A-Z of Christmas Markets

Last year I had the joy of experiencing a Christmas tradition throughout Europe: the Christmas market. It started with one in Paris on the Champs-Elysées, certainly the most touristy one I visited. Then I embarked on a trip with my husband to Strasbourg, France; Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; and four German cities: Berlin, Nürnberg, Dresden, and Leipzig. Here is my A-Z list to illustrate what I found and why I love Christmas markets!

A: Animals 

Furry friends in Prague 

B: Bratwurst

Dinner in Dresden one night was a meter-long bratwurst, folded in two to fit on a bun. I got the impression that the stand didn't see many non-German tourists. His reply when we said we were from the US? "Well, that's a long way to come for sausage!"

C: Candles

Handmade candles in Berlin

Christmas markets are filled with beautiful handicrafts from all over the world.

D: Decorations

European cities get all dressed up for Christmas. Prague was such a beautiful city in its own right and became even more romantic with its markets. This is at the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí).

E. Eiffel Tower

Yup, Champs--Élysées was quite touristy. But it still looked very pretty, nonetheless.

F. Früchtebrot

Here's some Früchtebrot (fruit bread) from Nürnberg. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the specialty that I really loved from that town, which were soft gingerbread-like cookies called Lebkuchen. I must have eaten them too fast to document!

G: Glühwein

Called vin chaud in French and glühwein in German, mulled wine is a staple to any Christmas market and is useful to combat the inevitable cold temperatures.

As we headed north in Germany, temperatures dropped and glühwein stands became more eleborate. Dresden had a bunch of makeshift bars like this one that offered added warmth.


H: Horse and carriage

 Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) in Prague, Czech Republic 

I. Instruments

There were so many music performances at the markets like this one we heard in Nürnberg.

J. Jesus

Prague, Czech Republic

K. Korean Food

The Augustusmarkt in Dresden featured a vast variety of international foods. The "K-food Gangnam Style" was a spirited, friendly stand!

L. Lights

Another look at the international Augustusmarkt in Dresden

M. Manger 

A manger with live animals in Leipzig, Germany

N. Nutcrackers 

O. Ornaments 

P: Pyramid 

Dresden's Striezelmarkt features the largest Erzgebirge step pyramid in the world.

Q. Queen's Residence 

A Christmas market in Berlin in front of the Charlottenburg Palace

R: Rathaus

A market in front of the Rathaus (town hall) in Vienna

S: Stars

Belvedere Palace in Vienna hosted a Christmas market

T: Tree

Strasbourg, France

Vienna, Austria

U: U.S.A.

Some of the cities had an international market among the Christmas markets with products from countries all over the world. We found a USA stand in Nürnberg that sold Obama T-shirts, Harley Davidson items, and Skittles, among other things. The shopkeepers let us stand behind the counter for a picture!

V: Village

Strasbourg, France

W: Weihnachtsmarkt

Dresden, Germany

X: Xtra People

Yea, I had to take a cheap shot with X. But seriously, there are lots of extra people coming to Dresden to visit this very old Christmas market - 2013 marks the Striezelmarkt's 579th year! The market entices 2.5 million visitors annually! 

Y: Yuletide Cheer

Even traffic on the Champs-Élysées looks cheerier with the street lined by lights and markets.

Z: Zum Christkindlesmarkt

"To the Christmas market" sign in Nürnberg