New York really gets into the festive spirit – just think how many Christmas films are set in the city. There’s loads to see, from the famous Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree to the department store windows, which are decorated for the season. And, of course, there’s the world-famous New Year’s Eve party in Times Square. But, if that wasn’t enough, New York City’s Christmas markets are the perfect excuse for a trip to the Big Apple. Head to the Winter Village in Bryant Park, which is packed with stalls selling delicious treats and gifts, to pick up a souvenir unique to the city. Plus, pop your skates on and show off your skills on the ice rink. If you prefer the thought of an indoor market, opt for the Grand Central Holiday Fair, where you’ll find locally made goods like art and accessories, toys, jewellery and clothing. And, when you’ve finished your shopping, you’re not far from the Empire State Building, so you can round off your trip with a visit to the iconic skyscraper.
To get the real European Christmas market experience, head to Prague. There are two main spots to visit, and you can see both on the same trip. You’ll find the city’s biggest market at the Old Town Square, while the second largest at nearby Wenceslas Square is just a five-minute walk away. Expect carolling and Czech crafts, plus street food like spit-roasted ham, pancakes, and barbequed sausages. The Christmas tree lights are switched on in both squares every evening, accompanied by live music – grab some medovina, a hot honey wine, to sip on while you watch the show. Plus, the markets are open on Christmas Day too, if you’re around for the big event. And, if you book our Christmas Markets of Prague tour, you’ll get to visit the former mining city of Kutna Hora as part of your trip.
Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is the perfect winter wonderland for your Christmas market excursion, as the snow starts in December, just in time for the festive season. Iceland’s longest running market is in Hafnarfjörður, not far from Reykjavik, and it’s famous for its connection to elves – which we think is pretty fitting for a Christmas break. Expect stalls selling festive decorations, food and hot drinks, all with an Icelandic twist. Or, for something out of the ordinary, head out into the Heiðmörk woods on the outskirts of the city for the annual open-air Christmas market and Christmas tree sale. Alongside exploring the wooden huts, you’ll be treated to poetry readings and live music from local writers and musicians, plus performances by a choir.
Did you know you can find a German-style Christmas market in Bangkok? True, Thailand’s not the spot for a traditional Christmas break – but, with average daily temperatures sitting at 26C, you can spend the festive season on the beach. And, you can do it without missing out on your favourite traditions, like German pastries and mulled wine. There are also board games and creative workshops like glass painting and bag making to get stuck into, so you can make the perfect stocking filler to take home. Thai Christmas markets only tend to hang around for a few days, so make sure you check the dates before setting off.
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As the home of Santa Claus himself, Lapland offers up the ultimate Christmas market break. Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi has loads for little ones, including reindeer rides and excursions to the ‘forest of the elves’. Meanwhile, you can fill your bags with Finnish goodies, and bellies with traditional food and drink. Or, head further north to visit the Levi Christmas Market, a magical, snow-covered village where you can watch fairy lights twinkling as you browse the crafts and goods on offer, then warm up with a spiced wine.
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Tick off one of Europe’s best Christmas markets on board our TUI River Cruises itinerary, Yuletide Wonders. Dubbed the ‘Capital of Christmas’, Strasbourg’s markets take over the entire city for six weeks at the end of November, and don’t scrimp on the festive decoration. Make sure to visit Place Kléber, where a huge Christmas tree towers over the square. Grab a pair of ice skates and stretch your legs on the ice rink, or head to Strasbourg Cathedral to see the huge nativity scene. Doing some Christmas shopping? Weave between the clusters of wooden chalets selling snow globes, tree decorations, handmade scarves and jewellery, and candles to pick up gifts and souvenirs. And, if you haven’t had your fill of festive fun after a day here, there’s plenty more to be had on the rest of the itinerary – which ticks off Frankfurt, Speyer, Plittersdorf and Mainz.
Find out more about our TUI River Cruises itineraries
Foodies are in for a treat with TUI SENSATORI Punta Cana’s swish gourmet dining scene. The four pools, activities, entertainment and beachfront location are just as impressive.
There’s a lot to be said about the all-action TUI MAGIC LIFE Fuerteventura, starting with the views. From its high-up position above the beach, you can look out towards the horizon from most of the property.
TUI BLUE Jadran impresses with its beachfront location, design-led interiors, and selection of restaurants.
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