Santa’s Pajakylä, Rovaniemi, Finland:
Although this magical village only came into existence in 1984, Lappish folklore tells of Joulupukki (a Yule Goat) riding through Midwinter nights delivering gifts with the help of Tonttu (Santa’s Elves). These myths combined with St. Nicholas in the 16th century led to the figure we know and love: Santa Claus!
While Santa’s Pajakylä is an amusement park, not a market, it’s well worth the mention. You can meet the very Santa himself, visit his post office, enjoy an enchanting reindeer sleigh ride through the snowy forest and of course, there are plenty of shops and souvenirs. If you’re hoping to discover the most authentic, truly magical Christmas adventure, this is the one!
Finland‘s village truly has something for everyone, young and old, but let’s be honest—we’re all kids around Christmastime. Imagine a day in this fairytale before returning to your glass igloo with a belly full of traditional Finnish cuisine to then slumber under the Northern Lights.
Manchester, United Kingdom:
If you are absolutely obsessed with Christmas (like me) and can’t get enough of the lights, the stalls, the food, the everything…then hello Manchester!
If the Winter Gardens Christmas Market at Piccadilly Gardens isn’t enough, then there is another market in Exchange Square, another on King Street, another in the Cathedral Gardens with an Ice Rink, another on Market Street, St Ann’s Square, New Cathedral Street and one in the historic Corn Exchange Building…*another gasp for air.*
The Manchurians are possibly more obsessed with Christmas than me and have decided to transform the city almost entirely, giving our Finnish friends a run for their money. This may sound like an overwhelming amount of activities, vendor stalls and decorations, but don’t worry about getting lost—The Manchester Christmas Lights Trail will guide you along.
No mittens needed in Malaga!
Now, you won’t exactly be tanning either, but at 17C/62F, you can stroll down Calle Larios and admire the world-famous light-and-sound show. This year’s theme? ‘Bosque de Navidad’ (The Christmas Forest).
This is a colorful market with Spanish flair! You can savor traditional foods like churros, buñuelos and “turrón,” a type of nougat. Exploring here is a great way to be fully immersed in the holiday traditions of Spain minus the freezing temperatures.
Close your eyes and picture it: you’re sipping on a Christmas Sangria, munching on ‘Borrachuelos’ (local wine flavored pastries), deliberating on whether to actually buy a Christmas present because you’re a little behind on your shopping or… just having another sip and continuing on to getting lost in the moment…I know which I’d choose. *wink*