Visiting Christmas markets with your camera in hand is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Many European cities and a growing number of North American cities feature spectacular Christmas markets.
Sure, it’s going to be cold. But that’s part of the fun. Capturing people enjoying the outdoors, dressed in all their warmest gear makes for some fun photography. All the twinkling fairy lights, carnival rides, and endless stalls provide photographers with a wealth of visual stimulation. It’s easy to come away with your memory cards choc full of wonderful festive photographs.
We’ve done a round-up of the most photographed Christmas markets to help you choose the best ones for you to visit this Christmas season.
The World's most photographed Christmas markets in detail
To find the world’s most photographed Christmas markets, we searched ShutterStock (the world’s largest stock image library) to determine the number of photos taken of each market, applied on a global basis.
From a long list of over 100 global Christmas markets, we then reduced the number down to the top 21 most photographed Christmas markets.
The results included a mix of well-known historical Christmas markets and a few unexpected holiday gifts (to pardon the pun).
Have you visited any of these markets? Which is your favorite?
- Vienna Christmas World- Vienna Austria - 6547 images
- Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic - 5169 images
- Strasbourg Christmas Markets, France - 3911 images
- Budapest Christmas Fair- Budapest, Hungary - 3575 images
- Krakow Christmas Market, Poland - 2372 images
- Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, Germany - 2039 images
- Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia - 2002 images
- Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, Germany - 1763 images
- Christmas market, Zagreb, Croatia - 1404 images
- Salzburg Christmas Market, Austria - 1073 images
- Dresden Striezelmarkt, Germany - 1625 images
- Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona Christmas market - 864 images
- Piazza Santa Croce Christmas market, Florence, Italy - 469 images
- Manchester Markets- Manchester, England - 459 images
- Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark - 347 images
- Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland - 300 images
- Toronto Christmas Market, Toronto, Canada - 343 images
- Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium - 277 images
- Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham, UK - 175 images
- Christkindlmarket Chicago, Illinois - 90 images
- Bryant Park Winter Village- New York, New York - 77 images
The most photographed Christmas market in the world is Vienna Christmas World in Vienna, Austria
With an aptly titled name benefiting the number one spot on our most photographed Christmas market list, Vienna’s Christmas World is Austria’s largest Christmas market and also the most photographed Christmas market in the world.
Visiting this market you’ll find over 150 stalls, a reindeer train, a Ferris wheel, and a nativity path. There’s even an ice skating rink. Look out for the famous Tree of Hearts. It makes for some great pictures.
Christmas photoshoot strategies
For more expert tips and ideas for making the most out of the holiday season, you might like our article on Christmas photoshoots. This article is useful for photographers who want to learn how to maximise their holiday-themed photographic techniques, which are also very relevant to Christmas Markets photography.
21 of the world’s most photographed Christmas markets in detail (with pictures):
1. Christmas World in Vienna, Austria
The origins of this market are unclear. Vienna has reportedly had some form of annual Christmas market since the early 1600s. The market is located in Rathausplatz Square just in front of Vienna’s City Hall.
2. Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic
Prague’s beautiful Town Square hosts one of the most spectacular Christmas markets. The best time to visit is in the early evening to see the huge Christmas tree in all its glory. The lights are remarkable and there’s a sing-along lighting ceremony every hour. If you have young children with you photograph them with the sheep, goats, and donkeys in the animal stables.
The market is located in the town’s oldest square which dates back to the 12th century. Make your way to the observation bridge set up in the square. This is a great place to photograph all kinds of activities taking place. It provides the opportunity for some superb wide-angle photographs from various levels. If you’re keen you can climb to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower for some aerial views. Coming back down to earth you’ll find food, stalls, and entertainment to capture in your pictures.
3. Strasbourg Christmas Markets, France
Strasbourg is located in eastern France and is home to one of the oldest Christmas markets. It dates back to 1570, and possibly even further back to the 12th century. The famous Christkindelsmärik (Christmas market), as it’s called now, began when Alsace converted to Protestantism. Johannes Flinner, the preacher at the Cathedral, abolished the Klausenmärik, as it was previously known because he wanted to remove all references to Catholicism.
Now the market has ten locations with over 300 stalls. You’ll need to allocate plenty of time for photography. Exploring the narrow alleyways and vibrantly decorated squares you’ll find plenty to take photos of. Don’t leave out a trip to Place Kleber where you can photograph the massive Christmas tree. The close proximity to Germany makes the Strasbourg market a cross-cultural experience.
4. Budapest Christmas Fair, Budapest, Hungary
If you’re planning a photography trip to Hungary, make sure to be in Budapest in December. The city is host to three terrific Christmas markets. At Vörösmarty Square you’ll find the largest of the three that’s been filling the square with Christmas cheer since 1998. This is a popular market, drawing in some 800 thousand visitors every year during December.
You’ll be able to photograph the giant Christmas tree along with the beautifully lit Gerbeaud building. This is transformed into an advent calendar from December 1st until the 23rd. The countdown to Christmas is celebrated every day with the opening of another window along with a light and music show.
This market is filled with music and theatre. With over 100 stalls selling local crafts and foods you’re sure to find something to take home with you. Spend time photographing the locals and tourists mingling as they enjoy Christmas sweets, chimney cakes, and honey cookies.
5. Krakow Christmas Market, Poland
In Krakow, you’ll find the Christmas market set up in Rynek Glowny, the huge main square. It’s highly likely the market will be blanketed with at least a dusting of snow, making even more magical photos likely.
There’s no exact date provided for the origin of the Krakow Christmas market. Apparently, it’s always been there. Rynek Glowny is one of the largest town squares in Europe with 40,000 square meters of space for merry-go-rounds and stalls selling everything from local crafts to traditional Christmas foods.
Here you can spend forever photographing people enjoying hot waffles, pancakes, roasted nuts, and other Polish delicacies. Watch out for the hand-painted Christmas baubles that are a local specialty.
6. Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, Germany
Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg will wow you with its gingerbread, three-on-a-roll sausages, and delicious mulled wine. This Christmas market is one of Germany’s oldest, dating back to 1628.
Make a point of photographing their famous tree that features a rauschgoldengel, an angel made with gold foil. You can also take a stagecoach tour around the city as the coachman serenades you with his trumpet. This makes for some great photos along with a visit to Santa and the Children's Christmas Market that’s nearby.
7. Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
Legend tells of the very first Christmas tree being brought to Tallinn’s town square by the Brotherhood of the Blackheads in 1441. It’s said to have been the first publicly displayed Christmas tree in Europe, although Latvian’s dispute this claim. They believe the Brotherhood started the tradition in Riga earlier.
The Christmas tree remains the star attraction of the market, but there’s much more to see and do as well. Local Estonian Christmas goodies like sour cabbage and black pudding can be enjoyed along with gingerbread. Look for the wonderful local arts and crafts at the market as you’re enjoying taking photos there. The atmosphere is alive with locals and tourists flooding to this market every December.
8. Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, Germany
The Gendarmenmarkt is Berlin’s most spectacular Christmas market. The city has many seasonal markets and if you only have time to visit one, make it the Gendarmarkt. The area is framed by classic German architecture and French Cathedrals. The history of the market in this location dates back to the 17th century.
Make the most of the early evening light to include these buildings in your photos. Balancing the lighting on the buildings with the ambient light in the sky as the sun sets makes for some dramatic, festive photographs. Stick around until later and you’ll be there to photograph the nightly Christmas concerts that take place in the market square.
9. Christmas Market, Zagreb, Croatia
The Advent in Zagreb is an award-winning Christmas market that will take your breath away. It’s centered around Jelacic Square and includes many attractions such as an ice skating rink, ice carving demonstrations, and stages featuring live music. There’s a whole network of Christmas markets in Zagreb, all connected by ancient streets and alleyways dating back to the middle ages.
Make sure to capture some photos of the Jolly Christmas tram as it makes its rounds of the city. Also, check out many pop-up bars and food stalls.
10. Salzburg Christmas Market, Austria
This market happens in the location of the Salzburg Cathedral and Residenzplatz in the center of the city. This market is mentioned as far back as the 15th century. It now boasts an impressive calendar of events running from mid-November until January first. There are nativity exhibits, choral singing, and “Turmblasen” (wind instruments) concerts. Listen out for a popular local Christmas tune that you’re sure to know. Salzburg is where the Christmas carol “Silent Night” originates from.
Take time to enjoy some of the local Christmas delicacies as you’re enjoying your photography outing. You’ll find hot donuts filled with sweetness, gourmet cheeses, and delicious pretzels.
11. Dresden Striezelmarkt, Germany
The first recorded instance of the Striezelmarkt in Dresden, Germany is in 1434. Elector Frederick II and his brother decided a market was a great way to mark the end of Advent fasting. This tradition continues today with a huge variety of diverse foods enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
This market is located on Altmarkt Square and is surrounded by eleven other Christmas markets, so you’re sure to find plenty to photograph. Take your time to enjoy browsing and buying toys, decorations, food, and drinks. See if you can find the traditional pflaumentoffel. This is a figure of a chimney sweep crafted from dried prunes. You can even photograph carvers making the popular traditional wooden figurines that the Dresden Christmas market is known for.
12. Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona Christmas market
Dating back to 1786, the Fira de Santa Llúcia was originally a single-day event. Now, it has developed into a three-week extravaganza that you won’t want to miss. The market’s located right in front of the Barcelona Cathedral and features about 300 stalls.
Look to capture some wide-angle photos that include the spectacular cathedral while including the festive decorations. Here you’ll find handmade puppets, musical instruments, and jewelry to buy and photograph. Find the caga tio -- an enormous piñata-style Christmas log. This spills out candy and gifts when it gets beaten with a stick. It’s super popular and great to photograph the action.
13. Piazza Santa Croce Christmas Market, Florence, Italy
The spectacular Piazza Santa Croce hosts the Florence Christmas market each year. Here you may notice a distinctly German air to the happenings. Don’t miss out on the gingerbread and strudel that help blend Italian and German Christmas traditions. This fusion of cultures has been happening since the Germans began exporting the Christmas market tradition in the 12th century.
As you make your way around the stalls photographing the contemporary artworks and original jewelry, keep an eye out for the crafted Christmas ornaments and candle votives. These will make your photographic compositions unmistakably Christmassy.
14. Manchester Markets - Manchester, England
The tradition of Christmas markets in Manchester is a relatively young one. Starting with a single market in St. Ann’s Square in 1999 there are now eight Christmas markets that pop up around the city every November.
The usual fare of crafts, gifts, food, food, and more food is a delight to photograph. Take time to enjoy checking out all the different markets as each one has its own specialties and appeal. You’ll enjoy photographing at the ice skating rink and find challenges in capturing the action of ice sculptors at work. Don’t forget to visit the amusement park, preferably at night for the best photo opportunities.
15. Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen opened in 1843 and hosted the first Christmas market there in 1994. The Tivoli experience is evolving and provides return visitors with new and interesting things to photograph while maintaining its charm and traditions.
During the year the gardens are a fairground buzzing with rides and stalls. During the Christmas season, the festivities take on the traditions of Christmas. These include food, music, lights, and performances all with a Christmas theme. If you can make it there on December 25th, 26th, or 31st you’ll be treated to a spectacular fireworks display.
16. Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland
This is the largest Christmas market in Switzerland. Here, on the border with France, you’ll discover a relatively young Christmas market. The charm of the city is accentuated by thousands of seasonal lights, the scent of mulled wine in the streets, and the great Christmas tree in the Marktplatz.
All the stalls are beautifully decorated and sell everything Christmassy from traditional waffles and gingerbread to grilled sausages and Swiss chocolate. Make sure to find the fairytale forest that provides great activities for the kids and awesome photo opportunities for you.
17. Toronto Christmas Market, Toronto, Canada
Many of the world’s most popular Christmas markets to photograph are located in Europe. But if you’re in North America you’ve got to make your way to Toronto in December. The Christmas market there is filled with wonderful photography opportunities.
The market is located in the Distillery District and combines the traditions of European markets with a good dose of Canadian culture and charm. There’s a life-sized gingerbread house and a huge Ferris wheel. At night you can enjoy performances by carolers and folk dancers as you enjoy munching on any of the myriads of Christmas food that’s available.
18. Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels's Winter Wonders is a bit more of a festival than Christmas Market. Sure, there are more than 200 chalets that serve up festive fixes of glühwein, waffles, and Belgian beers. But the event is spread out all across the Bourse, Place de la Monnaie, Place Sainte Catherine, Grand Place, and Marche aux Poissons. There is ice skating, a Ferris wheel, light shows, and, of course, a massive Christmas tree.
Another relatively young market, Belgium's Winter Wonders is not short of food, beer, and all the expected Christmas cheer. You’ll find plenty to point your camera at here, especially in the evenings as the markets and city streets come alive.
19. Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham, UK
Not to be confused with Frankfurt’s own Christmas market in Germany (which failed to make our shortlist), this outdoor Christmas market and craft fair is held in central Birmingham in England. Starting in 2001 the market continues to expand every year, opening in November and ending just prior to Christmas. You’ll find the market covering Centenary Square, New Street, and Victoria Square. It’s one of the largest Christmas markets outside of Germany and Austria.
Birmingham is a twin city of Frankfurt. Hence the name of this Christmas market. They’ve successfully borrowed the Christmas market tradition and made it their own. Here you’ll find all the most wonderful Christmas-themed decorations and activities to photograph.
20. Christkindlmarket Chicago, Illinois
This is another popular north American Christmas market that pulls visitors in from around the globe. The market is known for special events such as the children’s lantern parade. It also features a schedule of pop-up booths featuring everything from Hawaiian dance to gourmet German foods. Talk about diversity!
Don’t miss the booths selling Bavarian glass and pewter. There are also Black Forest cuckoo clocks and handmade dragons and other creatures available in some of the many stalls. This market has been charming locals and tourists alike since 1995.
21. Bryant Park Winter Village - New York, New York
New York anytime is a photographer’s delight. But at Christmas, it becomes even more special down at Bryant Park. The open-air market is in Manhattan's Bryant Park. It opens from Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Some shops tend to be open later after Thanksgiving.
After photographing the ice skating and curling, or giving it a try yourself, there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy the environment with a hot drink.
Christmas Markets and copyright
In many countries, including the US, you can legally take photographs from any public place. As markets are generally set up in public spaces you will have no problem enjoying photographing as much as you like. In private settings, it’s up to the discretion of the owner if they allow photography. Occasionally photography is not permitted and in these circumstances, there are signs to let you know this. When you’re traveling it does pay to check privacy laws as in some countries photographing people, even in public places is restricted.
If you want to sell your photographs you must be more careful about privacy and copyright laws. So long as an image is marketed for editorial use only there’s no condition requiring a model or property release. If you want to sell images for commercial use, you’ll need a signed model release, and in some cases a property release, for people and private property that appear in your images. For more information about selling your photographs and keeping on the right side of the law, check out this article. If you’d like to upload your Christmas market images to image sharing sites like Unsplash, you can learn more about how to do so by reading this article.
If you have concerns about your images being stolen and used without your permission, adding a copyright notice on the image can help deter would-be infringement. This is particularly important with Christmas-themed images because they are so popular. Whatever you take a photograph of, you are the copyright owner, regardless of the content of the photos. If you are concerned about inappropriate use of your photos by others, please take a little time to read this article.
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Methodology and note to editors
While there are many famous Christmas markets around the world to choose from, this list was drawn from a range of data sources and then entered into Shutterstock to determine the most photographed Christmas markets in the world.
Please note that these figures are accurate at the time of research (November 2022).
To make the top 21 of our shortlist, the list needed each market to include one of the following:
- Global value
- Historical relevance
- Visual aesthetics
- Size and scope
- The number of attendees
Much of our list occupy spots in traditional Christmas-themed areas such as Germany, the US, and the UK.
Importantly, the names mentioned in this article are for research purposes only.
The magic of Christmas photography
Wherever you are, it’s wonderful to photograph Christmas. For those photographers lucky enough to find themselves at any of these top locations, you’re sure to create whole portfolios of great photographs.
The richness of Christmas tradition combined with modern lighting displays, and theatrical, and musical performances all make for stunning photography opportunities.
More from our research
If you enjoyed this research, why not take a look at our other studies and lists: