There’s just no escaping the fact that Christmas is around the corner and believe me I do try to get away from it!! But even a Grinch like myself loves the magic of a Christmas market. The food, the drink, the interesting stalls with traditional souvenirs by local craftsmen, the ice skating and the fabulous atmosphere. What is there not to like?
And this little corner of Europe does it so well and you don’t even have to go to the big cities, pretty much every town puts on some form of magical Christmas extravaganza.
We’ve put together this list of the best out there to help you choose which Christmas market to visit. So, whether you want to hang out with friends over a glass of mulled wine and hot chocolate or go to shop for Christmas decorations and gifts. Maybe a family trip to one of the many fairy-tale lands that pop up is on the cards or you want to go and wonder at all the festive lights and trees – we’ve got it covered. Plus, as most of the action happens as night falls, why not go earlier, make a full day of it and explore in a fun and unique way with a Mini Adventure first? You can do that in all of these towns and cities except the very last two on the list.
BLED – Located along the waters of Lake Bled near the Heart of Bled, the Bled Festive Lakeside Promenade runs from 29.11. - 5.1. Mon-Thurs: 3pm-7pm, Fri-Sun: 11am-9pm. There’s lots of activities for adults and children. For more info visit - https://www.bled.si/en/events/2019100211562151/winter-fairytale-2019-20
CELJE – Celje is adorned with thousands of festive lights to welcome Santa Claus, dwarves, fairies, and wondrous heroes. Christmas dreams come true among the fairy-tale houses of the Christmas market, open-air concerts, horse and carriage rides and exquisite delicacies. Children's wishes will come true in the Fairy-Tale Land, a unique place in Slovenia, which also hosts a New Year's Eve party for children.
The Christmas market is from 30.11. -31.12 open 10am - 8pm and Fairy-tale Celje is open every day between 10am-12am & 5pm-7pm from 13.12 – 31.12.
KAMNIK – The Christmas lights are on from 1.12. -31.12 with a Christmas fair from 10.12.- 21.12. You can visit the following website for further information – https://www.visitkamnik.com/en/events/top-events/fairytale-kamnik
KRANJ – “Happy December'' in Kranj is from 1st to the 31st of December with the fair every Thursday to Sunday between 4pm-9pm. All the attractions and activities are listed on their website - https://www.visitkranj.com/en
KOPER –''Fantasy Winter in Wonderland'' or to give it it’s Slovene name - “Fantazima v Čudolandiji” is from 29 November until 5 January. Koper has the biggest ice-skating rink in Slovenia and a rich programme with more than 100 events. Check out this link for more details - https://www.koper.si/sl/novice/prisel-je-cas-fantazime-v-cudolandiji/
LJUBLJANA – As you would expect, the capital goes all out at this time of year. The lights and fair are on from 29.11.-5.1.2020 with loads of events happening. One is the Čarobni gozd, ''Magic forest'' from the 3rd of December between 4.30pm-7pm. It has arts and crafts for kids with FREE ADMISSION. Another is the Land of Ice where fairy tale images have been created from ice, both are located in Kongresni trg. A full list of everything that’s happening can be found here - https://www.slovenia.info/en/stories/spend-your-december-fantasy-in-ljubljana
MARIBOR – Čarobni december v Mariboru or ''Magic December in Maribor'' is from 29.11.-5.1. at Trg Leona štuklja. There are festive fairs and numerous open-air concerts and children's programmes at the Elf city. For further info check out - https://www.visitmaribor.si/en/what-to-do/events-and-shows/calendar-of-events/6488-
PIRAN – The lights are on from 1.12.-31.12. Piran has two different fairs - Tartinijeva Miklavževa tržnica ''Tartini's St. Nicholas fair'' 3.12.-10.12. and Tartinijeva Novo letna tržnica ''Tartini's New Year’s fair'' from 20th December to 6th January. Also, between 16.12. – 6.1. you can go and look at jaslice, the nativity scene, in all of Piran's churches.
PTUJ – The lights can be seen from 3.12. – 31.12. Pravljični december /''Fairytale December'' is from 18.12. -30.12. with a fair and many events on in Mestni trg (Town Square). You can read more about what’s happening in Ptuj here –
ŠKOFJA LOKA – Beli december v Škofji Loki ''White December in Škofja Loka'' with lights and ice- skating rink from 30.11.-31.12. and festival Loka v snegu ''Loka in snow'' with many events.
SLOVENSKE KONJICE – From the 5th December until the 2nd January there will be an ice-skating rink with a few stands open Mon-Fri 3pm-8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-12am and 2pm-8pm. Towards the end of the year there’s a lot of cultural events. There is also a festivity train that travels through the town from 26th to 30th December, between 4pm-8pm FREE OF CHARGE.
JUST OUTSIDE SLOVENIA – A FESTIVE DAY TRIP OR OVERNIGHT EXCURSION.
GRAZ – The lights and Christmas markets are from 22.11. -24.12. Graz has 15 different markets within easy walking distance from one to another. A fun train ride is available daily from 11.00 - 19.00 and on 24th December 10.00 - 14.00, tickets are required at 2€ per adult/ 1€ per child – starting point is at the Christmas market in Hauptplatz square.
BUDAPEST – Named the 2ND BEST CHRISTMAS FAIR IN EUROPE by portal European best destinations. It runs from 22.11.2019 – 1.1.2020 at two different locations – a Christmas market in Basilica and a Christmas fair in Vorosmarty Square.
BRATISLAVA – from 22.11.- 22.12. At 6 locations across the city. One of them is the Christmas Market Advent at the Castle, another is in the Main Square. They even have Vegan Christmas Market at Umelka Pub garden (from 13.12.-23.12) https://www.visitbratislava.com/events/bratislava-christmas-market-2019/ for more information.
VARAŽDIN - There’s a lot of things going on in Vara҆ždin with something for everyone at 7 different locations from 29.11. – 6.1. Enjoy ice-skating, there’s a slide made of ice, markets and concerts. This website has more information and pictures of past years - http://www.tourism-varazdin.hr/advent-u-varazdinu/
VIENNA – Often featured in top ten lists of best Christmas markets in Europe, Vienna is a must visit. Vienna Christmas World at City Hall Square is the biggest and brightest of the city’s markets. With over 150 stalls, you can browse the selection of Christmas gifts, decorations, crafts, tasty treats and winter warming drinks while taking in the festive lights and trees. This website will give you all the information you need to plan what to see and do - https://www.wien.info/en/shopping-wining-dining/markets/christmas-markets.
ZAGREB – The Zagreb Christmas Market has been awarded the Best Christmas Market in Europe three times. The award, given out by European Best Destinations, goes to Zagreb for the utter spectacle it puts on every year. Open from November 30th until January 1st with varying opening times depending on the venue. The best thing to do is click on this link to get the lowdown on what not to miss - https://www.visitzagreb.hr/zagreb-advent-christmas-market-guide/
Hopefully you’re now fully equipped to decide which Christmas market you are going to visit or perhaps like me; you now want to visit them all!
A Mini Adventure is a great way to discover a town or city in all it’s festive glory. Visit our website for more details – www.miniadventures.eu