Forget 2020. Although, Covid or not, Christmas is here, the fun of fairs and markets is not with us this year and it’s impossible to ignore that, along with pine trees aromas, there’s coronavirus in the air.
Better to look ahead to presumably happier times and start planning the next Christmas vacation.
In an effort to spread a message of hope and encouragement and to help travelers with their vacation planning for next year, the European Best Destination organization(EBD) invited people from all over the world to vote for the Christmas markets of their dreams.
Over 100,000 travelers from 121 countries answered the question: “Where would you like to spend Christmas in Europe in 2021, (health situation permitting)?”
Some 66% of the voters are located in Europe and 34% from other countries, mainly the U.S., Canada, Australia and China.
Most of the Christmas markets and other traditional celebrations in Europe were canceled this year due to the epidemic, with disastrous effects for most of the people and organizations involved.
The winner for 2021 Best European Christmas Market was a surprise because it’s the first time that a Christmas market located in that country has won the title.
That market? Basel, Switzerland. Following it, the next 19 Christmas markets chosen by travelers for the title of ‘European Best Christmas Markets 2021’ are: Bath, Brussels, Bruges, Budapest, Dresden, Edinburgh, Govone, Madeira, Malaga, Manchester, Nuremberg, Poznan, Prague, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Tallinn, Tbilisi, Trier, Vienna and Vilnius.
Those destinations will be promoted throughout the year to millions of travelers and authorized to display the title “Best European Christmas Markets.”
1. Basel, Switzerland
Basel has a deep-rooted tradition as Switzerland’s most beautiful and largest Christmas city. Not only is the well-preserved Old Town radiant in the warm Christmas light with shops and facades glittering with a golden glow.
Around 100 tall pine trees line the streets guiding the visitor and Christmas markets are held not only on Barfüsserplatz, but also on Münsterplatz – one of the most beautiful squares in Basel.
Opening dates: November 25 to December 23, 2021
2. Budapest, Hungary
This year again Budapest takes the silver medal on the podium of Best Christmas Markets in Europe.
For 2021, the city already prepares for an even more festive and dazzling Christmas celebration. Advent Feast at the Basilica in Budapest is the favorite Christmas market in Hungary but also for the third year in a row, one of the three favorites in Europe. The organizers of this event work hard every year to offer what is certainly one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world.
Opening dates: November 19, 2021, to January 2, 2022
3. Poznan, Poland
This is not only a favorite Christmas market in Poland but also a best Christmas city break in Europe. The Poznan Christmas Market will take visitors to a magic winter land of ice, snowflakes and Christmas attractions. Original arrangements decorate the Old Market Square and Plac Wolności (Freedom Square) during this magical time.
Wooden stalls, winter delicacies, Christmas gifts and an International Ice Sculpture Festival are part of the attractions.
Opening dates: November 27 to December 23, 2021 (projected dates).
4. Vienna, Austria
Like every year, Vienna is at the top of the list of best Christmas markets in Europe. Considered a safe destination for families, it’s also popular with lovers and has been awarded among the best romantic destinations in Europe as well as one the best destinations for a marriage proposal.
From mid-November to Christmas, Vienna’s prettiest squares transform into magical Christmas markets with the aroma of Christmas-baked food and hot punch in the air.
One of the best-known Christmas Markets is the traditional “Vienna Magic of Advent,” which turns the City Hall Square into a shining fairytale land with Christmas gifts, tree decorations, candy and hot drinks as well as a carousel and craft Christmas workshops for kids. The trees of the surrounding City Hall park are festively decorated and radiate in a sea of lights.
Opening dates: From November 17 to December 25, 2021 (projected dates).
5. Brussels, Belgium
Winter Wonders is a favorite Christmas market in Belgium followed by Ghent, Antwerpen, Bruges and Liege. With around 2.5 million visitors, Winter Wonders is an event not to miss with Brussels done in its festive, brilliant costume.
Capital of Europe, Brussels for several years has been one of the Christmas capitals with Strasbourg, Budapest and Vienna. The teams in charge of this event set the bar higher every year to offer moments of pure magic to visitors.
Among the great classics: Sound and Light shows at the Grand-Place, a majestic tree, a life-sized manger, a skating rink, magical lights, many exhibitions and Christmas markets.
Opening dates: From November 26, 2021, to January 2, 2022 (projected dates).
6. Trier, Germany
Once again, Trier Christmas Market appears among the best in Europe. Now in its 42nd year, the Trier Christmas Market is known as one of the loveliest in Germany.
It’s set on the medieval Main Market with the imposing backdrop of the Trier Cathedral.
The Trier Christmas Market is often described by travel organizers as being “romantic with wonderful ambience.” It offers a large selection of delicious specialties such as the “Original Moselle Vintner Mulled Wine” and festive arts and crafts.
Opening dates: From November 19 to December 22, 2021 (projected dates).
7. Dresden, Germany
One of the largest and most authentic Christmas markets in Germany, it’s ranked every year among the best Christmas Markets in Europe.
It was first mentioned in 1434 when it was held to provide the citizens of Dresden with the meat for the Christmas meal. Since then, it has become a massive event with more than 200 stalls attracting up to 3 million visitors from around the world.
Christmas tales also come to life in the city’s theaters, with museums hosting special exhibitions and boats bejeweled with lights gliding along the Elbe river.
Opening dates: From November 26 to December 24, 2021 (projected dates).
8. Madeira, Portugal
Considered the safest Christmas destination in Europe (during the Covid-19 pandemic), Madeira has also been awarded the title of “Sunniest Christmas Market in Europe” and “Best Winter Sun Destination.”
Madeira celebrates to the fullest the arrival of the Christmas season with a traditional Christmas market held om the Avenida Arriaga central walkways, in the heart of its capital, Funchal.
A variety of products are on display, including exotic flowers and fruits, traditional souvenirs, typical delicacies and seasonal drinks — all adding to the merriment in a welcoming ambience that includes Christmas Carols and performances by folklore groups.
Opening dates: From December 1, 2021, to January 6, 2022 (projected dates).
9. Tbilisi, Georgia
The Capital of Georgia is a must-see destination at any time of the year. Included among the Best European Destinations but also voted one the Safest Destinations in Europe during Covid-19.
In Tbilisi, Christmas markets are held almost in every corner, with stalls offering handicrafts, souvenirs, Christmas treats, Georgian candies, street food and mulled wine. The end-of-year festivities include theater shows, music performances, puppet theater and open-air movies for all ages.
Opening dates: From December 25, 2021, to January 14, 2022 (confirmed dates).
10. Manchester, United Kingdom
The Manchester Christmas Markets is among the largest, most original and – arguably – the best Christmas market in the U.K.
Started in 1999, the first Christmas market in the U.K. has grown every year since, now attracting more than nine million visitors to its 300 beautifully crafted stalls spread across 10 individual sites – each with its own distinctive character and offering international food, drinks and finely crafted Yuletide gifts.
11. Govone, Italy
12. Vilnius, Lithuania
13. Tallinn, Estonia
14. Bruges, Belgium
15. Prague, Czech Republic
16. Edinburgh, Scotland
17. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
18. Nuremberg, Germany
19. Bath, United Kingdom
20. Malaga, Spain