays of light are projected onto gables, trees and benches, allowing the viewer to experience Bruges from a whole new perspective. The Illuminated trails begin from 3.30pm and keep going until midnight every day between now and 5 January.
Main image: Southbank Centre Winter Market
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