Updated: Dec 27, 2021
Times are strange, in the UK, COVID restrictions are low, but cases are high, and across Europe, countries are somewhere on the continuum for both, but with diverse approaches to address them. This, of course, affects travellers plans over Christmas. So, while we're a bit more free than last year, there are still restrictions to be aware of.
This article will try to navigate the tricky world of Christmas travel in Europe, for those who love a Christmas market. And who doesn't!?
Stockings Full of Gifts
Budapest is Hung-a-ry (yup... had to be done) for business for UK travellers. If you're vaccinated you can stroll right in, if you're not you'll need to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior.
Onto the market. Budapest's effort is often amongst the top voted and most beautiful markets in the world. Christmas fair in Vörösmarty Square to the famous Advent Feast at St Stephen’s Basilica.
It runs from November 19th to December 31st, and is top of our recommendations for a Christmassy getaway this winter.
Believe it or not, Birmingham has been the spiritual home of the UK Christmas market since it moved in 21 years ago. It was regularly included in the best and biggest in Europe.
Having compared this classic with the more modern Manchester market, I'm afraid to say (as a native Brummie) that Manchester now has the edge. Fantastic food plus an authentic look and feel accompanies a vibrant atmosphere.
This year it runs from the 12th November to the 22nd December, and is our choice for a UK based Christmas market experience.
Germany, the real home of the Christmas market, and what all Christmas markets as we know them are based on. So it'll take some doing to be the best here!
That crown goes to Trier this year. A visitor described it as 'romantic with a wonderful ambiance', just as you may expect at a real authentic market.
Running from 19th December to 22nd December, this one is high on the Santa's wish list this Christmas. Be aware, you cannot enter Germany from the UK, if you are unvaccinated, unless you are German!
Coal for Christmas
Now this is a real shame. Basel Christmas market has been voted the best in Europe. However, current pandemic restrictions mean that if you plan to travel there from the UK, you will need to quarantine for 10 days, even if you're vaccinated and have a negative test.
On November 24th, the Czech government announced the cancellation of the Christmas market. One of its biggest tourist pulls of the year, and a miss for all of us winter travellers. The mayor is trying the overturn the decision, but a u-turn seems unlikely. Let's hope next year Prague is back in business.
Another popular market cancelled this year is Leeds. There are a variety of "Christmassy events" going on in the area, but the official event is a no-go. Fortunately for locals, the Manchester market is relatively not too far away. Hopefully 2023 will finally see a return of Leeds' Christmas Market.
There is still plenty to choose from this year if you are craving some Christmas spirit and gluhwein. Do be aware that other countries are in different phases of their COVID strategies and different cultures naturally have varying positions on crowded events; but, just to separate fact from speculation, these markets are somewhere on that Venn diagram of fabulous, and open.
You can still make it a December to Remember.
NB - Apologies for the Hungary pun, that was the Editor, Nick. Image placed here for all to shame him.