Giant trees, high altitude stands, ancient carousels and winter delicacies: what Christmas would it be without markets?
A sparkling festive pop-up: Christmas markets give to young and old the pleasure to enter a 3D fairytale. The atmospheres of the most beautiful markets are unique, made of small joys to be experienced slowly: sparkling lights, wreath and decorations, aromas of spices, mulled wine, many stands full of handmade products, sweets, and assorted temptations.
Children can meet Santa Claus in person or the Elves that wander around the stands, through shows, music, and magical paths taking place in the white-beard old man’s dwelling and in his toys factory. Moments of joy and wonder that lingers in the heart.
Here’s some of the most beautiful markets you can visit this winter, located in Italy and Europe.
Santa Claus’ Village at Ricetto di Candelo (BI)
Every year, at the end of November, one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Italy turns into a Christmas village. It stays open only for few days, but it’s worth it: this year’s opening days will be 25-26 November, 2-3 and 8-9-10 December.
It’s charming to walk among alleys where the time seems to have been stopped, through theme events, laboratories for children, nativities exhibitions and Santa Claus’ Christmas post office.
The market stands offer traditional handmade products and delicious local food.
There’s also Santa Claus who collects children’s letters!
The Hapsburg Christmas market at Levico Terme (TN)
In the Hapsburgs’ Parco Secolare, every year during this season an ancient fairytale comes alive: it’s Levico’s Christmas market, the wonderful thermal centre of Valsugana.
The market welcomes the visitors among the centuries-old trees of the park covered by lights, the aromas of spices and mulled wine, the smiles of the skilful artisans. It’s amazing to look around the wooden houses with their handmade products and local food, letting yourself being enchanted by shows and music, the smell of resins and, who knows, snow decorating everything.
The extras of the Hapsburg Court take you back to the past with historical reenactments and the Grand Ball in Piazza della Chiesa.
The best thing for children? Santa Claus’ helpers waiting for them at the Elves Village and the decorated coaches for an old-style tour to discover the historical centre.
Al cospetto della grande cometa a Verona
Sono considerati tra i mercatini natalizi più belli del Veneto, quelli della città più romantica d’Italia. Nel bellissimo centro storico di Verona le tipiche casette di legno accolgono i visitatori con specialità enogastronomiche, prodotti di artigianato e addobbi natalizi, in vetro, legno e ceramica.
Piazza dei Signori ospita il mercatino organizzato in collaborazione con il Christkindlmarkt di Norimberga: per trovare idee regalo e prodotti tipici dell’artigianato tedesco.
In piazza Bra, a ridosso dell’Arena, si può ammirare l’installazione della Stella Cometa, considerata la più grande archi-scultura al mondo: in acciaio, è alta ben 100 metri. Pista di pattinaggio, giostra e la luccicante casetta di Babbo Natale rendono completa la felicità dei bambini.
Among the peaks in Livigno (SO)
Emotions at altitude: in Livigno, in the province of Sondrio, the traditional Christmas markets welcome families with characteristic wooden houses, sparkling lights, enveloping perfumes. Between exquisite food and local handmade products, you can find plenty of ideas for original gifts and for decorating both the tree and the house.
The snow-capped mountains frame everything: here, at 1.800 meters, people meet for hot chocolate, mulled wine, and seasonal delicacies.
Christkindlmarkt, at Bolzano, where Christmas feels at home.
December is the month when Bolzano turns into a winter fairytale, among lights and decorations, trees and nativities, Christmas songs, colours, and perfumes, that recalls the ones of central Europe, where Christmas feels at home.
This year the Christkindlmarkt, the Christmas market, is spread throughout the city, with the best gastronomy and craftsmanship of Alto Adige. Besides the stands, there is a skating rink, the characteristic carousel, events about music, art and culture and the electric train that crosses some of the nicest streets and squares of the city centre.
But it’s not all: in few minutes of cable car or train, from Bolzano you can reach the Renon plateau where you can live the fairytale atmosphere of the Trenatale, a special market among the snowy trees, where the wooden stands are shaped like the historical coaches of the Renon train.
The world’s largest Christmas tree in Gubbio (PG)
Not everyone knows that, during winter, Gubbio turns and becomes a real Christmas city, with a lot of attractions and no less than the world’s largest Christmas tree (turned on every year on December 7). The markets are very nice, with handmade objects, Christmas decorations, culinary specialties, and the fun Santa Claus’ train for the little ones.
However, in Gubbio there are plenty of attractions: there is ChristmasLand, with its peculiar setting, evocative lighting effects and Santa’s house. Around the city centre there are nativities and artistic lights, the skating rink, the 3D videomapping show on the Palazzo dei Consoli façade, and the North Pole’s Grande Ruota that gives an incredible view of Gubbio from above.
Arezzo, the Christmas town
What a marvel the city centre of Arezzo is, when it’s livened up by the markets, the lights shows, the Ferris wheel and the big, illuminated Christmas tree.
The Tyrolese village is the Christmas market with exhibitors coming from Tyrol, Germany, and Austria, but there are also Tuscan artisans and producers with their best local products. During the evening you can attend the spectacular lighting play, music, and colours of the Big Lights Show, that magically colours the façade of the buildings. A must-stop for children is Santa Claus’ house, where among games and animations they can meet Santa and deliver their letters, and the Lego Brick House Art, the Christmas Lego Village.
Markets and Nativity all year round at Naples
Via San Gregorio Armeno is the traditional street full of nativities small shops at Naples: famous artisans work there to create figurines of every dimension, from full-size to miniatures. A particular detail: the street is open all year round since the artisans never stop working.
In Naples you can also admire the world’s smallest nativities by visiting the Museo Divino. Incredible miniature creations build inside an eggshell, a black quartz, or even a hemp seed, to be discovered thanks to a magnifying glass. Amazing!
Go to the Museo Nazionale Ferroviario of Pietrarsa for a walk-through Christmas market: wooden small houses, Christmas songs and many handmade products to look around. The best part? The excellence of Campania’s gastronomy: is there anything tastier than that to set the holiday tables? Children can post their letters in Santa Claus’ house and play with potions and magic experiments in a great area.
Stuttgart antique markets
The one in Stuttgart is one of the oldest and largest markets in Europe: during December it changes, giving us a fairytale atmosphere filled with spectacular lights. The old city, with its medieval castle, frames the Christmas market called Weihnachtsmarkt.
A market of the ancient history, dating back to 300 years ago, that managed to keep its charm intact until today: more than 300 stands wonderfully decorated display local handmade products, refined Christmas decorations and gastronomy specialties.
A must-try are the anise biscuits created by modelling the dough in elegant wooden carvings, the sweet bread made of fruit called “Hutzenbrot” and a glass of “Glühwein”, a spiced mulled wine.
There is a special programme for children, with the train and the “extra small” Ferris wheel, the nostalgic carousel, and a laboratory where they can create together their own Christmas candle.
Stands and lights at Innsbruck
The largest Christmas wonderland: this is the goal of this Austrian city for Christmas 2023. Seven different Christmas markets with decorated stands, local craftmanship, gastronomy delicacies, and the unique atmosphere of the Austrian Advent welcome tourists of any age. Besides, until January 28 at Innsbruck there’s Lumagica, a light park illuminates the garden of the Hofgarten court with beautiful brights sculptures. The one-kilometre-long circular path allows visitors to make an incredible world tour, photo-worthy: from the majestic animals to the surprising installations, to the innovative designed set-ups inspired by faraway lands.
Between the interactive scenes and music-rhythmed videos, the Hofgarten gives to families a glittering and engaging winter adventure.
Colmar and its six markets
With its pastel timber framed houses, its narrow medieval streets, its channels, Colmar is the most fairytale-looking small town of Alsace. If you love markets, you will not be disappointed: during winter this French town turns into the most magical Christmas village, among luxurious decorations and evocative lightings. There are six markets in the city centre: the largest one is in Place des Dominicains, where children have fun on the Christmas tree shaped carousel.
In the beautiful neighbourhood of Petite Venise (small Venice) there’s the children market: to have a hot drink, to have a stroll riding horses and to post the letter in the giant Santa Claus’ house that has its headquarters there.
Perfect for holidays
Shining for the parties, comfy for the night: this is how the Christmas spirit translates into children apparel.
In Primigi stores you can find smart suits, billowing skirts, shimmering dresses perfect for every party. And then wonderful pyjamas, warm and soft, decorated with reindeers, penguins, bears and other adorable animals, to have sweet dreams.
*Article written in collaboration with Giovani Genitori