The Bucharest Christmas Market (better said the Bucharest Christmas Fair) is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe! This comprehensive article includes all the things you need to know about the Bucharest Christmas Market as well as other the amazing things to do in Bucharest on Christmas. This is the most comprehensive guide on the Bucharest Christmas Market that you’ll find, so use it to discover what to see and do at the Bucharest Christmas Fair and useful tips for visiting it.
Included in this Bucharest Christmas Market guide by a local who visited the market for 5 years now are:
- understanding Romanians’ behaviour: Christmas during the Communism era
- useful information about the Bucharest Christmas Market
- what to expect at the Bucharest Christmas Market
- things to do at the Bucharest Christmas Market during the week (Monday-Thursday)
- cool activities at the Bucharest Christmas Market during the weekend (Friday-Sunday)
- things to do at Bucharest Christmas Market at night
- activities for children at the Bucharest Christmas Market
- tips for visiting the Bucharest Christmas Market
- other Christmas fairs and things to do in Bucharest on Christmas
Bucharest Christmas Market: what to do on Christmas in Bucharest
Bucharest is a great winter destination in Europe. In fact, there are so many things to do in Bucharest in December that I wrote a dedicated guide – and in this one I’m only focusing on the Christmas ones. So here is everything you need to know about the Bucharest Christmas Market.
Understanding Romanians’ behaviour: Christmas during the Communism era
Romanians love Christmas. But to better understand their customs and why you’ll see so much food (and the food praised), we need to go a bit back in time.
During the communism it was not encouraged to go to church. We actually didn’t have Santa Claus – we call it Mos Craciun (Grandpa Christmas would be a perfect translation); we had to use Mos Gerila – aka Grandpa Frost.
But that wasn’t the biggest problem.
You see, as Ceausescu suffered from diabetes, he decided that the entire country should have a special diet. One that involved restrictions. So, most of us would eat meat only during the weekend – and something sweet also only then.
Plus, we’d have huge lines – and wouldn’t even know if we’d be able to buy something (aka if the truck with meat or produce would come.)
On Christmas it was a big thing to be able to have oranges.
So you see, to be able to have a table with many dishes was something huge.
And for many of us, myself included, Chritsmas growing up is associated with the smell of cozonac – a special type of cake made of sweet dough and filled with cocoa, nuts or other fillings, depending on the preferences of the person baking it – with sarmale – yes, the famous cabbage rolls (you can see the recipe here), and oranges.
Obviously, as the food wasn’t easy to find – and the budget was low – you can easily imagine that presents were given to the children, but we’d have only a few. All the parents did their best.
Anyway, to make the long story short, the communism was a period of lack. There wasn’t enough food, there weren’t enough money, there weren’t many possibilities/choices. So yes, many feel the need now to show-of – to show that they have, enough to even throw away.
While I am not in this category, I admit that I love Christmas. I love giving – and receiving – wonderful gifts. And I love the traditional food – though I confess to mostly buying it rather than making it.
But, most of all, I love the atmosphere and spending time with the family.
Because this is the true spirit of Christmas: being with your loved ones – with your family, sharing great moments.
READ NOW: What to do in December in Bucharest
And now, let’s get back to the Christmas market and all the great Christmas activities in Bucharest.
Useful information about the Bucharest Christmas Market
The first edition of Bucharest Christmas Market was in 2013. Since then, the location changed and the Bucharest Christmas Fair became bigger – and better.
The Bucharest Christmas Market opens the official Winter festivities in Bucharest. The Bucharest Christmas Fair opens on December 1st – when it’s Romania’s National Day – and, in the evening, the Christmas lights are lit.
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Yes, that’s when Bucharest starts to officially enter the Christmas celebration mood and rest assured, Bucharest in December is truly amazing!
The Bucharest Christmas Market (Fair) is open until December 30th and can be visited daily between 10AM – 10PM.
There are so many great things awaiting for you – keep reading to discover them all!
What to expect at the Bucharest Christmas Market (Bucharest Christmas Fair)
Before getting into the things to do at the Bucharest Christmas Market, let me share with you what to expect at the Bucharest Christmas Market.
As it’s the city’s biggest Christmas Fair, you can expect many people. So yes, it’ll be crowded.
But, also due to the fact that it is the biggest Christmas market in Romania’s capital, there are many great activities here.
You’ll find more than 100 cottages offering various products – handmade, sweets, food, Christmas decorations, traditional clothing, souvenirs, and more. You can find “ie” – the traditional Romanian blouse -, hand-painted globes, paintings, Horezu ceramics objects, natural soaps and ecological products, dolls, leather articles, wooden products, handbags, icons on glass, and many food products.
I have to warn you: it’ll be hard NOT to buy something – or to buy just a few things.
When we visit the fair we usually let Eric buy a souvenir – he chose a ceramic mug last year (quite lovely, I have to say) – and sometimes I buy one too. I bought a wonderful small painting two years ago – it brightens the livingroom.
We also go to the food court and eat something – I go for more traditional food, while my husband tries all sort of things 😀 Eric got burgers last year (and he loved them). Oh, and boiled corn. Yum – we all ate!
Speaking of the food court, expect a wide variety and products for everyone. Also, expect to find food to eat on the spot, but also food to eat at home – salami, cozonac, sweets – including a wide variety of candy and candy canes -, jams, cheese (so many types of cheese!), and more. I
If you like to drink, you can try some wine – mulled wine – and you’ll find other beverages to enjoy too.
Now, I’ve told you a bit about what you can find here, but because you may still wonder what to see at the Bucharest Christmas Market, I decided to give you the insider’s tips grouped on moments of the day – and of the week – so that you can make the most of your visit to this wonderful Christmas fair in Bucharest.
Things to do at the Bucharest Christmas Market during the week (Monday-Thursday)
As I mentioned, Bucharest Christmas Market is open daily from December 1st to December 30th.
However, as you may already assume, there are some special programs during the weekend. I’ll present those below – but now here’s what you can do at the Bucharest Christmas Market during the week.
You can go shopping – all the cottages are open, so you can buy everything you want.
Children can enjoy the dedicated activities – little train, a carousel, and the ice rink (more activities for kids at the Bucharest Christmas Market are included below).
The best part: there will be fewer people – so less crowded. If that’s what you are aiming for, then visit this fair during the week.
Cool activities at the Bucharest Christmas Market during the weekend (Friday-Sunday)
As I mentioned, Bucharest Christmas Market (in Romanian – Targul de Craciun Bucuresti) is one of the best things to do in Romania in winter and it’s perfect any day of the week.
However, as the weekend means more free time, Bucharest Christmas Market has special events prepared for the weekend!
Each weekend you have concerts in the evening. Romanian singers from many genres are invited.
Closer to the Christmas you’ll have Christmas carols – but until then, you can listen to famous pop singers (and from other genres as well).
Even if you don’t understand the lyrics of some songs (I say some, as you’ll see that some Romanian singers have songs in English as well), the atmosphere is great and you get to discover a bit the Romanian music.
There are also traditional music bands or singers invited – the folklore music is represented also closer to the holidays. You can check all the concerts here and, depending on when you’ll visit Bucharest Christmas Market, you can look online the names of the performers and see what they sing.
Things to do at Bucharest Christmas Market at night
I kind of revealed one of the best things to do at the Bucharest Christmas Market at night in the previous section. Yes, the concerts take place in the evening – so they are definitely one of the reasons to visit the fair in the evening.
But, there’s more.
I love Christmas lights and Christmas trees. The Bucharest Christmas Market has a big tree that’s lit in the evening. All the houses are lit as well – plus there’s a special Christmas lights installation for the market. All is yellow(ish), lit, warm which makes this fair one of the top things to do on Christmas with your loved one.
It’s for the lights that I like going in the evening.
2 years ago, it was quite memorable.
It was Christmas Eve – December 24th. In the morning we had to rush to the emergency room with Eric. Not fun – but he had been crying through the night, complaining of ear pain. As it didn’t go away… we had no other choice. And then we found out: Eric had otitis. He was supposed to stay inside.
We asked the doctor, however, if we can take him to the Christmas Market – in the evening – especially as he wanted to see Santa and a concert with a favorite artist (that was actually a surprise for him, we knew he likes that Romanian singer, but didn’t mention the concert). The doctor allowed us to go – on the condition of Eric having his ears covered at all time and then, a few days indoor only.
We went – and it was a truly memorable evening for all of us! As I got to children stories, let’s move on to the next topic – and an important one! – of this article.
Activities for children at the Bucharest Christmas Market (Bucharest Christmas Fair)
The Bucharest Christmas Market is one of the preferred Christmas activities for families as there is something special to do for everyone. As Christmas is a special time of the year and it’s magical for children, the Bucharest Christmas Market is one of the great things to do in Bucharest on Christmas with kids. This Bucharest Christmas Market review wouldn’t be complete without including these activities, so here they are.
First of all, I have to tell you that the kids will have a lot of fun.
I know my son does!, each year – and each year wants to go back!
So let’s see why you should visit the Bucharest Christmas Market with children.
Well, I have to be fair: even if they say cottage on the official website, Santa Claus’ house is pretty big.
It’s open between December 1st and December 24th, 11.30am-01.00pm and 5pm-10pm.
Santa arrives on December 10. Before then, Santa’s elves are here and have a lot of fun activities prepared.
Pro tip: for seeing Santa, there’s a line (goes pretty fast, even when it seems huge). For activities before Santa’s arrival, be sure to check the entrances for info points where you can enter your child for a given activity (only 10 or 15 kids enter at a time and they use the chart from those info points).
Carousel, little train, and ice rink
Fun, fun, fun all the way!
Small children will love a ride with the Little train. It’s a short ride, but it’s a lot of fun. All the children love it! FREE activity.
Then, move to the carousel. This is also free – so obviously there’s a line. But the second or third time will be the charm. And it’ll be fun for the kid. (I’d like a carousel ride myself, thank you very much!, but there isn’t one for the adults 🙂 .)
If your kid knows how to skate, then go to the ice rink. Also free – and fun! We don’t know how to skate, nor does Eric, so we never went. But there are always people there having fun skating in the middle of a Christmas fair. How cool is that?
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(More) tips for visiting the Bucharest Christmas Market
As I aim for this to be the best Bucharest Christmas Market guide (and the only one you’ll need), apart from all the tips for visiting the Bucharest Christmas Market shared above, I still have a few I have to share with you. As I mentioned, this fair is the best Christmas market in Bucharest, so I want to make sure you have all the information you need and know what to expect when visiting the Bucharest Christmas Market.
If you want to eat at the Bucharest Christmas Market, go after 11 AM – maybe even 12. Give the people the time they need to prepare the food. Or go earlier, but first check out the cottages.
If you visit the fair in the evening – especially from Friday to Sunday – expect (long) lines at the food cottages serving Kurtos Kolak (known as the Chimney Cake in other countries) – a sweet dish. There are also lines at all the food cottages and to get a table – but, hey, it’s only logical to see them right?
When you want to buy something, unless it’s an item you REALLY want and wouldn’t want anyone else to buy it, make sure you check all the cottages offering similar products – to compare prices and to see what you like the most. For instance, when Eric bought his ceramics mug last year, we first went to all of the cottages with ceramics products. He was not set to buy a mug especially, but he did say that he wants something ceramic specifically. After he saw the offer he decided on a mug from one of the cottages.
If you visit after December 24th, there will be fewer people – less as December 30 approaches.
If you go there by car, know that you won’t find a parking really close. There are apartment blocks close by though, so you will find a parking place – but you’ll need to take a short walk. We found a parking place each year. Usually, we try to find one close to the fair first – you know, maybe we are lucky and someone will leave exactly when we arrive – but if that’s not the case, we go back and park a bit further away (never in a forbidden place.) All’s good.
You can get to the Bucharest Christmas Fair by taxi or on foot – from Unirii Square (where you can arrive by metro or bus) I think it’s the shortest walk (but it’ll take a few minutes).
To make the most of your time in Bucharest on Christmas, if you are here for a short visit and travel by car, you can get warm in the car and go admire the Christmas lights throughout the city after visiting the Bucharest Christmas Market. As I said, Bucharest loves Christmas so the Christmas lights in Bucharest are quite special. Plus, they are different each year (only a few are kept, and they are anyway moved to a different area) so there’s always something new to see.
If you are going to the Bucharest Christmas Fair with a child, you could take in consideration bringing a water bottle with you. While you can definitely find water at the fair, as I mentioned, there are lines and I know that children hate to wait. I admit I have a 500ml bottle with me – buy more there, but I have a start especially for when Eric stays in line to see Santa:)
If you want to visit the Bucharest Christmas Market with your dog, I know it’s possible – I saw a few dogs each year. However, due to the crowds – and loud noise, especially when there are concerts, I wouldn’t recommend taking your dog if they don’t like the noise/crowds. We always leave Maxie at home for this reason.
If you are visiting Bucharest for the first time (on Christmas or in general) and if you like to discover the local food, I’d say give it a chance. Based on your preferences, you’ll most likely find something for you:) We ate here each year and never had problems – not even Eric who is a bit more sensitive than us.
Other Christmas fairs and things to do in Bucharest on Christmas
There are many things to do in Bucharest on Christmas and while the Bucharest Christmas Market is the number one, I want to let you know about the other activities on Christmas in Bucharest including other fairs and markets. You may even say that some of them can be considered off the beaten track Christmas markets in Bucharest – rest assured, though, I am only presenting you safe places and easy to get to.
The reason I wanted to include more options in this guide is that Bucharest is a big city and, depending on where you’ll stay and how much time you want to spend exploring it, you can find a lot of Christmas events in Bucharest near your area so I want to make sure that you know you have a lot of options!
Bucharest Christmas Market – University Square
Located in the heart of the city – thus easily accessible by numerous means of public transport – this Christmas market is smaller than the one presented above.
Clarifications: the difference between The Bucharest Christmas Market in from the Parliament’s House (presented above) and the Bucharest Christmas Market at the University Square.
The first one is actually the Bucharest Christmas Market Fair – as it has numerous activities (ice rink, carousel, etc.), and the second one is the market itself. However, as many people refer to the first one as the Bucharest Christmas Market, I went with that name – but used both in the description, as you saw.
The Bucharest Christmas Market at the University Square (Piata Universitatii) opens on November 30 and remains open until December 28th. It can be visited daily between 10 AM – 10 PM.
You can find here several food trucks – including some offering the famous mulled wine -, a wonderful decorate tall Christmas tree and there will also be fun activities and cottages with various products.
It’s definitely a lot smaller than the Bucharest Christmas Fair, but if you can only visit this one, you’ll still enjoy it!
Shopping malls Christmas fairs and activities
There are many shopping malls in Bucharest and they are all decorated for the winter holidays. Many of them have small Christmas fairs – meaning booths with various products (decorations, sweets, jewelry, leather items, etc.) – so you’ll be able to get a taste of some of the traditional Romanian products here as well.
Depending on the mall and it’s amenities, you can find fun things to do. Promenada mall has an ice rink – they have a terrace and during the winter they create an ice rink there. AFI Palace Cotroceni has an indoor ice rink – open year round.
Plus, it’s winter sales season so you can buy a lot of products on sale.
Finally, don’t forget that the movies are NOT dubbed so you can go to a movie theater and enjoy them in their original language.
If you travel with your children, you need to know that the malls organise events for them – usually during the weekend mornings.
As you can see, there are many Christmas activities in Bucharest that you’ll enjoy and this article only focused on presenting you, in detail, all you need to know about the Bucharest Christmas Fair / Bucharest Christmas Market, which is one of the best Christmas attractions in Bucharest.
One thing is clear: Bucharest in December is magical. I really hope you’ll discover and love it – and you’ll create unforgettable memories while visiting my hometown.