Tallinn’s Christmas Market: a festive jewel in Europe’s crown

Unwrapping the charm of Tallinn’s Christmas Market

The Financial Times has catapulted the Tallinn Christmas Market into the global limelight, ranking it among the world’s top ten Christmas markets. This enchanting Estonian bazaar has not only captured the imagination of the British business newspaper but also garnered high praise from Conde Nast Traveler, CNN, and The Times, each heralding it as one of Europe’s best.

The question beckons, what makes the Tallinn Christmas Market a must-visit destination during the festive season?

A historical perspective

To appreciate the essence of Tallinn’s Christmas Market, one must look into the history of Christmas markets themselves. The Financial Times lists an array of global markets, including those in Dresden, Bath, Montbéliard, and beyond.

Each of these markets offers a unique blend of seasonal treats, from Stollen in Germany to the warm glögg found in the snowy stalls of Tallinn. But it’s not just about the food and drink; it’s the centuries-old traditions that breathe life into these markets.

Tallinn’s Christmas tree

The Financial Times points out an intriguing historical claim about Tallinn: it’s said to be the first city to erect a Christmas tree in the center of its medieval town hall square back in 1441. This tradition of selecting the perfect fir or spruce through a competitive process adds a layer of cultural richness to the market.

Underneath this majestic tree, visitors find an array of stalls selling everything from traditional felt hats to blood sausage, all enveloped in the comforting aroma of gingerbread and glögg.

Conde Nast Traveler’s fairy-tale village

Conde Nast Traveler paints a picture of the Tallinn Christmas Market as a “quaint fairy-tale village,” a description that captures the market’s essence. Wooden stalls dusted with snow, twinkling lights, and the aroma of Estonian Christmas dishes like black pudding and sour cabbage. And let’s not forget the Santa who arrives in style, courtesy of his trusty reindeer-pulled sleigh.

The Times on Tallinn’s festive fervor

The Times adds another dimension to our understanding of the market. Imagine Town Hall Square brimming with over 60 wooden stalls, not just selling traditional wares but also alive with the sound of brass bands, bell ringers, and dance troupes. This isn’t just a market; it’s a celebration of Estonian culture and festivity.

The debate over the first Christmas tree

Here’s a fun twist: Estonians and Latvians engage in a friendly rivalry over who erected Europe’s first public Christmas tree. While Tallinn claims this historical achievement for 1441, Riga, Latvia’s capital, begs to differ. This lighthearted dispute adds a touch of regional flavor to the market’s history.

The Brotherhood of the Black Heads

According to Estonian lore, the first public Christmas tree in Tallinn was a spectacle set up by the Brotherhood of the Black Heads. This association of bachelors would dance and sing around the tree with local girls, ending with the tree being burnt in a symbolic ritual. This blend of history and folklore adds depth to the Tallinn Christmas Market experience, connecting visitors to a time-honored tradition.

Tallinn’s Christmas Market in the present day

This year, the Tallinn Christmas Market shines with a 14-metre-high spruce from Kiili municipality. Adorned with thousands of decorations and lights that cast a magical glow, this tree stands as a beacon of festive spirit. The market, open daily until January 7th, isn’t just about shopping; it’s a cultural event, celebrating local artisans and offering a rich program of activities.

In summary, the Tallinn Christmas Market isn’t just a place to buy holiday gifts; it’s a vibrant celebration of history, culture, and festive spirit. As you wander through its stalls, sipping on glögg and sampling local delicacies, you’re participating in a tradition that spans centuries and captures the essence of the holiday season.


What are the opening hours of the Tallinn Christmas Market?

The market is open every day from 10 am to 8 pm until January 7th, offering visitors ample time to explore and enjoy its festive offerings.

Can you tell more about the traditional foods available at the market?

Visitors can indulge in Estonian Christmas specialties like black pudding and sour cabbage, along with gingerbread, blood sausage, and the warming glögg, a must-try local beverage.

Is the Tallinn Christmas Market suitable for families?

Yes, the market is a family-friendly destination. With its enchanting atmosphere, diverse cultural programs, and the magical arrival of Santa Claus, it promises a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information, which may or may not be correct, complete or current at the time of reading. No recipients of content from this site should act on the basis of content of the article without seeking appropriate legal advice or other professional counselling.

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