Although the tradition of the December markets goes back centuries, they’ve really taken off in recent years, both in the UK and Europe. They give a festive focus to a trip at this time of year and offer the perfect chance to track down original seasonal gifts you won’t find anywhere else. 2020 has been a disappointing year for travel, however with the second lockdown lifted and high hopes for 2021, we thought we would share with you our top Christmas markets across Europe for those travelling with a disability.
The Fira de Santa Llúcia has been held since the end of the eighteenth century and has nearly 300 stalls selling a range of handmade gifts from accessories to nativity scene figurines.
This market has an impressive level of accessibility, while Barcelona itself is one of Europe’s most wheelchair-friendly cities. So, take the chance to explore all that one of Spain’s most exciting places has to offer while you’re there.
The market in Tivoli Gardens is not the only one the Danish capital holds, but it’s certainly beautiful, with the gardens studded with gorgeous seasonal lights and ornaments. (It looks especially pretty if there’s been a dusting of snow.) Look out for original present ideas in the form of things like velvet slippers, while nibbling on delicacies from roasted almonds to chocolates and sweets.
At the same time, it’s highly accessible. That goes for the entrance to the gardens, as well as nearby restaurants and the like. So, it will be easy to find somewhere with a ramp, while accessible toilets are equally straightforward to find, for example at the nearby Pantomime theatre.
Germans are known for their fondness for the festive season – after all, many of our traditions came from the country. The nation is also where these events were invented, in the fourteenth century.
If you’re headed to the capital of Berlin, you’re in for a treat. As with Copenhagen, you can choose from a number of markets to visit, but the event at Charlottenburg Palace is especially lovely with its display of twinkling lights in the palace grounds, and there are some 150 cabins to check out.
Browse some great handcrafts and glug a mug of hot and spicy gluehewein! (With perhaps a mouth-watering stolen pastry, too.)
Many huts have ramps, and there are accessible toilets too. Most areas of the palace are wheelchair-friendly as well, so your trip to Berlin really should be trouble-free.
Staying with Germany, there are eight markets in this city’s old town – it’s basically the home of seasonal stalls! At the foot of Cologne’s gothic cathedral is one of the most popular and stunning collections of wooden huts you’ll find anywhere during December.
We’ll be honest, some stalls are a little high for perfect viewing of the wares on display, and be prepared for busy crowds which can make moving a wheelchair around an occasional challenge. But, even so, the vanilla waffles here, topped with glazed apples, cream and roasted almonds are more than worth it. (Don’t forget to fill up on bratwurst and gluhwein at the same time.)
There are a number of bewitching markets here in the Czech capital, selling all kinds of genuine national specialities, including crafts and sweet pastries. Head for Old Town or Wenceslas Square, or the more chilled affairs at other points across the city. Both squares are wheelchair-friendly and many trams and buses across Prague are accessible for wheelchairs – look out for them in the timetables, where they’re highlighted.
Head north of the border and enjoy this one, and its view over Edinburgh Castle. It’s near the city’s main shopping area and pretty flat. Many huts are ramped, and you shouldn’t struggle to find a disabled toilet. The market’s Big Wheel takes wheelchairs, although not some of the bigger electric ones.
Vienna (Belvedere Palace)
The Christmas Village here is very accessible, and is held with the backdrop of the stunning baroque Belvedere Palace. The area is mainly flat, and there are accessible facilities.
To make your visit even better, the palace itself also has a number of wheelchair-friendly features.
Who could fail to be enchanted by one of the world’s most romantic cities at such a magical time of year? There are plenty of markets to choose from, including ones in Notre Dame by the famous cathedral; Champs de Mars, where there is ice skating in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and others. There are so many that several have themes, from vegan to Japanese to Italian and Nordic.
There’s a bus system that takes wheelchairs, as do some trams and metro lines. Adapted taxis offer another option, and travel on the Eurostar should be hassle-free.
We’ve only been able to mention some of the Christmas events on our blog – however there are others in cities from York to Amsterdam to Belfast and beyond, so the sky really can be your limit when it comes to seasonal travel.
Don’t forget your insurance
Don’t forget travel insurance as you head off to enjoy your festive fun. At Fish Insurance, we specialise in insurance for those aged 50 and older, as well as those with disabilities or pre-existing health conditions, and we love helping customers enjoy carefree holidays. Click here for more information.