Get away from the insanity that is the high street at Christmas and seek a more alternative form of shopping! Christmas markets in the Alpine region are full of character and steeped in tradition. When you step away from the commercial side of Christmas, the Hollywood red-and-white facade, you remember what Christmas is really about. Friends, family, loved ones and of course, good food, good drink and good mirth!
Enjoy an authentic Christmas. Allow yourself to be transported away with the aromas of cinnamon, spice and cranberries. In this list with have bought together a collection of quaint and kitsch Christmas markets that are all within popular ski resorts so you can shop while you ski!
1. Les Arcs (Peisey-Vallandry), France
To begin this list, we have the delightful Christmas market at the resort of Peisey-Vallandry. Close to Les Arcs and nestled within the huge extended Paradiski ski area (which includes Les Arcs and La Plagne ski resorts), this is a delightful market is at the heart of this friendly family ski resort.
You can expect to see many traditional handicrafts on sale, as well as regional produce and Alpine souvenirs. There will be live music playing too. This is a great opportunity to grab some last minute stocking fillers during an action-packed ski day!
To top it all off, there is free entry to the market. Ski in and ski out as you will!
Mulled wine? Vin chaud. French mulled wine is traditionally enjoyed with a splash of cognac.
Inghams recommends: Stay at the Chalet De L’Arc in Arc 2000, right at the heart of the Paradiski ski area. The market at Peisey-Vallandry lies between the two resorts of Les Arcs and La Plagne and can be easily reached by the gondolas and chair lifts. At the chalet you can kick back, relax and enjoy excellent cuisine and a completely hands-free Christmas, bought to you by your friendly Inghams rep.
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2. Chamonix, France
The start of the festive season in the popular resort of Chamonix is marked with the Christmas lights switch on at the beginning December. From that date onwards the whole town is alive with festivities! It’s not just the wonderful Christmas market that you can look forward to, with all its local crafts, food, drink and homemade gifts; there are also parades on the streets, live music and performances happening until New Year.
Christmas services are held at the church in centre of town, and there are carol singing concerts (not the one to miss is the carol service outside of the Tourist Office) and many of the restaurants introduce a delicious seasonal menu for their customers.
To top it all off, all of the ski lifts are open on Christmas Day! Father Christmas makes a rather extravagant entrance to the town on Christmas Eve, the whole place is great fun for all the family.
Mulled wine? Vin chaud. Putting cinnamon in mulled wine is more of an American tradition, the French version of this drink favours star anise and cloves and keeps the cinnamon a strict undertone.
Inghams recommends: The Chalet Hotel Sapinière is an Inghams favourite. This chalet hotel, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main resort area, is a peaceful haven for those looking for a more relaxed pace of things. Even though it overlooks the stunning Mont Blanc and Savoy slopes, the hotel is only a five minute walk away from the centre of Chamonix perfect location to be involved in the festivities!
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3. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
When: 4th December - 4th January
One of the best Italian Christmas markets, this wonderful calendar event takes place high up in this picture-perfect Italian town in the Dolomiti Superski area.
Twenty wooden huts assembled along the Corso Italia main street, you can expect to see traditional regional gifts (including the local hand crafted sheepskin items such as slippers and mittens), handmade items and of course, plenty of food and drink from the South Tirol region to enjoy.
Grab a bag of roasted chestnuts and go for a hand-in-hand stroll. Once the sun goes down this whole market is illuminated with beautiful festive lights and you can hear the sounds of carolling echoing over the town.
Mulled wine? Vin brule. This translates into ‘burnt wine’.
Inghams recommends: Enjoy the grandeur of the Chalet Hotel Parc Victoria, a six minute walk from the main gondola up to the ski slopes. This grand hotel still has a traditional Italian feel to it and sits right on the main street (Corso Italia) that the market is being held on! You can enjoy fully catered for experience with dinner served by the Inghams head chef.
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4. Kitzbühel, Austria
© MICHAEL WERLBERGER Kitzbühel Tourismus
When: 26th November- 27th December 2015
Possibly one of the most breathtaking Christmas markets that we can offer, the Kitzbühel market sits at the heart of this resort and sports a fantastic lighting display and a thriving market.
Once again you can expect the traditional items to be on sale at this market: local crafts, Christmas decorations, as well as food and drink including freshly baked gingerbread.
But the town and market go the extra mile in the festive season with the Anklõpfler: a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter in Bethlehem on the eve of Jesus’ birth.
There are also torch light walks at night time, pony rides and more; this whole event is a combination of Austrian Christmas tradition and international flair. No wonder Kitzbühel are proud to exclaim: “Welcome to the most magical Christmas town in the Alps!”
Mulled wine? Glühwein. Sometimes drunk mit Schuss (with a shot!) of rum or other liquor.
Inghams recommends: For those looking for a bit of luxury, look no further than the Hotel Schweizerhof. This hotel is exclusive to Inghams and offers some fantastic deals to our customers. A modern hotel, directly beside the Hahnenkamm gondola, you can expect a delicious menu offered by the hotel as well as an indoor swimming pool area with saunas, relaxation room and a gym.
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5. Innsbruck, Austria
When: Old Town Christmas Market: 15th November- 23rd December 2015
Maria-Therenien Straße Market: 25th November- 6th January 2015
Family Christmas Market: 15th November- 23rd December 2015
Panorama Christmas Market: 20th November- 20th December 2015
Why have one Christmas market... when you could have four! The city of Innsbruck in Austria really comes to life with the spirit of Christmas. And there is a market for just about every need, interest and occasion! You could visit the Old Town Christmas Market, or the Maria-Theresien Straße Market, perhaps The Family Christmas Market, and for those looking for something truly special, there is the Panorama Christmas Market.
The Old Town Christmas Market is definitely the one for those seeking a bit of tradition in this medieval Alpine city. The market takes place in front of The Golden Roof, in Innsbruck’s ancient city centre. You can expect bundles of tradition- Christmas decorations and ornaments, handicrafts, delicious Tyrolean food and drink including mulled wine.
For something a little bit more up-market, the high end retail stores on the Maria-Theresien Straße join in with the traditional stands and sales dotted along the street.
Families with children should head to the Marketplatz for The Family Christmas Market to enjoy the carousel and small petting zoo. And lastly, a real treat for those who are prepared to go the extra mile, we have the Pnorama Christmas Market, located at the top of the Hungerburg funicular railway. Here you can enjoy all the usual offerings of an Austrian Christmas market but with breathtaking views over the city of Innsbruck.
Mulled wine? Glühwein. Although the drink is most commonly enjoyed throughout the entire Christmas season, it is most traditional to drink mulled wine at the festival of St. Nicholas.
Inghams recommends: The resort of Seefeld is only twenty minutes away from Innsbruck, so you can enjoy the Christmas skiing and the delights that Seefeld has to offer! Stay at the Hotel Karwendelhof at the centre of town. This all inclusive hotel has the ski bus stop right outside the front door, as well as a spa area featuring a sauna, steam room, relaxation room and infrared cabin.
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