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    Can’t-Miss Holiday Markets Near Military Bases

    A popular holiday tradition that many military families enjoy is holiday markets!

    Originally a European tradition, cities all over the world now host their own versions of holiday markets, which typically start in late November or early December. You can find arts and crafts, artisan gifts, Christmas decorations, culinary treats, and a taste of local flair in a very festive atmosphere. 

    Here are some of the best holiday markets near major U.S. military communities around the world. For the hard-core market-goer, we’ve also mentioned a few that are farther afield.

    Nuremburg ChristkindelsmarktNuremburg Christkindelsmarkt - photo from Canva


    Nuremberg, Germany (December 1 to December 24)

    Among the most famous Christmas markets in the world, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt dates back to the 16th Century and is one of Germany's oldest Christmas markets. You can find all of your favorite traditional products and crafts, unique gifts, and of course, local treats such as bratwurst, mulled wine (Glühwein), and gingerbread.

    Farther afield:

    Cities all over Germany host Christkindlesmarkts, but another particularly famous one is the Reiterlesmarkt in the medieval walled city of Rothenburg (December 1 to December 23). “Reiterles,” a mythical figure representing the spirit of winter, will make an appearance at the opening ceremony on December 1.

    Christmas market in SpainChristmas market in Spain - Photo from Canva

    Seville, Spain (December - January)

    The Mercado Navideño de Artesanía, located in Seville’s Plaza Nueva, specializes in Andalusian-style handcrafted items, such as jewelry, wooden toys, and nativity scenes. Part of the fun of this market is seeing the beautiful city of Seville dressed up in holiday lights. 

    Farther afield: 

    December is one of the busiest times of year in Madrid as visitors flock to the famous Plaza Mayor Christmas Market (November 24 to December 31). Visit more than 100 stalls and enjoy Madrid’s festive holiday light displays throughout the city.

    Yokohama city christmas marketYokohama, Japan - Photo from Canva

    Yokohama, Japan (November 24 to December 25)

    The Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market offers a taste of Germany in Japan. The German Embassy and German Tourism Board are among the sponsors of this event, which features traditional German-style shops, food, and beverages. Visit at night to see the full display of lights!

    Farther afield:

    The Tokyo Christmas Market in Hibiya Park runs from November 23 to December 25 and is the biggest Christmas market in Tokyo. See their giant Christmas tree and experience how this park in Tokyo transforms into a holiday-themed German village!

    city street in Georgetown near Washington DCCity street in Georgetown near Washington, DC - Photo from Canva

    Washington, DC (November 17 to December 23)

    The Downtown Holiday Market, now in its 19th year, takes place on F Street NW between 7th and 9th Streets NW. It features more than 70 exhibitors, a variety of food vendors, and live music from dozens of performers across all musical genres.

    Farther afield: 

    If you make the trip to New York City, you can shop ‘til you drop at markets throughout Manhattan and the other boroughs. Some of the most famous markets are the Union Square Holiday Market and the Columbus Circle Holiday Market.

    Some nearby bases: 

    Stationed in the DC area? Check out these 2023 holiday events in Alexandria, Virginia!

    Friends enjoying a Christmas marketPhoto from Canva

    Raleigh/Durham, NC (various dates starting late November)

    The Triangle area hosts numerous smaller holiday markets in various locations. The Christmas Carousel Holiday Gift Market, held at the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, is Thanksgiving weekend (November 24-26) and features more than 250 exhibitors plus Santa!

    Raleigh Night Market also sponsors several other holiday markets, including the Merry Moore Market in Raleigh’s Moore Square (select weekend nights in November and December—see site for details).

    Further afield:

    The city of Charlotte hosts its own Christkindlmarkt at the Charlotte Christmas Village (November 23 to December 23). Enjoy the full menu of traditional German holiday food and beverages, holiday shopping, crafts, and live music, plus daily visits from Santa.

    Some nearby bases: 

    mother and daughter at a christmas marketPhoto from Canva

    Denver, CO (November 17– December 23)

    Denver Christkindlmarket recreates a traditional German holiday market right in the heart of Colorado. Complete with wooden huts, traditional German gifts, food, and beer (plus the all-important Glühwein), it’s the next best thing to traveling to Germany!

    Farther afield: 

    About an hour west of Denver is historic Georgetown, which also hosts a popular Christmas market during the first two weekends in December. It includes a European-style outdoor market along with some American Christmas traditions, such as roasted chestnuts, horse-drawn wagon rides, and Christmas carolers.

    Some nearby bases: 

    snowman crafts at a Christmas marketPhoto from Canva

    San Diego, CA (December - January)

    The Holiday Market and Trail at Petco Park includes a mix of European and American traditions. It features European artisan shops along with other crafts and gifts, plus seasonal food, themed lighting displays, and Santa! Tickets with designated entry times are required for this event. (Note: this event has not yet been confirmed for 2023.

    Farther afield:

    The unique historic town of Solvang, a year-round “miniature Denmark,” hosts its annual Julefest from November 24 to 1 January 6. While not exactly a holiday market, Julefest offers plenty of holiday festivities for the whole family, including a Santa’s Village and guided candlelight tours of the town.

    Some nearby bases: 

    That’s just a sampling of the many holiday markets throughout the U.S. and around the world! Many cities have smaller versions or 1 - 2 day markets, so check your local tourism or visitors bureau website to see what’s coming up.

    If you want to fully indulge in beer and Glühwein, inquire at your local military base Tickets & Travel or Outdoor Rec office, because some offer group tours to local holiday markets, and they will do the driving for you. Either way, make sure you don’t miss these fun events!

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    Stephanie Montague


    Stephanie Montague

    Stephanie Montague is the founder of Poppin' Smoke, a website dedicated to helping members of the military community take advantage of their travel-related benefits. She has been traveling and living abroad with her husband since he retired from the Army in 2015. Through Poppin’ Smoke, Stephanie shares everything she and her husband learn about Space-A travel and using military benefits while abroad. Also, through her Facebook group, U.S. Military Retirees and Veterans Living Overseas, Stephanie facilitates a large and growing community of veterans who are interested in living overseas after their military career.

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