European Christmas Markets

Too often, the simple magic of the holidays gets lost in the drudgery of modern mall shopping and traffic jams at Christmas time. About 20 years ago, experienced travelers to Europe began pioneering a better way to enjoy the holidays and do their Christmas shopping all at once. These travelers discovered the European Christmas markets, where shopping for gifts combined easily with the excitement of travel overseas.

Christmas markets have been a tradition throughout Europe for generations, as people — in big cities and small villages — found common ground by coming together in town squares to drink hot wine, listen to carols, and buy gifts that are attached to warmer memories than we Americans can find in the tangle of holiday sales at the mall.

Supposedly, the first Christmas market was held in Dresden, Germany, in 1434. Originally, the idea was to give the people of the city a chance to buy fresh food directly from farmers for the holidays. But over the years, craftsmen and performers have added to the offerings, and now the Christmas markets are full blown festivals that celebrate each town and city′s local flavor.

There′s no better time — the markets run from the first Sunday after Nov. 26, until Christmas Eve — to experience Europe in one of its most intimate and authentic expressions. The markets themselves add a real atmosphere to town centers. The humbly constructed wooden stalls, strung with branches of pine and hanging lanterns, are accentuated by the sounds of holiday music, Christmas plays, and steaming cups of hot Gluhwein (mulled wine) and cider.

Trafalgar Tours′ nine-day “Christmas Markets of Germany & France” tour explores the tradition in some of the best Christmas markets in Germany and the Alsace region of France. The tour visits Munich, Augsburg, Nuremberg and Strasbourg, and, along the way, travelers are given orientation tours and plenty of ample free time to explore and shop on their own. The Christmas spirit is further heightened by visits to Augsburg′s Cathedral, Nuremberg′s St. Sebald Church, as well as Munich′s Beer Halls, Heidelberg′s Castle, Lake Constance, and a canal cruise through Strasbourg.

Interested in exploring the magical European Christmas markets?  Trafalgar Tours′ nine-day “Christmas Markets of Germany & France” tour explores the tradition in some of the best Christmas markets in Germany and the Alsace region of France. The tour visits Munich, Augsburg, Nuremberg and Strasbourg, and, along the way, travelers are given orientation tours and plenty of ample free time to explore and shop on their own. The Christmas spirit is further heightened by visits to Augsburg′s Cathedral, Nuremberg′s St. Sebald Church, as well as Munich′s Beer Halls, Heidelberg′s Castle, Lake Constance, and a canal cruise through Strasbourg.

For more information, or to book your vacation to Europe’s Christmas markets, contact your AAA Travel Professional at 1-800-529-3222 or visit AAA.com to find a professional near you.