The holiday season is a time of joy for people and families the world over. During the winter months, many VBT destinations play host to festive winter and holiday markets that have been traditions for centuries. Learn more about the food, music, and delightful holiday spirit that make each of these cultural festivals noteworthy destinations for travelers and locals alike—and check out our recommendations for what to buy!
What to Buy at the World's Best Holiday Markets
Posted on Monday, December 16th, 2019
Story by: Ashlea Sullivan | Travel Writer
A brilliant display of lights, live music and freshly prepared local cuisine such as fideos noodles with fresh black olives highlight the traditional holiday festival that runs annually in the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Cusco, Peru. Farmers, tradesmen, and craftsmen from surrounding Andean villages all convene on the square to sell handwoven garments, fresh-grown produce, and traditional candles, which many locals utilize in their home holiday displays.
Prague, Czech Republic
Holiday markets in Prague have been bringing tourists and locals together in the spirit of the season for centuries. Market stalls surrounding both the famed Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square throughout the season feature vendors offering handmade holiday ornaments, artisan jewelry, and wooden toys. Peruse the market with a tasty handmade langoš flatbread and a warm glass of Medovina, the region’s delectable honey wine.
The Fira de Santa Llúcia takes place annually in front of the city’s famed cathedral which has stood since the 14th century. Visitors to Barcelona’s oldest and most renowned holiday market are welcomed to a festive and interactive experience which is truly unforgettable. Fashion your own holiday decorations by selecting your own figuritas de Belén, or explore over 300 stalls offering artistically made decorations, art and gifts. You can also snack on Spanish holiday culinary traditions such as canelons — pasta topped with a creamy layer of rich cheese sauce, and torró —nougat prepared from fresh almonds.
Zagreb’s illustrious holiday market, hosted in and around Zrinjevac Square, places a particular emphasis on live music. As many as a dozen different music festivals take place during the three-week event, where you can feast on a variety of street foods like roasted sausage and vegetables paired with mulled wine. Best of all, lengthy sledding trails allow children and families to enjoy the outdoors in the heart of all the festivities.
The Toronto Christmas Market is one you can observe from above thanks to a large ferris wheel at the center of all the festivities. Located in the city’s venerable Distillery District, the market features a rotating schedule of musical entertainment ranging from carolers, choirs, and brass bands. Feast on artisan grilled cheese sandwiches and dessert treats such as grill-warmed potato pancakes served with applesauce and sour cream. Recent additions to the festival include interactive 3D displays that guests can share on social media.