Dreaming of a green Christmas

Mulled wine, roasted almonds, local handicrafts… What’s not to love about a good Christmas market? For many, Christmas is the season to be jolly – but ‘tis also the season to be wasteful. In fact, Christmas is the most wasteful time of the year and Christmas markets are often criticised for not being eco-friendly enough.

From the festive kitsch shipped in from China to the high energy consumption and plastic waste, most Christmas markets have a long way to go before they meet even basic sustainability standards. Things are changing, though. As we become more aware of the impact we have on the environment, more and more people are opting for a sustainable or even zero-waste Christmas.

Sustainable Christmas markets are popping up in cities across Europe offering visitors eco-conscious products and gifts. You’ll find merchants who care about the planet and consumers who want to contribute to something positive.

If you’re as eager as we are to discover a green Christmas market this winter, check out our recommendations below – all perfectly simple to reach by train, of course! Just make sure to check the dates, as some are only open on specific weekends.

Germany

  1. Berlin – The Eco Christmas Market is located on Sophienstraße, one of the oldest streets in Berlin and close to the city’s famous Hackesche Höfe. It focuses on ecological, organic and fair-trade products and food. Open every weekend until Christmas.
  2. Berlin – The Advents Ökomarkt in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood offers high-quality handicrafts, toys and textiles, as well as delicacies from around the world. Merchants here adhere to the highest ecological standards. Open every Sunday before Christmas.
  3. Dresden – Located in one of Dresden’s many churches, the Fair Christmas Market features over 50 craftspeople selling their wares, from organic festive delicacies and all-natural soaps and cosmetics to fair-trade clothing, toys, jewellery and more. Open December 7–8.
  4. Hannover  –At the Wunder Wandel Weihnachtsmarkt, Hannover’s alternative Christmas market, the focus is on art, culture, sustainability and vegan food. Open December 14–15.

UK

  1. Brighton – Zero Waste Christmas Market is the first of its kind in Brighton. Here you’ll find eco-conscious food and drink, fair-trade and plastic-free gifts and even a zero-waste gift wrapping station. Open on December 15.
  2. Bath – Located in the Georgian streets of one of the most picturesque towns in the country, Bath Christmas Market is the perfect spot to do some sustainable Christmas shopping this festive season. Open every day until December 15.

The Netherlands

  1. Eindhoven – The Feel Good Market is an event full of atmosphere, as well as sustainable, handmade, regional products. It’s also a great place to bring the whole family. Open on December 15.
  2. Amsterdam – At Pure Markt’s festive Winter Market in Park Frankendael, you’ll encounter local artisans selling a fantastic assortment of sustainable products and gifts.

Switzerland

Geneva – The charming Christmas market at Ferme de Budé is all about local, artisanal and eco-friendly products from around the region. Find great gifts with a low environmental impact. Open December 13–14.

Austria

Vienna – At Vienna’s Vegan Christmas Market, you’ll find the focus is on healthy, ethical and sustainable options. Open December 14 and 15.

William Simpson
Written by William Simpson
William has spent the last few years living in China, travelling around Asia by rail and promoting sustainable tourism at every opportunity. After recently relocating to Germany, he is now taking advantage of Europe’s rail network to satisfy his passion for slow tourism, from Lisbon to Lviv. William is currently based in Berlin.

Photos by: Bart Giepmans.