Each year in Nuremberg’s old town, on the Friday before Advent begins, a cosplay Nuremberg Christkind (Christ child) appears on the balcony of the Church of Our Lady to officially kick off the holiday season, along with the city’s 400-year-old Christkindlesmarkt
. One of the largest and most popular in Europe with roughly 2 million visitors annually, Nuremberg’s Christmas market features concerts, handcrafted gifts (popular zwetschgenmännle
, figurines made from prunes, have been sold here for decades), a carousel, and a steam train for kids. Must-try treats include Nuremberg sausages tucked inside chewy rolls, and lebkuchen
, or gingerbread. Climb the stairs to the top of the church for a postcard-worthy view of the festivities.
One of Hungary
's largest churches, St. Stephen’s Basilica, is also the backdrop for one of the country’s most popular Christmas markets
, which was founded in 2011 by the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists and features gifts handmade by its members. Market highlights include daily laser-light projections on the basilica’s facade, an ice-skating rink, folk dancing shows (on Fridays and Saturdays), and – of course – food, including warm chestnuts, savory sausages, and kurtos kalacs
(a hollow funnel cake that looks like a chimney).