The Tallinn Christmas Market among the best in the world – the Financial Times

The Financial Times has named the Tallinn Christmas Market one of the world’s top ten, while Conde Nast Traveler, CNN and The Times have all named it one of the best markets in Europe.

The British business newspaper listed what it considers the world’s best Christmas markets – “where to stock up on stollen, glögg, gifts and seasonal snacks”.

According to the FT, the best Christmas markets are in Dresden (Germany), Tallinn, Bath (UK), Montbéliard (France), San Francisco (the US), Zagreb (Croatia), Copenhagen (Denmark), Chicago (the US), Vienna (Austria) and Singapore.

“The city lays claim to being the first to erect a Christmas tree in the centre of its medieval town hall square in 1441,” the FT said of Tallinn. “Every year, Estonia holds a hotly contested competition to decide which fir or spruce should be chosen. Under its branches, stalls selling traditional felt hats, sheepskins, sauerkraut, blood sausage, gingerbread and plenty of warming glögg fan out.”

The Tallinn Christmas Market. Photo by the Tallinn Christmas Market.

The Tallinn Christmas Market has been named one of the best in Europe by Conde Nast Traveler, CNN and The Times.

“In addition to Estonian Christmas dishes like black pudding and sour cabbage (it’s better than it sounds, promise), Tallinn’s market – a quaint fairy-tale village of stalls dusted with snow and twinkling with lights – also has a Santa who arrives by reindeer-pulled sleigh,” Conde Nast Traveler said.

“Come winter, Town Hall Square is packed – not just with over 60 wooden stalls, selling handmade wreaths, local arts and crafts, sweets, honey and sheepskin rugs – but also with brass bands, bell ringers, and endless dance troupes,” noted The Times.

Santa Claus at the Tallinn Christmas Market. Photo by Jõuluturg.

Estonians and Latvians disagree on the Christmas tree

Estonians claim Tallinn erected Europe’s first public Christmas tree in 1441 – but Latvians, Estonia’s neighbours to the south, dispute this and say the tradition started in Riga instead (historians have not agreed on either version).

According to the Estonian version, the first public Christmas tree was put up in Tallinn by the Brotherhood of the Black Heads, an association of local unmarried merchants, shipowners and foreigners active in the region at the time. The tree was the centre of a ritual in which unmarried merchants sang and danced with local girls around the tree, which was then burnt.

This year, the Tallinn Christmas Market is decorated with a rather short but cute 14-metre-high spruce tree, which has arrived from the country’s Kiili municipality. The tree is adorned with thousands of Christmas decorations and its fairy lights cast both warm and cold light on the gnome house – as do the stalls, which, as usual, favour local producers.

A snowless day at the Tallinn Christmas market. Photo by Sergei Zjuganov.

The Tallinn Christmas Market is open every day until 7 January from 10 am to 8 pm and offers a lively cultural programme.

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