Festive Markets

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As the northern-hemisphere weather gets colder, festive cheer gets warmer and cities erupt in twinkling lights, music, and traditional markets. Here are five cities in which to shop in seasonal style.


Vienna, Austria

The festive market in front of Vienna’s elaborate neo-Gothic town hall is a highlight of the season: nibble your way through apple strudel, roasted chestnuts, and heart-shaped gingerbread under trees tied with red ribbons. The shopping precincts Graben and Kärntnerstrasse boast some of the most dazzling light displays to rival the glint from the Swarovski flagship store.


Vienna, Austria
Distance: 3,983 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 10 minutes
Frequency: Daily

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Zurich, Switzerland

Stüssihofstatt square in the old town hosts Zurich’s oldest festive market: just a few stalls where workers enjoy a hot drink on the way home. The train station houses Europe’s largest indoor market, while Werdmühleplatz has a ‘singing tree’ where local choirs entertain the passers-by. The most elegant market is on Sechseläutenplatz in front of the opera house, featuring fondue huts, fine art, and quality homeware.


Zürich, Switzerland
Distance: 4,490 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 25 minutes
Frequency: Daily

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Hong Kong

Perhaps the best place in Asia for seasonal festivities, Hong Kong’s annual WinterFest brings spectacular lighting to the streets of Central and the harbour-front buildings, while shopping malls vie for the glitziest decorations. Hong Kong Disneyland gets in on the act too, with plenty of themed activities and festival lighting. There are traditional-style markets at Hullett House and along the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, where 40-odd artisans display their wares. A mouth-watering food-oriented market along Tong Chong Street tempts with chocolates and cheeses.


Hong Kong, China
Distance: 6,337 km
Flight Time: 7 hours, 35 minutes
Frequency: Twice daily

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Washington DC, USA

The glittering National Tree in front of the White House presides over Washington’s festive season. The historic Georgetown district features dazzling light installations, a skating rink, and live music; the zoo gets even more family-friendly with carousel rides and hot cocoa. Browse the Downtown DC Holiday Market for souvenirs, gifts, foodstuffs, and accessories as lights glow and musicians play. The waterfront Harbour Holiday Market is warm with the smell of freshly baked cookies.


Washington DC, USA
Distance: 11,120 km
Flight Time: 14 hours, 35 minutes
Frequency: Daily

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There are traditional-style markets at Gardens by the Bay and Resorts World Sentosa, but if you fancy more contemporary shopping, then head to main shopping drag Orchard Road, where strings of lights float above the traffic beneath, and decorated trees and seasonal characters brighten up street corners. Businesses along the strip vie for the title of ‘best-dressed building’, department stores outdo each other with extravagant light shows, and choirs and decorated floats make periodic appearances. The best way to admire it all might be from an open-topped bus – no worries about frostbite in this tropical city.


Distance: 6,196 km
Flight Time: 7 hours, 35 minutes
Frequency: 2 flights a day

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