Test Drive A Christmas Markets River Cruise

Test Drive A Christmas Markets River Cruise
European river cruises continue to be popular with vacationers. These leisurely voyages along Europe’s most beautiful waterways offer guests an enticing combination of culture, cuisine, history, and authentic local connections. Cruising along Europe’s waterways during the holiday season adds a wide variety of festive events to the river cruise experience.

Holiday river cruises provide guests with the opportunity to visit Christmas markets in a number of Europe’s most enchanting cities and towns. These relaxing vacations are a wonderful way to get into the spirit of the holidays. Thinking about taking a holiday season river cruise, but not sure whether you’ll really enjoy it? Try out the experience closer to home and see. A simple taste of this holiday magic will leave you longing for more.

If you want to test drive the European Christmas markets experience, visit one of these seven top Christmas markets in North America:

Texas Christkindl Market – Arlington, TX. Stretching from late November to just before Christmas, this German-inspired holiday market is designed to be similar to the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany. Visitors can enjoy authentic German fare, holiday drinks, an appealing Kinder Market for children featuring puppet shows and gingerbread house decorating, and shopping for handmade gifts and holiday home decor items. A variety of craft making demonstrations, children's parades and other events are also featured here.

Christmas Village - Baltimore, MD. Located in Baltimore's popular Inner Harbor area, Christmas Village features over 50 wooden booths with vendors such as Kaethe Wohlfahrt selling Christmas ornaments, handmade jewelry, toys, apparel, and arts and crafts from around the world. There's plenty of delicious food, too. Visitors can sample Lebkuchen, Stollen, bratwursts, German mulled wine and traditional beers, roasted nuts, French crepes, holiday chocolates and other treats. Special events such as wine and cheese tasting, bratwurst eating competitions, and other activities are also held throughout the holiday season.

Christkindlmarket Chicago - Chicago, IL. This large open-air Christmas market was launched in 1996 and has become a popular Chicago tradition. Visitors will enjoy shopping for traditional German products, handmade ornaments, jewelry, wooden handicrafts, toys, clothes and other items. Foods and beverages are a hit here including Gluhwein (hot German spiced wine), candies, pastries, roasted nuts and more. Children can join the Kinder Club and receive a passport and Advent Calendar, plus participate in a scavenger hunt. Christkindlmarket Chicago is open daily from before Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve and admission is free.

Christkindl Market - Denver, CO. Organized by the German American Chamber of Commerce and the German Cultural Foundation, Denver's traditional Christmas market features live music, craft vendors from Germany and other parts of Europe, demonstrations and events. Authentic German foods are offered such as rostbratwuerste, Lebkuchen, roasted chestnuts and almonds, baked apples, Stollen, Marzipan bread and other items.

Old World Christmas Market - Elkhardt Lake, WI. Named as one of the Top 100 Events in North America by the American Bus Association, this traditional Christmas market opens for ten days at The Osthoff Resort – an elegant family-friendly AAA Four Diamond property. At the market, visitors can shop for authentic European gifts and ornaments, toys and a wide variety of handicrafts. Traditional German foods are also served. In addition to the market, this event features kid-pleasing activities such as holiday hayrides, breakfasts with Santa Claus, storytelling and craft workshops.

Christmas Village – Philadelphia, PA. Stretching from Thanksgiving Day to the Sunday after Christmas, Philadelphia’s Christmas Village features thousands of sparkling lights, a huge Christmas tree, and a multitude of vendors set up in over sixty wooden booths in Love Park. Visitors can shop for handmade gifts, jewelry, pottery, apparel, crafts, Christmas decorations and ornaments from Germany and around the world. Gluhwein, hot cider, hot chocolate, and an extensive variety of German foods and delicacies are also served.

Vancouver Christmas Market – Vancouver, BC. Vancouver is one of Canada's most enjoyable cities and the annual Vancouver Christmas Market provides another good reason to visit. Open daily from before Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, the Vancouver Christmas Market offers a total of fifty five vendors selling handcrafted jewelry, gifts, Christmas decorations, clothing, and handmade items for the home. Traditional European foods and beverages such as mulled wines, German beers, pretzels, bratwursts, roasted nuts and other delectable treats are available for purchase. In addition to shopping opportunities, the Vancouver Christmas Market also features entertainers, events and even a special X-Mas Factor Singing Competition.

Once you've experienced the magic of a European-style Christmas market, it's likely you'll want to book a European Christmas markets river cruise. Holiday river cruises aren't just about the shopping, though. There are so many historic sites and cultural attractions to explore. Sailings are available on a number of European waterways, including the Rhine, Main, Seine and the beautiful Danube River.

Viking River Cruises, named the #1 River Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure readers, offers a wide variety of European Christmas market and holiday sailings. These cruises are particularly attractive for couples, girlfriend getaways and families with adult children. This year, the cruise line is offering five distinct river cruise itineraries and sixty-two departures during the Christmas markets holiday season. This broad range of sailings makes it easy to find a river cruise to match any schedule or requirement. "We are seeing increasing interest in our Holiday Market cruises during November and December because the prices are lower, and travelers with adult children may be looking for new holiday traditions," says Richard Marnell, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Viking River Cruises. While Europe's Christmas markets are a strong draw, the the holiday atmosphere onboard Viking's ships is also highly appealing. "It's not just the markets that have all the magic of the holidays, but Viking River Cruises' ships are adorned in festive attire as well," adds Marnell. These Christmas markets river cruises are an excellent way to relax, de-stress and bond with friends and loved ones during the end of the year.

Each holiday river cruise itinerary has its own special charm. AmaWaterways’ "Christmas Markets on the Danube" tour travels between Prague and Budapest, calling on a variety of charming cities and towns along the way. Two of the most popular ports of call along this route are Nuremberg, Germany and Vienna, Austria. Nuremberg is home to the world's largest Christkindlesmarkt, a holiday tradition that has been in existence for centuries. This market contains over 150 festive stalls with vendors selling handmade crafts, toys, apparel, jewelry, ceramics, carved angels, freshly-baked gingerbread, mulled wine and other holiday delights. “Doubling their leisure time for shopping and taking in the incredible ambiance, guests will be welcomed back to their AmaWaterways ships with traditional hot mulled wine, hot chocolate and hot apple cider, providing the warmth of the holiday season!” says Kristin Karst, AmaWaterways’ co-owner and Executive Vice President. AmaWaterways has also partnered with Adventures by Disney to cater to families and multigenerational groups and bring unique family-friendly experiences to selected Christmas markets sailings.

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