With Christmas coming up fast, most people will now be bracing themselves for the upcoming inevitable shopping spree. Personally I can’t think of anything I enjoy less than Christmas shopping in packed centres up and down the country and I know there will be some reading this who agree. But stay with me guys. There is a more enjoyable way to undertake this essential part of the shopping calendar and no, I’m not talking about doing it online. It comes in the joyous form of the Christmas Markets that we see pop up across the whole of Europe each year. These Christmas Markets are great for finding gifts and also add a real traditional sense of what Christmas is about; which can sometimes get lost as you stand in a queue in Argos for 45 minutes.
They have been around for centuries, but have really taken off over the last few years, with thousands of holiday makers travelling across Europe to see for themselves the winter wonderland displays on offer. Obviously a trip to one of these Christmas Markets would be great for all the family, and provide a unique and fun way for people to get their Christmas shopping done, experience the local culture and try some traditional Christmas cuisine. With some of the settings and exhibitions in place, I dare say even I would enjoy it.
England has its very own versions of course, with perhaps the biggest and best in Birmingham. But as ever, we here at ACE-FX have had a look at some of the upcoming markets that will be appearing across the continent in the near future. Here are some we’ve picked out:
- Basel, Switzerland – November 27th – December 23rd
The Christmas Market in Basel is noted mainly for being the largest in Switzerland. This part of Basel is transformed in the run up to Christmas with a variety of shows, events and exhibitions giving this particular market a more cultural experience than others.
- Barcelona, Spain – November 28th – December 23rd
Most holiday makers would never usually pick Spain out as a winter destination, bu
t the Christmas Market in Barcelona is beginning to change opinion. Set in front of the spectacular Cathedral in the city centre it offers a distinctly Basque take on Christmas. The market is noted in particular for the smaller items on sale such as mistletoe, decorations etc. and is also a great place to buy props for anyone putting on a nativity play show this year.
- Vienna, Austria – November 15th – December 24th
The original home of the Christmas Market. The original markets can be dated back to the 13th century. Obviously things have changed considerably since then, but strolling around the markets in Vienna provide a real sense of history and tradition in Austria’s capital. There are usually around 20 markets that pop up across the city and run right up until Christmas Eve. A must also for tasting the chocolate Christmas treats as well of course.
- Vilnius, Lithuania – November 29th – January 11th
I think it’s fair to say that Lithuania doesn’t hold back when it comes to Christmas. The capitals television tower is used as a Christmas tree for goodness sake! Standing at 550ft tall it really is an astonishing sight and provides a great backdrop for the markets taking place below. Lithuanian cuisine is also in full flow with a host of pastries and cakes on offer. In terms of gifts, holiday makers are in the right place to buy hats, scarves and gloves, all of which are made locally. To finish things off and complete the feeling of goodwill, there is also an International Charity Fair, which raises money through the sale of cakes and gifts.
- Strasbourg, France – November 28th – December 31st
Consistently voted among the best Christmas Markets Europe has to offer. The main reason for this being the real traditional vibe that Strasbourg creates. The self-proclaimed ‘Capital Of Christmas’ has markets dating back to 1570, the markets of Strasbourg still feel warm and welcoming, with the windy cobbled streets allowing home-owners and craftsmen alike to decorate accordingly. There are 11 villages that can be explored, each providing something different, with gifts and decorations in abundance. But the main constant are the delicious biscuits on offer. They come in a variety of flavours and are to be designed to hang on your Christmas tree… if they make it that far!
So, there are many ways to do your Christmas shopping that don’t put your health at risk! Christmas is a time to spend with your family and have fun, the Christmas Markets around Europe are a great way to do this, and also have a winter holiday too.
In terms of currency available, the Euro is readily available at any of our stores to collect. Other European currencies such as the Swiss Franc, Swedish Kroner, and Polish Zloty etc. are best to be ordered via our website by clicking on the ‘collection’ link and following the instructions to collect in-store. Of course our nationwide postal delivery service is also available for those outside of London.
The Euro has taken a slight dip over the last few days, so best to get it now in advance of any winter breaks so as to guarantee a still relatively high rate.
If you are planning a trip to Lithuania then you should take note that the Lita (the local currency) will be going out of circulation in January. We are still able to sell it, but you are best ringing us in advance to make sure.