Visiting Europe this time of year was completely different from past visits and it has me longing to spend Christmas in Europe sometime in the future. They know how to get in the Christmas spirit - everything from out of this world light displays, museums turned ice rinks, christmas markets and over the top spectacular market/park hybrids (I am looking at you Winter wonderland at Hyde park) - they have got Christmas fun down. My favorite of the European Christmas line ups - the Christmas markets. I was fortunate to get to a few of them during my trip.
Christmas markets have always been on my Bucketlist and as soon as my trip to Europe was confirmed, I started looking at schedules for the markets. I really wanted to get to the markets in Strasbourg, France and Bruges, Brussels. However, my travel dates and plans could not accomodate an additional trip - so all christmas market plans were put on the back burner for the future (who knew future would be in Paris and just a week into my European excursion).
Village de Noel des Champs Elysees in Paris
My first evening in Paris, I headed to Champ de Elysses for a pre dinner stroll and stumbled on the most beautiful Christmas lights display and (icing on the cake) - the Champ de Elysse Christmas market (aka Village de Noel des Champs Elysees). Hot chocolate in hand from one of the food stalls, I started on the left side the famous avenue and walked all the way to Place de la Concorde, stopping for food, more hot chocolate and the Christmas village. Arriving at Place de la Concorde, I crossed over to the other side and made my way back down the avenue making stops for more hot beverages, a brief stop at the Ice rink and the thriller themed ride. This was my favorite of the three Christmas markets I visited because I got the best of both world -exploring the famous avenue and also get your fill of Christmas. This market runs through January 4th, 2016.
Christmas Market at the Tate Modern in London.
Christmas market. Tate Modern. I spent the last few days of my Europe trip in London. One of those days, I headed out to see the exhibits at the Tate Modern when I stumbled onto the Christmas market at the Tate Modern, This market was smaller than the Paris market, but it still delivered - everything from mulled wine, to crafts shops and decocaration. It was a much initimate Christmas market and a whole lot of fun to check out. If you find yourself here, I suggest starting out a little bit early, check out the latest exhibition at the Tate Modern (they have some fantastic ones at the moment), then make your way to the terrace of the sixth floor of the Tate Modern to capture this incredible view of the market and St. Paul's Cathedral. Then make your way down to checkout the market. It runs through December 23rd.
Winterwonderland at Hyde Park in London.
The first night I went to Winterwonderland - we got rained out and bailed within twenty minutes of arriving. I returned the next evening, but was hurried because I had to get back to catch an early flight back to Dallas the next morning. In the little time I spent at Hyde park - I have to say, this is the motherload of Christmas markets. It is part market, part circus, part carnival. You got an ice rink, a Magical Ice Kingdon with frozen scultures and ice castles. There is so much to do here - I don't think one evening is sufficient to explore this place. If you are headed to Winterwonderland, visitlondon.com has some great tips, check it out here.
The other three Christmas markets that made my list, but I did not get to on this trip - Strasbourg , France christmas market which has ranked the best Christmas market in Europe two years running. The Christmas market in Vienna where celebrities read Christmas stories and Christmas market in Brugges - I once heard someone describe this as the cherry on top of Christmas markets.
Have you been to any of these ? or Do you have additional recommendations for my list ?