December is finally here which means we can start putting up the tinsel and decorating the tree, and if you’re thinking of spending your Christmas holidays abroad this year then you’ll want to start planning now.
This Christmas why not swap the annual slog around the great British high street for a stunning city break in Europe, or beyond, complete with a visit to some of the world’s biggest Christmas markets? Below, we’ve included our top five Christmas markets that you should consider visiting this year and how we would get you there.
Winterfest Christmas Markets, Hong Kong
Airport: Hong Kong International
Travel Time: 13 hours
Suggested Jet: Dassault Falcon 7X (14 seats)
As if that skyline wasn’t reason enough to visit, Hong Kong’s Winterfest markets have fast become one of the city’s star attractions. Full of Christmas cheer, like everything else in the city, the markets are big, bright and full of colour. Winterfest consists of several markets in various locations in the city, but the largest one is situated in North Statue Square and is open all through the month of December, setting up its stalls on November 29th and taking them down on New Year’s Day. There is also the Glittering Christmas Village on Lantau Island, which is well worth a visit. There you can expect the full festive works, including Christmas carols, fake snow, and some great food and shopping opportunities. And, if you fancy some festive sightseeing, you can always visit Victoria Peak and make a wish at the market’s Twinkle Twinkle Wishing Star.
Schönbrunn Palace Market, Vienna, Austria
Airport: Vienna International
Travel Time: 2 hours
Suggested Jet: Cessna Citation XLS (8 seats)
Schönbrunn Palace is an impressive sight as it is, but even more so over Christmas, when the large square in front of the palace is filled with seasonal decorations and festive cheer. The markets open on November 23rd and as many as 80 stall holders travel from Austria and its surrounding countries to sell their wares. There is a traditional Christmas soundtrack, provided by local musicians, brass bands, carol singers, choirs and gospel groups.
Christkindlmarket, Chicago, US
Airport: Chicago Midway
Flight Time: 8hrs 30mins
Suggested Jet: Bombardier Global 6000 (14 seats))
Set up as a little European village in winter – complete with timber houses, Christmas trees and fairy lights – the Christkindlmarket in Chicago takes inspiration from its namesake in Nuremberg, the world’s oldest Christmas market (having first taken place in 1545). Held at Daley Plaza, the festivities attract more than a million visitors each year. Many of the stall holders travel to the Second City from Germany, so expect lots of traditional German food, handcrafted toys and glass steins, and a flavour of European flair.
Dubai Christmas Festival Markets, Dubai, UAE
Airport: Dubai Al Maktoum International
Flight Time: 7 hours
Suggested Jet: Embraer Legacy 650 (13 seats)
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, Dubai’s Christmas market is the least traditional on this list. The city is often lauded for its modernity, and there’s very little in the way of traditional Christmas offerings. Instead of quaint, European-style huts selling handmade crafts, Eggnog, mulled wine and festive food, Dubai offers huge discounts and savings on the world’s biggest brands. Dubai is a shopper’s paradise at the best of times, but even more so over the Christmas holidays. Here, visitors will find huge concessions from global brands, while the city’s top restaurants host food tasting sessions. But, if you get a little tired of Dubai’s uber-modern approach to Christmas, you can visit the child-friendly Winter Festival, which takes place between the 8th– 10th of December. Or, you can take in a short and sweet performance of Peter Pan at the Media City Amphitheatre.
Cologne Christmas Markets, Cologne, Germany
Airport: Cologne International
Flight Time: 1hr 15mins
Suggested Jet: Cessna Citation XLS (8 seats)
Cologne is home to seven Christmas markets, all of which open on the last Monday before Advent. The four largest markets among the seven are located at Cologne Cathedral, Alter Markt, Neumarkt and on the Rudolfplatz. However, the market located at Stadtgarten, Cologne’s oldest park, is also worth a visit. The German markets are famous for their gingerbread house-style huts covered in baumschmuck (tree decorations) and their nativity figures and nutcrackers. You can also watch traditional glassblowers, blacksmiths and wreath-makers at work as you wander through.