Alpine Italy lights up for the Christmas season with some of the most interesting Christmas Markets on offer in Europe, combining Mediterranean flavours and German traditions, festive food and wine, gift ideas, decorations and local handicraft. Here is a selection listed by region.
Bolzano/Bozen: Alpine – Mediterranean Christmas
Bolzano is home to South Tyrol’s largest Christmas market. It’s held in the Waltherplatz square and though the whole square is a dazzling spectacle of light, the historical Old Town around the square is also a glorious sight before Christmas – lovingly decorated and at its most picturesque. Don’t miss the town hall square with its Christmas display of handicrafts, the Silbergasse street and the Kornplatz square with its charity market, and the famous arches with their traditional shops. But what makes it all so magical is the special mix of the traditional conservative values of the Alps and the easy-going Mediterranean lifestyle. An irresistible attraction is the Waltherplatz square with its varied range of concerts and readings, not forgetting the plethora of Christmas gifts and culinary delights on offer. You should definitely sample the Zelten, a traditional fruitcake, with its delicious aroma of cinnamon and carnations.
Venue Piazza Walther/Waltherplatz
Open from 27 Nov. 2019 to 5 Jan. 2020 (24 Dec. closed)
Bressanone/Brixen: Art and history
The Bressanone Christmas market is held against the magnificent backdrop of the Domplatz square, which features the cathedral, St. Michael’s Parish Church and the town hall. If you’re looking for some really special presents for friends and family, you’ll find lots of great ideas amongst the handmade Christmas decorations and wood carvings displayed on the stands. And if it’s a tasty morsel you’re after, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the wide range of sweet and savoury South Tyrolean delicacies ranging from speck-flavoured dumplings with cabbage to Kaiserschmarrn, shredded pancakes. Children won’t believe their eyes when they see the historic steam carousel and people of all ages will love a gentle horse-drawn carriage ride and an exciting tour through the wintry Old Town of Bressanone. Afterwards you can warm yourself up with a mulled wine or hot apple juice and let the joyful Christmas mood work its magic. Or you could take a stroll to the Hofburg, the mighty former residence of Bressanone’s prince-bishops, which is home to the Diözesanmuseum with an impressive collection of cribs and other treasures.
Venue Piazza Duomo/Domplatz (Cathedral Square)
Open from 29 Nov 2019 to 6 Jan 2020 (25 Dec. closed)
Merano: Sensual Delights and Relaxation
The fashionable spa town of Merano has style and its own leisurely rhythm, which is impressively evident with its Christmas market during the festive season. As you stroll along the Kurpromenade, you can hear the waters of the Passer river and smell the enchanting aroma of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine. You simply have to stop and marvel at the wide range of beautiful regional hand-crafted products. And there are so many ways to escape the hustle and bustle. You can join an atmospheric torch-lit city tour, explore the city on one of the well-kept walking trails or relax in the modern thermal baths. Children can let off steam at the ice rink on the Thermenplatz square or forget all about the time as they enjoy the varied programme in Goldys Häuschen on the Pfarrplatz square. There’s also much for art lovers to enjoy at the Kunst Meran museum, the Palais Mamming and the Landesfürstliche Burg. And those who love to wander further afield will find lots of small but rather splendid Christmas markets around Merano.
Venue : City Centre
Open from 29 Nov 2019 to 6 Jan 2020 (25 Dec. closed)
VIPITENO/STERZING: LIVING TRADITIONS
Vipiteno, South Tyrol’s northernmost and highest-lying city, hosts an irresistible Christmas market with an enchanting festive atmosphere only to be found in the heart of the Alps. In the time leading up to Christmas, the beautifully floodlit 15th-century Zwölferturm tower houses a crib exhibition and rises majestically over the picturesque Stadtplatz square, where wooden huts with a wide range of handmade regional and traditional products make shopping and tasting an unforgettable pleasure. Colourful facades decorated with oriel windows give the pedestrian zone featuring many attractive shops its typical character and testify to Vipiteno’s past as a major mining and trading city. The region boasts a mining history dating back over 800 years and exciting special tours through the Ridnaun-Schneeberg Mining World bring this period vividly to life. From Vipiteno’s pedestrian zone, winter sports fans have just a five-minute walk to the Rosskopf valley station. This not only offers lots of fun on a wide range of ski slopes, but also the longest floodlit and artificially snowed sledging trail in Italy.
Venue Piazza città/Stadtplatz (Town Square) Open from 29 Nov 2019 to 6 Jan 2020 (25 Dec. closed)
Brunico/Bruneck: handicrafts and tradition
The city of Brunico, located in the heart of the Pustertal valley, is a beguiling and natural fusion of alpine tradition, enthusiasm for mountains and nature, and of course an openness to innovation. The city’s intense vibrancy is truly tangible at its Christmas market by the Graben and in the Tschurtschenthaler Park. On those cold winter days and nights, the wooden huts offer a wonderful range of woven and knitted fabrics, teas and schnapps made from organic herbs and a large selection of high-quality regional products which you can give as a present or enjoy yourself. Children can try their hand at ice skating on the town hall square, with adults free to go window shopping through the Old Town and delight in its appealing boutiques. There’s the same vibrant atmosphere in the upper town around Mary’s Column, and the Palais Sternbach has interesting exhibitions of new and old craftsmanship and handicraft demonstrations. It’s also worth your while taking the short walk to the Schlossberg: the medieval Schloss Bruneck castle houses the Messner Mountain Museum Ripa, and the Bergfried offers wonderful views of the city, the mountains and the Kronplatz ski area.
Venue Via Bastioni, Parco Tschurtschenthaler and at “Oberstadt”
Open from 28 Nov 2019 to 6 Jan 2020 (closed 25 Dec.)
The Trento Christmas Market in Piazza Fiera is one of the most famous festive markets of the region. The market also extends to Piazza Cesare Battisti with a great number of stalls and mini-chalets offering a wide selection of Trentino’s many excellent foods, wines and crafts.
Open:23 November 2019 – 6 January 2020 (closed 25 Dec)
ARCO, Lake Garda
It is the time of lights, of colours and Christmas flavours, mulled wine and Christmas bakery. Forty market booths, spread all over the centre of Arco, offer Christmas tree decorations, ideas regarding Christmas presents, handicraft products and local delicacies. Various events taking place in the evenings complete the offer of the Arco Christmas Market.
A ride on the back of the camel Ali or a little pony will make children’s eyes sparkle. Moreover there are crafting workshops, a parade with Santa Claus who walks across the roads together with his reindeer, as well as a ride with one of the colourful little trains driving through Arco.
Open: 15 November 2019 – 6 January 2020 (closed 25 Dec.). Historic centre of Hapsburg Arco
Little wooden houses, smell of resins, fresh air, starred sky and a dust of snow, will take you into the magic atmosphere of Christmas. Walking across the streets you will find different items: artistic handcrafts, clothing, sweets, typical food and wines in the whole historical centre between palaces, squares and museums.
Open 24 Nov 2019 – 6 January 2020 Centre of Rovereto.
The fairytale-like Habsburgs Park of Levico, every year hosts a large number of market booths. The Austrian tradition reflects former times, when the Habsburgs have chosen Levico as their summer domicile. Especially when it snows or if the landscape is snow-covered, this park changes into a fairytale-like area: some 30 market booths are spread all over this park between the huge trees and it really seems to be a winter wonderland. Local handicraft products, Christmas tree decorations, ideas for Christmas presents as well as local products such as honey, “Luganega”, a local meat product as well as boar ham. Music and entertainment with folk music groups, Elf Village for the kids and an exhibition of more than 100 cribs as well as concerts complete the wide offer of the Christmas Market. Open: 23 November 2019 – 6 January 2020 (closed 25 Dec).
In the shadow of the Tofane, the advent period takes on its traditional colours thanks to the Cortina Christmas Market, which brings lights, colour and a festive atmosphere to the main street, Corso Italia. The famous pedestrian street lined by renowned national and international shops, will be scattered with small wooden huts where artisans and local producers exhibit their products. All accompanied by mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and traditional sweets. Inside each of the characteristic wooden huts, a variety of seasonal merchandise, representing the crafts and traditions of the area, will be exhibited and offered for sale. To complete the atmosphere, and to make the browsing and shopping even more enjoyable, there will of course be music to fit the mood, in the form of all the most cherished and traditional Christmas songs. Open: 1 December 2019 – 7 January 2020
The gardens of Piazza Carli host the Asiago’s Christmas Market, several huts will sell traditional decorations in glass, wood and ceramic, typical Asiago patisserie, natural products and the famous Asiago cheese. There will also be huts selling local dishes and mulled wine.
Open: 9 November 2019 – 6 January 2020 (in November and the beginning of December they would be open only on weekends)
Verona hosts each year a Nuremberg Christmas Market in the central Piazza dei Signori. The German styled market will have all the traditional huts, elegantly illuminated and decorated selling typical food, handicrafts, Christmas tree decorations, cribs and serving specialities such as mulled wine, Stollen and Lebkuchen cakes, bratwurst and more.
Open: 15 November 2019 – 26 December 2019 (closes at 5pm on 24 Dec and opens at 4 pm on 25 Dec and closes at 6 pm on the 26.)