Bryant Park used to be the home of New York Fashion Week, but in December it’s home to one of New York’s best Christmas Markets. The Winter Village is full of activities, shops and places to tuck into some treats. And, to top it all off, there’s a massive ice rink where you can spin and slide into the festive spirit – entry’s free but you’ll have to rent some skates unless you packed your own. The Holiday Shops area is European-inspired, with over 120 boutiques offering everything you need to get your shopping wrapped up. They’re housed in custom-designed ‘jewel box’ kiosks – a New York spin on the traditional German wooden huts.
If you prefer the thought of an indoor market – New York does get pretty cold in the winter – you should head to the Grand Central Holiday Fair. They’re pretty selective about the exhibitors who’re allowed to sell their wares, so you’ll find more locally-made goods than imports. The fair fills Grand Central’s historic Vanderbilt Hall with art, accessories, toys, jewellery, clothing and plenty of other handmade goodies, and welcomes millions of visitors throughout December. After your shopping, you’re not far from the Empire State Building, so round off your trip with a visit to the iconic skyscraper.
Did you know you can find a German-style Christmas Market in Bangkok? Combine average daily temperatures of 26 degrees with all the German pastries and mulled wine you could want – sounds pretty good to us. You’ll find the market at the ‘Goethe Institut’ – Germany’s worldwide cultural institute.
As well as browsing for gifts, you can also join in with activities designed to spark your Christmas spirit. Think cosy board games and creative workshops like glass painting and bag making. You’re sure to find, or make, the perfect stocking filler to take home.
Thai Christmas markets tend to only last a day or so, rather than the weeks that many others last, so make sure you check the dates before setting off.
Perhaps Iceland isn’t a surprising addition to this list – it does have a very Christmassy feel, after all. On the other hand, it’s not always the first port of call for shopping. If you head out into the woods, though, you’ll see the twinkling of the annual craft and design market and Christmas tree sale.
It’s held in the Heiðmörk woods on the outskirts of Reykjavík. Alongside the stalls you’ll be treated to performances from writers and musicians, choirs and psychics. Each day sees the lighting of a small fire and a reading session for kids, too.
If you haven’t had your fill of festive cheer, you can find another market at Strandagata, in the centre of Hafnarfjörður. The Christmas Village offers up cosy little houses in stunning Icelandic designs, plenty of cocoa, and entertainment from Father Christmas himself, not to mention his elves.
You might not expect to find a slice of Victorian London in the golden city of San Francisco, but head to the Bay in December and that’s just what you’ll discover. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is the place to go if you want to enjoy a festive extravaganza. Set over 120,000 square feet, the fair puts you right in the middle of an evening in Dickens’ London. Alongside the lamp-lit Christmas shops, you’ve got winding lanes, music halls, pubs, dance halls and, of course, street vendors with their obligatory roasted chestnuts.
Costumed performers play the parts of literary and historical characters, making your whole visit an interactive experience. The fair’s been running since the Seventies, so they’ve definitely perfected the Victorian atmosphere and festive vibe. Head to the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls to slip into the market of Christmas past.
Of course we couldn’t do a Christmas Market roundup without including the home of the big man himself – Lapland. It won’t be a surprise to know that you can find more than your fair share of festive activities here. Take Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi – it’s much more than a Christmas Market but it ticks that box perfectly, too. If you’ve got little ones, this is one market where you won’t get complaints about how boring shopping is. Reindeer rides and excursions to the ‘forest of the elves’ will keep the kids entertained while you fill your bags with Finnish goodies, and your bellies with traditional food and drink.
Further north, the Levi Christmas Market is a magical, snow-covered village of little wooden shops. Watch the fairy lights twinkling as you browse the crafts and goods on offer, then warm up with a spiced wine. If you’re feeling brave, you could try one of the reindeer hotdogs – they’re a local delicacy.
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Author: Natalie Howells
Situated on the banks of Chao Phraya River, Royal Orchid Sheraton provides a free shuttle boat to the nearest skytrain station. From here, you can get around easily and see the sights of Bangkok.
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