Christmas in Estonia is a magical, festive season. The streets lit up with a thousand lights, carols filling the air, and silvery-white snow glistens on treetops. Many Estonia Christmas markets pop up in the capital city and other parts of the country. But compared to Western and Eastern Europe, you may only find a few here. Still, quality beats quantity, and the ones that you do find are truly unforgettable.
Christmas in Estonia
Christmas is a well-loved holiday in Estonia, celebrated with a mixture of old and new traditions. The festive season begins with Advent. Children hang their socks on windows starting on 1st December and receive small gifts and sweets every day until the 24th of the month.
The main celebration falls on Christmas Eve, when families gather to indulge in a lavish dinner and exchange gifts.
One of the most popular Estonia Christmas traditions is bathing in the sauna before changing into their best attire for the night’s festivity.
But did you know that the winter festivities have their roots in paganism? Yes, Estonians have celebrated the winter solstice for thousands of years pre-Christianity. Fortunetelling is a popular activity during the event. With the help of the stars and the frost, people predict the weather for the coming year. Nowadays, most Estonians consider Christmas a celebration of friendship, family, love, and giving.
Estonians love their holiday food. Christmas staples include jellied head cheese, oven-roasted potatoes, pork, and blood sausage. Offered on the side to balance the richness of the meat dishes are lingonberry sauce, sauerkraut, and pickled pumpkin. Gingerbread cookies served with apples, mandarin oranges, and glogg (hot mulled wine) is a favourite holiday dessert.
Most holiday tourists skip Estonia for more popular Christmas destinations, such as Norway or Germany. But Estonia gives out a unique festive vibe that is worth checking out. If you want to experience this magic, be sure to visit. With that, we say Häid Jõule! – that’s Merry Christmas in Estonian.
Amazing Estonia Christmas Markets to Visit
Where are the top European Christmas markets? You’ve made a fantastic choice if you’ve decided to visit Estonia for the holidays. Tallinn, the country’s capital city, was home to the best Christmas market in Europe in 2019.
Outside the capital, you’ll find smaller bazaars and fairs that are just as fascinating. Whether you want to sample delicious delicacies, find rare handicrafts, or experience authentic Estonian-style holiday celebrations, Estonia Christmas markets do not disappoint.
Tallinn Christmas Market, Town Hall Square
2022 Opening Dates: 25th November to 8th January 2023
There is only one Tallin Christmas market in 2022, but it is incredibly spectacular. The Tallinn market is a festive affair, featuring bell ringers, brass bands, dance troupes, and over 60 wooden stalls selling anything from homemade honey to sheepskin rugs and handmade wreaths.
A giant Christmas tree stands in front of the Town Hall, a tradition that goes back to 1441. Estonians claim they are the first to set up a decorated Christmas tree on display in Europe, and history says they may be right.
Even if you are not into Estonia’s Christmas markets, the capital is still worth seeing. Tallinn in winter is magical, with its beautifully decorated buildings and cobblestone alleys dusted with snow. The average daily temperature, however, is -2°C (28.4°F) and can dip to -5°C (23°F). Be sure to bring your extra warm, cosy clothes.
You can buy unique handicrafts, winter accessories, and rare souvenirs at the Christmas market in Tallinn. Fill your tummy with hearty meat roasts, gingerbread, and mulled wine or hot chocolate. Watch Santa Claus arrive at his little house on an authentic reindeer sleigh. He then gives candies to children who are best at reciting verses. The brightly-lit merry-go-round is a favourite among kids and kids-at-heart.
Stay in Tallinn
Located in the heart of Tallinn, MyApartments is a family-friendly accommodation that features spacious rooms with a private bathroom, flat-screen TV, and a kitchen with a dining table, microwave, stovetop, and refrigerator. There is a cafeteria on the ground floor where you can have breakfast.
Estonia Christmas Markets in Tartu
Christmas City Tartu
2022 Opening Dates: 27th November to 8th January 2023
Dreaming of a white Christmas? You might get lucky and experience one in Tartu, the stunning university city roughly three hours from Tallinn. Christmas City Tartu takes place at the town hall square and centres around the massive Christmas tree. You’ll find transparent stalls lit from within to create a surreal glow. Buy local crafts, handmade souvenirs, winter garments, mulled wine, and gingerbread. Expect to see live entertainment, from carolers to hundreds of folk dancers.
Tartu Christmas Fair
2022 Opening Dates: 10th December 2022
This one-day traditional Christmas fair happens in the city centre near the Tartu market hall. Tartu Christmas Fair features around 200 merchants from around the country selling arts and crafts, winter clothing, and accessories. You will also find local delicacies such as smoked meat, fish products, sauerkraut, pies, honey, baked goods, blood sausages, and hot drinks.
Stay in Tartu
Located in the Old Town, Lydia Hotel is the ideal accommodation in Tartu for families with its spacious rooms with free WiFi, an indoor heated pool, and complimentary breakfast.
Other Estonia Christmas Markets
Narva Castle Christmas Village
2022 Opening Dates: 23rd December to 25th December
Three hours from Tallinn is the picturesque city of Narva, located on Estonia’s easternmost tip, on the western bank of the Narva River. Every year Narva hosts an impressive Christmas market on its historic castle grounds, featuring Estonian traditions combined with customs of different countries and eras.
Hunt for unique keepsakes at the souvenir fair, then unwind at the cosy Christmas café. Kids will love exploring Santa’s hut or meeting the animals at the petting zoo. Each day brings different activities, including performances, contests, and workshops.
Stay in Narva
Centrally located, Narva Hotell provides cosy, family-friendly rooms with free WiFi and complimentary breakfast. It is less than a mile from Narva Castle, where the Christmas fair is happening.
Snow Kingdom in Põltsamaa Castle
2022 Opening Dates: 3rd December, 10th December and 17th December
Built on the banks of the Põltsamaa River, the Põltsamaa Castle is an enchanting stone fortress that dates back to 1272. And for three Saturdays in December, it turns into a magical snow kingdom of dazzling Christmas lights, varied shops, and fun activities. If you want to enjoy delicious Estonian holiday delicacies, head to the cosy shops with their wide selection of goodies and refreshments. Find your way through the spruce maze of Snow Kingdom market, drop by Santa Claus’ house, find treasures in a scavenger hunt, and get on a sleigh ride on the castle grounds. You can even mail Santa a letter through Santa’s mailbox.
Stay Near Snow Kingdom
Pajusi Mõisa Külalistemaja is a charming inn that features lovely family rooms with private bathrooms, a shared kitchen, a garden, and a picnic area with barbeque facilities. Põltsamaa Castle is about 700 meters from Külalistemaja.
Pärnu Christmas Village
2022 Opening Dates: 17th December to 18th December
Set at the Pärnu Independence Square, the Christmas Village features live performances, fun activities for kids, and a market where you can shop for décors, costume jewellery, original artworks by local artists, lots of food, and more. Children will enjoy Santa and his elves working in their shop.
Christmas at Lottemaa
2022 Opening Dates: 17th December to 18th December and 26th December to 30th December
Not exactly a Christmas market, but this event is one that children will undoubtedly love. The Lotte Village Theme Park turns into a winter wonderland with dazzling holiday decorations and hundreds of colourful lights filling the gardens, cottages, and forest paths. Kids can watch and join in Christmas plays, do handicrafts at Lotte’s workshop, explore the adventure trail, meet the Christmas Rabbit, and have warm soup and tasty pastries at the café.
The theme park is 20 minutes from the Pärnu city centre, which is under two hours from Tallinn. The Lotte Village Theme Park is a fantastic addition to your holiday itinerary after you visit all the Estonia Christmas markets.
Stay Near Lotte Theme Park
Where to stay: Less than a mile from the Pärnu city centre and about 20 minutes from the Lotte Village Theme Park is Viiking Spa Hotel, a modern hotel in the historical Old Town. Enjoy the comfortable family rooms, the roof garden, and the igloo sau
Plan Your Trip to the Estonia Christmas Markets
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