The World’s Most Tempting Holiday Markets
Whether you’re charmed by the twinkling lights, soothed by carols or refreshed by traditional treats, holiday markets around the world have something to tempt you away from home during the Christmas season.
Nov. 10-Dec. 24
Budapest’s oldest and biggest Christmas Fair is in Vorosmarty Square, in the heart of the city. Gift stalls are only open until Dec. 24, but the food stalls — featuring cinnamon pastries, sausages, mulled wine, grilled vegetables and potato dumplings — stay open until Dec. 31. Every Sunday, an Advent candle is ceremonially lit. At nearby St. Stephen’s Square, visitors can ice skate, watch a laser show on St. Stephen’s Basilica’s façade or visit the holiday market there, where Hungarian artisans sell traditional crafts. The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest features holiday package options that include accommodations, breakfast, dinner and options like a hot stone massage or a skate rental voucher.
Nov. 17-Dec. 24
Chicago’s original Christkindlmarket, inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, grew so popular that in 2016, it was expanded to two locations: the original on Daley Plaza, and the second in the suburb of Naperville. There is also now a third market at Wrigley Field. All three markets offer crafts and other gifts, traditional German food and drinks, and holiday entertainment. The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago celebrates the holidays with a Signature Afternoon Tea at Torali café, with three seatings a day, Fridays through Sundays through Jan. 7.
San Francisco, California
Nov. 18-Dec. 17
San Francisco’s Cow Palace Exhibition Halls transform into Victorian London lanes on pre-Christmas weekends for The Great Dickens Christmas Fair. The fair features pubs, dance parties, music halls, theaters and shops. More than 800 costumed characters, some from the pages of Dickens’ novels, wander the lanes. If you’re in the mood, you can even don your own Victorian costume. General admission is $30 for adults, $14 for children and free for children under the age of 5. On weekends after Thanksgiving, The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco gets in on the holiday action with a Teddy Bear Tea to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Nov. 23-Dec. 24
A relative newcomer to the Christmas market scene, the Christmas Village in Philadelphia will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Located at LOVE Park, the village is modeled after traditional Christmas markets in Germany, featuring 80 booths selling food, sweets and drinks, as well as gifts like ornaments, jewelry and crafts. The village is just a few blocks away from The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia. After strolling through the market, head back to the hotel for hot chocolate at Aqimero. Served only from noon to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday from Nov. 24 through Jan. 5, the specialty hot chocolate menu features indulgent beverages at $12 a cup (for another $5, you can add the indulgence of the liquor of your choice).
Fira de Santa Llúcia
Nov. 24-Dec. 23
Vendors at Barcelona’s Fira de Santa Llúcia have been peddling crafts and culinary delights for more than 230 years. This year’s fair features 287 stands, with sections focused on Nativities and figures, greenery, crafts and traditional caroling instruments. This year, just steps from the fair at the Frederic Marès Museum, is a 35-square-meter Nativity scene. If you’re in town for the holidays, enjoy Christmas dinner at one of six restaurants at Hotel Arts Barcelona. Two of them — Arola Restaurant and the two-Michelin-starred Enoteca Paco Pérez — are offering special Christmas menus in the days up to and following the holiday.
Nov. 27-Dec. 31
With the Deutscher Dom on one side and the Französischer Dom on the other, the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market is located in what some call Berlin’s most impressive square. Large craft tents feature wood carvers, leather workers, dressmakers and more. There’s also a variety of art, snacks and gourmet offerings, and entertainment every day.
The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin celebrates the holidays with extensive brunches and a Christmas buffet. A St. Nicholas Afternoon Tea in the Tea Lounge on Dec. 9 gives kids a chance to meet the big man himself.
Shanghai’s longest-running Christmas market is the Christkindlmarkt at Paulaner Bräuhaus Expo. Styled after a traditional German market, it features decorated wooden huts peddling produce and handicrafts, as well as seasonal treats like mulled wine, gingerbread, sugar-roasted almonds and sausages. The Pearl, a historic theater, also hosts a weekend Christmas market (Nov. 25-26), but with a French theme. The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, will have a tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 1. The hotel’s four restaurants are offering holiday specials, from seasonal afternoon teas to festive Christmas dinners.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah has a holiday market and a North Pole train for kids, but also features more adrenaline-filled options like slides, bungee jumping and trampolines. If all the excitement leaves you worn out, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai is offering a special holiday-themed treatment at its luxury spa — a warming scrub and soothing back massage, all with the seasonal scent of sweet sugar, cinnamon and spice.