It’s that time of the year again. The time when even the December nip in the air is trumped by warmth, of camaraderie, great food and of course shopping. So while I take you to the best Christmas markets of India and the world, you can nibble on the hot eats from some of the best cake and pastry places in India.
To start with, I’ll scoot off right to India’s most happening place for Christmas shopping and celebrations – Goa. Going by the buzz, all the shopaholics have already reached Arpora and Margao for some crazy shopping. Calangute and Tibetan Market are two other hotspots for this Christmas and New Year’s shopping at Goa. From clothes to souvenirs and rum cakes, everything is up for grabs here. Just polish your bargaining skills before you hit the shopping mode.
Decorative furniture, Christmas and New Year’s gifts are the hottest selling items at Mumbai’s Hill Road this year, making it a must visit for every Mumbaikar. Not to forget, it’s the place to get the cheapest White Christmas Trees in the whole of Mumbai. Half of the stores have already run out of stock and have taken pre-orders. Some record that! Plus, there’s Crawford Market and I.C. Colony market too.
Other than the very famous celebrations at the German Embassy, visit Gurgaon’s Epicentre, Rajauri Garden and Connaught Place, the hub for all shopping fanatics. While Epicentre will host Christmas Carnival on December 24 and December 25, astonishing discounts and sale is on at Connaught Place and Rajauri Garden till New Year’s Eve. Go, plunder.
Also known as Winterlights of Dresden, the Christmas market here is much more than a market if you go by the literal meaning of the word. While the whole regions shimmers with thousands of paper stars and colourful lights, shopholics experience one of the most memorable times of their lives. Handicrafts, souvenirs, fashion wear, works of local artisans are just an added attraction to jugglers, flame throwers and musicians at this market.
Hailed as Europe’s Most Original Christmas Market, Brussels Market is nothing less than a spread for the lovers of shopping and fun. With special illuminations, merry go rounds, shopping festivals and more, Brussels becomes a fantasy come true for the fans of Mills & Boons with everything prim, proper and perfect to signal the start of celebrations. Plus, there’s the ice rink too.
With the very famous ice rink at its side, Winchester Cathedral Christmas and New Year’s Market is still amongst the must visit list of shopaholics and fun lovers. You can hog on mulled wine, bratwurst, mince pies and more while shopping here. The cathedral here is also home to England’s most beautiful altar decorations, while the market buzzes with England’s most creative jewellers, painters, glass makers and textile artists. You can also join in the Jane Austen reading sessions that are on till December 31.
You simply cannot leave Ireland behind if the word shopping is doing the rounds. Irish are a league apart when it comes to celebrating. And the New Year and Christmas Market at Belfast proves it really well. The market is open for all days of the week (Mon – Wed 10am – 8pm, Thu – Sat 10am – 10pm, Sun 1pm – 6pm). Browse through the most fascinating collection of handbags, satchels, socks, hats and gloves, wooden toys, essential oils, crystals, hand-painted pottery and Christmas decorations. Plus, meet Santa too.
I have met people who swear by the sugar roasted almonds of the Copenhagen Christmas Market. Astonishingly, the same set of people is raring to go there again, every Christmas. And if you thought roasted almonds are the only thing luring them, there’s the Oriental market at Christiania and the Flea Market at Ravnsborggad which is nothing less than a haven for shoppers.
Nottingham is hosting the Winter Wonderland Market for this year, also announcing that shop shutters are not shutting till 8 pm! With two hours of extended shopping in the evening till January 5, you’ll have much to choose from Christmas gifts, crafts, seasonal snacks and hot piping food. Just to add more lure, the ice skating rink is all snowed and entry to Tipple Bar is allowed too! Old Market Square at Nottingham has never been this appealing.
You really need to be at Cologne if you consider yourself a shopaholic. There are more than 160 stalls by Rhine to check out here. Cinnamon stars, baked apples and roasted almonds are up for munching if you burn too much energy while loading your bags with traditional, handcrafted Christmas goodies. There’s pipe-smoking wooden “Räuchermännchen”, nutcrackers, nativity figures and other Christmas decoration too. For the fun seeking ones, there are pewter pourers, wreath binders glassblowers and jugglers doing the rounds.
This is one time in Rome when pizza smell wafts in the air and blends astonishingly well with other elements that make for a very Roman christmas. The old churches turn all the more inviting, while shopping lovers try to balance shopping bags full of toys, handmade presepio figures, carnival games of chance, ciambelle (giant doughnuts) and more. The shopping carnival stays on till mid January!
Choose between the two equally fascinating Prague Christmas Markets at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Or, visit both! The goodies at Prague markets include wooden toys, Bohemian crystal, handmade jewelry, Czech marionettes and much much more. And if all this shopping makes you hungry, go grab the lavish sounding honeyed gingerbread, vánocvka (pastries filled with raisins), vosí hnízda‘ (cookies with rum). For the ending note, gulp some mead.
Leaving you with this list of world’s best Christmas markets, I’m off to make myself a shopping list. I’m off to some shopping too.
Just for a bye, happy travelling.
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