With Christmas around the corner, all over the world, stalls are being prepped, wine is being mulled and chestnuts are being roasted – it’s almost time for Christmas markets to open their doors.
Germany’s Christmas markets have historically drawn in tourists from all over, and France’s Strasbourg plays host to one of the oldest and most visited Christmas markets on the planet – but which markets around the globe are tourists starting to appreciate more?
Seattle in the USA takes the top spot as the number one festive market pulling in the most interest this year. With an increase in searches of 650%, Seattle ranks as the most up and coming Christmas market of 2023, followed by Belgrade in Serbia (387%) and Tallinn in Estonia (236%).
2023’s Top 20 Christmas Markets to Visit
|Rank||[location] + Christmas market||Country||Increase in popularity versus Aug-Oct 2022|
|1||Seattle||United States of America||650%|
|6||Arlington||United States of America||127%|
|13||Boston||United States of America||90%|
- Seattle, United States of America
Seattle’s Christmas market is happening for the first time this year. From the same people that created the famous Vancouver Christmas market, Seattle’s promises to include an eye-catching Christmas carousel, a Lover’s Lane light installation and local musicians performing traditional holiday music.
- Belgrade, Serbia
If you find yourself in Belgrade this Christmas period, head straight to Knez Mihailova street where the city’s festive spirit comes alive. The entire street is decked out in Christmas decorations with stalls selling all manner of festive things. Don’t miss the odžak cake, a traditional Serbian pastry that is shaped like a chimney and contains chocolate and other sweets.
- Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn’s Christmas market has increased in popularity in recent years but is a hallmark of festive tradition for Estonians living in the capital. Held in the Town Hall Square, the Christmas tree has been set up in the same place every year since 1441 and is said to have been the first Christmas tree ever to be put on display in Europe.
- Gdańsk, Poland
The Christmas markets in Gdańsk are described as some of the most beautiful in Europe, having even taken second place in the Best Christmas Markets competition this year. With atmospheric light installations, Polish delicacies and unique festive gifts, this market is a European favourite. Make sure to visit the fair’s mascots Mr and Mrs Orzechowski, two life size nutcrackers that have a rich history hailing from the 18th century.
- Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana comes alive in December, when the beautiful capital city transforms into a Festive Fair. Market stalls offering intricate handmade gifts, traditional foods and drinks pop up all over, while cultural events, open-air concerts and performances take place throughout the city. An impressive light display also takes place, designed by artist Zmago Modic.
- Arlington, United States of America
Taking place in Arlington, the Texas Christkindl Market has been taking place annually since 2011. Arlington’s sister city has been Königshofen in Germany for the last 70 years, and the relationship inspired the birth of this German inspired Christmas market in the states.
- Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp’s Christmas markets are spread out all over the city, peppered throughout some of the most notable landmarks in the area. From a Ferris wheel to an ice-skating rink, there’s plenty to do if you don’t want to shop or eat. If you are looking for festive food and drink however don’t miss out on picking up a glass of glühwein and traditional speculoos cookies.
- Tokyo, Japan
There are multiple Christmas markets in Tokyo for anyone looking to get into the festive spirit. The largest in Hibiya is supported by the German Embassy and has a 14-metre-tall Christmas tree which is even shipped over from Germany. Every entrant to the market gets their own mug, which you can use to purchase hot drinks like a delicious hot chocolate and keep as a souvenir after you leave.
- Málaga, Spain
Described as one of Spain’s best Christmas markets, Málaga turns into a Christmas lover’s dream at this time of year. Be sure to sample the traditional sweets, including a shortbread known as mantecados, nougat called turrón and borrachuelos, which are Málaga wine-flavoured fried pastries. With nativity scenes popping up all over, stalls in every direction and stunning Christmas lights – you won’t be disappointed.
- Athens, Greece
While Greece might not conjure up images of snowy, cold Christmas markets full of people adorned in big coats and scarves, the country’s capital is a beautiful place to celebrate the festive period. A small Christmas market pops up in Athens and festive events take place across the entire city. Modern light installations dazzle viewers, decorated trees show up on all corners, and traditional events take place, all of which incorporate Greek Orthodox customs into the celebrations.
Chris Rolland, CEO at InsureandGo adds: “The festive period is such a fantastic time to travel, with traditional events specific to each destination offering so much to discover. We wanted to find out which markets are drawing in more visitors than they used to and were thrilled to see some unique locations in the rankings, beyond the classic places we tend to think of when we consider Christmas markets.
“While travelling during this period is incredibly exciting, it’s always important to be prepared when visiting busy places where many people will be in attendance. Keep your belongings close by and be informed about the destination you’re visiting. To make sure you’re fully covered, particularly if you’re planning on visiting multiple markets in different countries this year, remember your annual multi-trip travel insurance, so you can make the most of every moment.”
Data was obtained from Google Keyword Planner. The search volumes for [location] + Christmas market were compared for the months of August-October 2022, and August-October 2023, to calculate the percentage increase.
All data correct as of November 2023.