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Explore four cities known for their buzzing and lively Xmas markets

Often held in the old parts of cities, Christmas markets attract tourists from across the world. Explore the four great cities known for their buzzing and lively Christmas markets.

travel Updated: Dec 17, 2016 18:50 IST
Sonali Shah
The markets in New York just add to the merriment, especially as many are set around ice rinks.
The markets in New York just add to the merriment, especially as many are set around ice rinks.(Photo:Songquan Deng )

Christmas markets are the best places to go shopping and indulge your taste buds at this time of the year. These special markets are held in numerous cities across the world, with each city offering its best of food, drinks and seasonal treats. Held during the week preceding Christmas, there’s much merriment to be experienced, and you’re likely to bump into people dressed in their warmest wear. While some of these markets charge admission fees, many welcome people au gratis. Also, most markets have definite closing times. Enquire about both to find one that suits you best. If you’re among the lucky ones travelling around Christmas, we’ve listed some of the liveliest markets for you to check out. If you’re going to be spending the festival here in the city, let this be a primer to help you start planning for your holidays next year.

People at the traditional Christmas market of Montreux, set up along the banks of Lake Geneva. (Photo: Flavio Vallenari )

Geneva, Switzerland
There’s hardly a doubt about how gorgeous this Alpine country can seem during the snowy winters, but add Marché de Noël (Christmas markets) to the mix, and you will have the best holiday. The market, held in Montreux on the banks of the beautiful Lake Geneva, is a popular one and you are likely to hear snatches of the French language. This year around, expect an Elves’ Village, a Santa Claus house, a magic garden (a lit-up delight for children) and the La Redoute House of Wishes — where your wishes go directly to Santa. Ensuring you have a great time there will be several musicians, a giant Ferris wheel, over 150 artisanal shops, and Flofi the mascot, with whom you can get pictures taken. Don’t forget to visit the market designed on a medieval theme in the Château de Chillon castle, which is situated on a rocky island, and can be a romantic day-trip destination in itself.

In Vienna, you’re well spoilt for choices with not just the number of goodies on sale, but with the different lifestyles you can explore. (Photo: Felix Lipov)

Vienna, Austria
This charming capital pulls out all the stops and hosts about 20 Christmas markets spread across the city. You’re well spoilt for choices here, with not just the number of goodies on sale, but with the different lifestyles you can explore. Head to the Christmas Village Belvedere Palace to experience Vienna’s baroque lifestyle and pick up ethnic handicrafts. For art lovers, the market in Karlsplatz promises installations and cultural performances, and for the eco-conscious visitors, there’s an Xmas fair that features strictly organic culinary delights. Enjoy shopping for yummy treats in a setting between the Vienna Museum of Natural History and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (of art). For those interested in the local favourites, you should be buying Austria’s prided Vanillekipferl biscuits by the tin. For those who hold their alcohol well, Glühwein is the traditional, red wine-based drink served at these markets.

The markets here offer a surprising range of goods — from Indian designer products to classic vintage items. (Photo: Andrew F Kazmierski)

New York, USA
This much-loved city is known to come alive with the Xmas spirit during the holidays, and no matter where you go, you’ll be in a celebratory setting. The markets just add to the merriment, especially as many are set around ice rinks and the weather is perfect to down many mugs of hot chocolate and eat gingerbread. A surprising range of goods are on offer — from Indian designer products to classic vintage items. You can find baked treats, craft workshops, art items, seasonal gifts and collectibles, to list a few. And if you truly wish to spend those dollars, the Grand Central Holiday Fair on Manhattan Island is the place to be. And for the classic New Year Santa story, take the children to Macy’s Santaland celebrations for a treasured picture.

Moscow offers a global treat with some fairs dedicated entirely to different countries. (Photo: Alexander Tolstykh)

Moscow, Russia
You’re in luck if you’re in this capital city around Christmas or right up to first week of January, as Moscow offers a global treat with some fairs dedicated entirely to different countries. Visit a Belgian-themed one or take a tour of Denmark and Sweden through Russian eyes. The Manezhnaya Ploshchad Square surpasses all, though, with its showcase of seven countries at once. Moscow’s Red Square market is set around an amusement park and a large ice rink. For traditional Russian games, head to the main Moskva fair, and to Pushkin Square for local treats, winter wear and babushka doll souvenirs. The only hitch is the cold weather. But then, there’s always the Russian solution to the dipping mercury — a shot of vodka.