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Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Best Christmas Markets in Europe: Best Christmas Markets in Europe: Stuttgart
Courtesy of Esslinger Stadtmarketing & Tourismus

Stuttgart, Germany

The massive, 318-year-old market, set amid the city's gabled houses hung with fir branches and angels, sprawls across several historic center squares between the Gothic cathedral and ivy-clad castle. Vendors in some 270 stalls sell wooden toys, glass baubles, nutcrackers, and sheepskin clothing, along with sheep ham, sheep sausages, sheep's-milk cheese, waffles, gingerbread, roasted almonds, and Hutzelbrot (fruitcake). In the evening, grab a warm Glühpunsch wine scented with cinnamon and vanilla and amble into the Old Castle's Renaissance courtyard for the daily Christmas concert (6pm weekdays, 5pm weekends). For the kiddies, the Kinderland on Schlossplatz offers rides (carousel, Ferris wheel, mini steam railway) and some hands-on holiday experiences like making candles.

Look For: There are fantastic thematic markets in a pair of satellite towns, each just 15 minutes away on the S-Bahn light rail system. The Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market includes fire-eaters and live medieval music as a backdrop to costumed craftsmen creating leather apparel, calligraphy, silver jewelry, baked goods, and hand-dyed clothing. The Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market consists of tidy stalls overseen by massive sets of twinkling angel wings under the floodlit facades of the baroque main square.

Dates: Late Nov.–Dec. 23

For More Info: stuttgarter-weihnachtsmarkt.de

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