The Christmas Kaleidoscope- Munich’s Christmas Markets
A visit to the Munich Christmas Market is truly a lifetime experience. The aroma of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, freshly baked gingerbread, burning candles, fir needles create an overwhelming feeling. Singing Christmas carols with all the children who are present on the premise in the sensational atmosphere is an enticing experience for the crowds of Munich. The well adorned evergreen boughs look quite different. Toys, decorations and candies beam with the small lights. There is no dearth of entertainment and amusement. The entire market shines with the smiles of the celebrants.
The Christmas markets invite all the citizens of Munich to come and buy a range of winter essentials at the onset of the cold season. Today, purchasing necessary goods is a tradition of Christmas and that’s why shopkeepers emphasize on that as well. To watch and buy terracotta items, wax and woods you can visit Kripperlmarkt (Neuhauser Strasse).
Another market called Christkindlmarkt, is held four weeks before the festival of Christmas. ‘Christkind’ means Christmas’s child. The Christkindlmarkt is situated around a 30 meters tall Christmas tree, placed in front of the city hall on Marienplatz. The tree looks awesome when it is adorned with more than 3000 electric candles. The best part of Munich is that it has various attractive markets almost in every quarter of Munich. Medieval Christmas Fair at Wittelsbacher Platz is organized amidst a practically genuine medieval ambience. Potters, Goldsmiths and glassblowers carry out their trade here.
Tollwood Winterfestival, is a perfect alternative of a customary Christmas market. Innumerable city dwellers flock to the place to enjoy lectures, concerts, plays and other kinds of arty performances. Indulge in hot caipirinhas and savor the taste of organic Christmas cookies.
Make it happen:
Closest airport: Munich International Airport (munich- airport.de)
Muenchen.de; Munich Tourist Office, Marienplatz 2
Currency: € 1= 66.
Visa: Apply personally if you are the first time traveler to the Schengen area ( 4000 plus 640 VFS processing fees applicable in New Deli and Chennai; processing time- Two working days). Places where you can apply at- German Consulate General (mumbai.diplo.de) or New Delhi and Chennai, through VFS centers (vfs-germany.co.in)
Getting around: Munich’s public transport, MVV, includes the U-Bahn, S- Bahn (Several train systems), buses and trams. Marienplatz is a significant stop on Munich’s U –Bahn and S- Bahn network, another stop on the U-Bahn is Odeonsplatz, as is Theresienwiese. For Neuhauser Strasse, take the U-Bahn and S- Bahn to Karisplatz (mvv-muenchen.de; single ticket 160, day ticket 350.).
Brussels celebrates the wonderful winter season with fun and hoopla. The city hosts a fabulous Christmas market, featuring 240 chalets, dotted across the Grand place around the Bourse. The city goes into the mood of celebration when the entire territory is adorned with different types of lights. Steamed snails, preserves, gingerbread, chocolate, mulled wine, served warm, mulled wine and different kinds of spicy foods are enjoyed by the inhabitants during the festival of Christmas (plaisirsdhiver.be/en/page.html; Nov-25- Jan-2; 12 pm- 9pm Mon- Thur, 11 am- 10 pm Fri- Sun, 11am- 6pm Dec 24 and 31, 12pm- 10pm Dec 25 and Jan 1; entry free)
Visit the Village de Noel de Liega, the Christmas village, in Liege. Don’t forget to collect blown- glass and hand painted artifacts. These artifacts are designed around characters from Liege’s folklore. Lovers of famed Chimay beer and regional cheese should visit sledge slope and Ardennes Cottage (00-32-0-4-254-9797; villagedenoel.be; on the Place St Lambert and Place du Marche in Liege; weekdays 11am- 8pm, weekends 10am- 10pm, Nov 25- Dec 30; entry free).
Make it happen:
Closest Airport: Brussels International Airport (brusselsairport.be)
Address: Brussels Tourist Office: 00-32-2-513-8940; visitbrussels.be; rue Royale 2
Currency: € 1= 66.
Visa: It takes two to five working days to process (vfs-be-in.com, 4545, inclusive of VFS fees).
Getting around: Avail a metro to Sainte Catherine in Brussels (stib.be; single ticket 105, day pass 275). In Liege, local buses are available to Place St Lambert (infotec.be; single ticket 105, day pass 210).
A visit to the Orchard Road during Christmas is going to be a feast for your senses. Night time performances, parades and colorful festive displays mark the commencement of Christmas season. Partake in the grand and striking concert along with the city dwellers to enjoy line-dancing, charity and an eventful fair. Ride on an open top bus to watch the sight of the city. The bus will take you through the market. The light up display is particularly stunning with different sections lit up in different color schemes. Every edifice around the city is adorned with chains of lights. Each of them competes with each other for the title of the “Best Dressed Buildings”. The eye catching splendor of Orchard Road attracts innumerable tourists and holiday makers. Singapore is the place to visit during Christmas (00-65-6733-1700; orchardroad.org; Nov 19-Jan 2).
Make it happen:
Closest Airport: Singapore Changi Airport (changiairport.com)
Address: Singapore Visitors Centre: 00-65-6736-2000; Orchard Rd [jn of Cairnhill and Orchard Rds]; 9:30am – 10:30pm every day.
Currency: 1 Singapore Dollar= 38.
Visa: Apply for visas through recognized agents; (List of agents and Form 14A available on mfa.gov.sg; 1125, authorized agents charge an additional 300). It is wise to apply from an e-visa through an approved agent.
Getting around: There are three prime MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) stations near Orchard Road; Orchard, Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut. Frequent bus services are provided by SBS (Singapore Bus Service) Transit and SMRT, to Orchard Road. Taxi stands are available at all hotels (smrt.com.sg; from 40).
The period of the onset of Christmas is very special for the people of Switzerland. The preparations for the celebration begin long before the date of Christmas. The atmosphere is phenomenal in Rhine, Basel. The old city of Switzerland is popularly known as the most beautiful Christmas city as well. The city edifices beam with different types of lights. The dotted shops and buildings sparkle during the festive season. The street is hidden in the darkness of pine trees which are standing tall in a queue at the roadside. The city looks amazing as it is well decorated with lights which are hanged around the branches of the pine trees. The longest illuminated Christmas Street in Europe, live performances, shopping festivals and visiting the oldest Christmas market of Switzerland will be an enticing and memorable experience. The best way to enjoy the occasion in Switzerland is to avail a Christmas tour package. The festival of light and color in the fantasy land of Switzerland is a must watch one. The Basel’s Christmas market is a pleasant treat for the eyes (Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz; 11am- 8pm Nov 25- Dec-25).
Make it happen
Closest Airport: Euroairport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg (euroairport.com).
Address: Basel Tourist Information: 00-41-61-268-6868; basel.com; SBB Railway Station and Stadt-Casino, at Barfusserplatz
Currency: 1 Swiss Franc= 55
Visa: It is required for the Indian citizens to apply for a Swiss visa. It takes 5 days for processing it if you apply it through VFS (vfs-ch-in.com; 4200 plus 607 VFS processing fees).
Getting around: Basel’s public transport is the best possible way to get around the city (bvb.ch; single ticket 131).
The City Hall Square (Rathaus) of Vienna houses the oldest market of Europe, Christkindlmarkt. It’s a prime attraction for the tourists and the place gets crowded during Christmas as well (christkindlmarkt.at; 10am-9:30 pm Nov 12-Dec 24, until 10 pm Fri and Sat, until 5 pm Dec 24).
People who are interested to collect some astonishing artifacts and gluhwein (mulled wine) should take a walk to the delightful and amiable Spittelberg Christmas market from Rathaus. The marvelous market is located at the backend of MuseumsQuatier. The wonderful market, situated in the diminutive streets of Wien, is a non commercial market and hence reasonably priced.
Another nearby place, called Schonbrunn Palace Christmas market, showcases impressive and striking handmade bubbles, culinary delights and performances (weihnachtsmarkt.co.at; Parade Court; 10 am- 9 pmdaily Nov 19- Dec 26, 10 am- 4 pm Dec-24, 10 am-6 pm Dec 25 and 26; bicycles and dogs not allowed).
A large number of people of Austria flock to the alpine city of Innsbruck. The Christmas markets are wide spread across the town. The panoramic sights of the surrounding mountains look amazing from the shopping street of Maria- Theresien- Strasse, at the Marktolatz and at Hungerburg. Crowds gather at the market place and enjoy with souvenirs and traditional food (christkindlmarkt.cc; Old Town: 11am- 8pm daily Nov 15- Dec 23, Maria- Theresien- Strasse: 11am- 8pm Nov 25- Jan 6, 11am-3 pm Dec-24, Dec 25 closed, Marktplatz; 11am – 9pm daily Nov 15- Dec 23, Hungerburg; 12pm- 7pm Nov 25- Dec 27, Dec 2-4, Dec 8-11, Dec 16-18).
Make it happen
Closest airport: Vienna International Airport (viennaairport.com)
Currency: € 1= 66
Visa: If you apply for a visitor’s visa then you can stay in Vienna maximum for 90 days. Apply at VFS centres in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai (vfs-austria.co.in; 3980, plus 598 for VFS service charge).
Address: Vienna Tourist Information Centre: wien.info; Vienna 1, Albertinaplatz/ Maysedergasse, behind the Vienna State Opera
Getting around: Vienna’s public transport system includes the U-Bahn, trams and buses (wienerlinien.at; single ticket 118, day pass 375). If you are planning to visit Innsbruck, then avail a train from Vienna’s Westbahnhof. Innsbruck’s public transport system is a good option to get around the city (oebb.at; day pass 275).
The largest Christmas market of France is located at the adjoining area of Strasbourg’s gorgeous cathedral. The Christmas market was inaugurated in 1970. The best crowd puller is the Christmas tree in the vicinity. The chorus performances on the streets pull huge number of people from faraway places as well. Stroll in and around the territory to watch the vista of the neighboring places. Take a walk and visit Bredle Market to grab a quick bite at the Christmas cakes (noel.strasbourg.eu; Nov 26- Dec 31).
For a charming shopping experience, holiday makers should visit Lille Christmas market. Arts and crafts of Poland, Russia and Canada are on display. Watch a 164 feet Big wheel in the market complex. The arrival of Father Christmas who descends the 262 feet belfry of the Chamber of Commerce draws the attention of the visitors (takes place on the Saturday before Christmas; noel-a-lille.com; Nov 18- Dec 30, Ferris wheel opens Nov 25, open daily except Dec 25).
Make it happen
Closest airport: Paris, Strasbourg and Lille have airports; Trip to France from Paris via TGV is also possible (tgv-europe.com).
Currency: € 1= 66
Address: Strasbourg Tourism Office: 00-33-388-522-828; otstrasbourg.fr; 17, Place de la Cathedrale. A number of buses and trams stop at Strasbourg Cathedral. Lille Tourist Office: 00-33-559-579-400; lilletourism.com; Palais Rihour, Place Rihour.
Visa: Short term, single and multiple entry visas are available. (Vfs-france.co.in; 3947, plus 750 VFS processing fees, you need a prior appointment). To get the Biometric Visa you need 2 working days.
Getting around: Strasbourg’s public transport is efficient (cts-strasbourg.fr; single ticket 98, day pass 260). Lille’s bus-underground-tram-coach network is excellent. (single 90 and day pass 260).
It is comparatively a younger market of entire Europe. However, Galway’s Continental Christmas Market becomes the central attraction every year. The mini wonderland, Eyre Square, looks marvelous during winter as more than 28 different countries showcase wide variety of crafts, gifts, bohemian crystal, wooden toys , scented candles, hand-made jewelry, ceramic mugs, hats, scarves, traditional puppets and Christmas tree decorations in 70 stalls. Hundreds of celebrants gather at the spot to purchase quality items of their choice. It will not only be a feast for the senses but you can enjoy the feast of fresh hot food and drink during Christmas as well. German beer, mulled wine, mince pies, hot sausages should be tasted. The market houses the ‘Santa’s Grotto’, with proceeds going to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) and enable Ireland (galwaychristmasmarket.ie; Eyre Square, Galway; 10am- 10pm Nov 25- Dec 18; entry free).
Make it happen:
Closest airport: Galway Airport (galwaysirport.com). The only airline that flies to Galway via Dublin, the UK and Continental Europe is Aer Aranna.
Address: Tourist Information Office: 00-353-91-537-700; discoverireland.ie; Aras Falite, Forster Street, Galway City Centre
Currency: € 1= 66
Visa: It would take seven working days to process a single-entry, short-stay visa to Republic of Ireland ( 4300). Up until October 2012, if you hold a valid UK visa then you can visit Republic of Ireland (Visit irelandinindia.com for complete information).
Getting around: Avail the Bus Eireann (buseireann.ie; 118).
Lincoln, the oldest market of the entire UK, takes place between the Norman Castle and the cathedral each year. Street theatre and local choirs that perform by candlelight are the prime and foremost enticements of the Christmas market (00-44-15-22-545-458; visitlincoln.com; Lincoln Visitor Information Centre: 9, Castle Hill; 4pm-9:30pm Dec 1, 10am- 9:30pm Dec 2, 10am-9:30pm Dec 3, 10am-7pm Dec 4).
Another impressive market takes place at the winter wonderland in Hyde Park. Ice-skating rinks, circuses, Ferris wheels, rides, gifts and handicraft stalls are the chief interests. Plenty of cuisines from different parts of the world are available in the market (5pm-10pm Nov 18, 10am-10pm Nov 19-Jan 3, closed on Dec 25, Christmas market: entry free, rides, ice-skating and circus: 530 for an adult and 380 for a child.
The market in Edinburgh is another famous and noteworthy destination. Delicious delicacies and vivacious atmosphere are the prime attractions for the tourists (edinburghschristmas.com; Nov 25- Dec 25). Another popular destination for the tourists is Bath market, held near Bath Abbey. This will continue for one extra week this year (bathchristmasmarket.co.uk; Nov 24- Dec 11).
Make it happen:
Closest airport: London Heathrow Airport (heathrowairport.com)
Currency: £1 = 77
Visa: A shirt term visa (single of multiple) is valid for up to six months. More often than not it takes 2 weeks to process the visa but it depends on the place where the application is submitted ( 6100).
Getting around: London Underground (tfl.gov.uk) and National Rail (nationalrail.co.uk).
Arjuna Flea Market, Goa
It’s not just on the markets but Portuguese influence is there on each and everything of Goa. This December, colorful Goa once again will enjoy a fabulous time with lot of joy and bliss. The sight of Arjuna Flea Market looks particularly wonderful during Christmas every year. The maze like lanes and streets look different and more congested with the assortment of various stalls, lined up at the roadsides. This is a sought after destination for all the tourists of Goa. It’s a shopping carnival for all the shopping lovers. Don’t miss the grandeur and flair of the market during Christmas. Trinkets, Indian crafts, jewelry and wide range of other knick-knacks are the crowd pullers (Arjuna, North Goa).
Mumbai and Delhi
Indo- German Chamber of Commerce organizes the markets in Mumbai and Delhi and these markets are quite authentic. The main motive behind organizing these markets is to restore the magic of the traditional outdoor Christmas bazaars of Nuremberg. There is no dearth of fun, frolic, foods or entertainments. Children who are present there can enjoy puppet shows, fire-jugglers, magic show and many more entertainment shows. A special corner of the market is designed for the entertainment of the kids. All the fabulous dishes and items which are very important for the enjoyment are available there. Enjoy the festivity with the German sausages, beer, wine and other traditional German Christmas items like lebkuchen (gingerbread cakes), christollen (Christmas cake) and traditional gluhwein. If you are among the lucky lot then you can get to see the Santa taking snaps with your children. Visit the nearby market to make this festivity very special (indien.ahk.de; Mumbai: Royal Western Indian Turf Club, Mahalaxmi Racecourse, Keshavrao Khadye Marg, Mahalaxmi; 11am- 8pm; 200; Dec 3-4, 2011; Delhi: German House, Chanakyapuri; Dec 3-4, 2011).
New Market, Kolkata
The festive mood is quite prominently visible on the bright faces of the people who visit the New Market, Kolkata for buying different items. Women and little children of Kolkata make their way to the market. Some of them haggle with salesmen and buy foods and fruits from the roadside shops. The smell of delicious Christmas treats fills the air of the Market. The nearby Nahoum and Sons, a bakery that sells some of the amazing and well-made plum cakes around, hardly gets any time to take rest during Christmas. MX D’Gama’s or Maxo’s is another fabulous spot where celebrants congregate at for purchasing tasty and yummy plum puddings. Don’t forget to buy some gifts for your near and dear ones to keep the Christmas spirit alive from the land of sondesh and Rasogollas (Lindsay St, just off Chowringhee Road; 10am- 8pm Mon-Fri, till 2:30 pm Saturday; closed on Sunday).
Valkenburg is an interesting place to be at during this Christmas in Holland. The Christmas market showcases innovative items in a cave under the ruins of an ancient castle. The huge Velvet cave looks like a labyrinth of passageways. A number of stalls are dotted around the passages of the cave. Even though the tourists can purchase numerous items from this Christmas fair but Bona fide hand-crafted Dutch products are the prime and foremost allurements. Warmly lit and merrily decorated, the grotto, showcases beautiful murals and impressive sculptures. It is going to be an enticing and unique experience for you all (kerstmarktgemeentegrot.nl/en; Doorway is at the foot of Cauberg Hill; Nov 18- Dec 23; 12pm-9pm Mon-Fri, 10am- 9pm Sat-Sun, until 6pm Dec 23, 292 adult, 130 5-12 years, free for children under 4 years).