Christmas in July

Yes, today really is July 25th…it’s hard to believe!  I love the Christmas season! I am not much of a shopper but instead I love seeing, doing and tasting the season of Christmas. One experience we love to do as a family is to go to Busch Gardens Christmastown.  For those of you who don't know it's an amusement park that opens for the evening hours and is decorated as a replica of the European Christmas markets. Not all of the rides are open but for a few hours I feel like I am in Europe, it’s wonderful!

So what are Christkindlmarkts?  In the early 1500’s Christkindlmarkts, also known as Christmas Markets, were started in Germany as a festive meeting place for people. It was a place where villagers bought and sold homemade Christmas ornaments, decorations, and gifts including hand carved nutcrackers, wooden smokers, wooden figures, cuckoo clocks, straw ornaments and blown glass ornaments. Over the years these markets expanded to other European counties and are a very important part of the Christmas season. The charm, the history and the unique craftsmanship that goes into these markets is just remarkable.  The shopping that occurs in the markets is very different than shopping in the United States. For example, these markets start at the beginning of advent and NOT in JULY.  However, if you want to get in on these markets I suggest planning much further in advance….like today. : )

 

Charming Christmas Markets for the whole Family

Nuremberg, Germany

This makes nearly everyone’s list and it’s probably one of the most well-known Christmas markets. They even have a specific market just for kids.  Amazing! The market is built at kid’s height so they can see everything that is going on.  They have specific programs geared for children but appeal to the whole family.  The kids enjoy baking gingerbread and decorating it or carrying a hand crafted lantern through the market. Right outside the Christkindlemarkt you can find a nostalgic merry go round, mini Ferris wheel and steam railway.

Frankfurt, Germany

Germany was the first country to start the Christmas markets and the Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt happens to be one of the oldest.  The market offers all the typical Christmas market attractions like the huge Christmas tree, carols, mulled wine, fresh gingerbread and local delicacies to taste.  Frankfurt attracts kids because of its amazing merry go round, carousel and amazing home-made toys. 

 

Strasbourg, France

One of the largest markets of its kind in Europe, spread out among 11 sites in the city. There is a fast tram which links you between all the vintage markets along the main square and along the Rhine river. There is even a village where children are invited to a make believe world of Christmas at Place St Thomas. 

 

Vienna, Austria

A city full of age old traditions and over 20 official markets.  Wiener Christkindlmarkt is one of central Europe’s most magnificent markets. Located inside the Rathausplatz fairground and park on the grounds of Vienna city hall.  The market contains a few ice rinks, Farris wheel, giant snow globes, carnival rides, a stunning light display and hundreds of vendors.  The market is large but absolutely spectacular.  

 

 Valkenburg, Netherlands

Lastly, this Christmas market is a very unique experience as it takes place underground in caves which were mined by the Romans 2000 years ago.  There are several caves but make sure to visitthe Wilhelmina Cave and take charmingly lit cable cars to the top of the tower where you can enjoy breath-taking views of Valkenburg. 

 

This is just a very short list of Christmas markets around Europe, too many to count.   If Europe is on your list for the holiday season, be sure to check out at least one. You won’t regret it.   Now I just want to eat some gingerbread…in July.