Christmas in Tartu


I can officially say that this is the part of the semester when everybody is busy, or at least you should probably be. After all, it is the season of exams, presentations, and essays. Although this is definitely true for me, I have decided that I’m allowed to do some fun things. So I have been trying to prioritize what fun and interesting things I can do while still feeling productive.

I have come to a conclusion that I definitely need more kittens (or just my own cat), books, more Christmas decoration, and hot chocolate (or just chocolate in general). However, these things generally do not require much effort or time. I can always eat chocolate and enjoy my Christmas decorations while studying.

my Christmas decorations

So I let my mind wander a bit, and figured out that the fun thing I really want is more Christmas markets. You know those markets where every stall sells gluhwein or glögi. Some will definitely sell those really cute decorated gingerbread cookies, and at others, you could purchase some traditional-looking mittens and scarfs. Besides all the things you can buy there, I just really love the general atmosphere; that is why I would recommend going to a Christmas market.

In Tartu there is a nice Christmas market; however, there is not much to do here. The Christmas decoration will stay until the 15th of January. So if you have not enjoyed the forest swing yet, you still have a couple of weeks left.

Tartu Christmas Market

Although I do love Tartu with all the Christmas decorations, I would recommend going to Tallinn and visit the Christmas market there. It is a bit bigger, and they still sell a lot of local products and more glögi than you could possibly drink. This Christmas market will be there until the 7th of January, so if you want to focus on your studies you could also go after exams (or just before you’re about to hop on a plane to go home). I would recommend going to Tallinn on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, as the city of Tallinn hosts several cultural performances on those days.


Photo made by my friend Melissa Ramdayal from the Netherlands
Photo made by my friend Melissa Ramdayal from the Netherlands

If you have already experienced Tartu and Tallinn during the Christmas season and have some money for traveling, I would recommend going to Riga. I really like Riga in general, as it has beautiful architecture and nice places to visit. Everything just seems a lot nicer with all the Christmas decoration. Moreover, Riga has at least three small Christmas markets which are all within walking distance to each other. While they mostly sell the same type of products as in Tallinn, it is really nice to get to visit another Baltic country.

If you have a bigger budget I would suggest you visit some German cities. I know that other countries have nice Christmas markets as well, but I have always particularly enjoyed the ones in Germany, as they do things on a much larger scale. Furthermore, Christmas markets or ‘Weihnachtsmarkt’ were invented by the Germans, so presumably they know how it is done best. Personally, I would recommend going to Dusseldorf or Munster as I have enjoyed these Christmas markets immensely. I always got really nice food and drinks there, and they are good places to stock up on some souvenirs. Unfortunately, I have not been to many other German cities during this period, so it might pay off to ask a German friend for some more recommendations.

So far I have really enjoyed all the Christmas markets I have visited, and I look forward to visiting much more in this region and further abroad. And maybe you will now all share in my excitement by going to some as well.