The history of Christmas celebration in the capital of Estonia is very long. The first mention of a Christmas tree display in the city’s main square dates back to 1441, making the Tallinn Christmas tree display over half a millennium old. The city’s Christmas market is held next to the beautifully bedecked Christmas tree and majestic Town Hall. It features several dozen stalls and booths where vendors sell handmade souvenirs, foods and drinks, a large stage for live performances, and fairground rides.
At the Tallinn Christmas market, merchants offer a wide range of handicrafts that can’t be found in regular stores. They include beautiful Christmas decorations, handmade toys, miniature ceramic copies of Tallinn’s signature buildings, woolen sweaters and scarves, felt hats, cozy sheepskin slippers and vests, and more. The market has a lot of unique Christmas presents that can be gift-wrapped straight away. By the way, most merchants wear traditional clothes to create a festive atmosphere.
Of course, a Christmas market isn’t a Christmas market without traditional treats and hot drinks associated with Christmastime. Numerous food stalls offer traditional Estonian dishes such as sausages, oven-roasted potatoes and sauerkraut served with lingonberry sauce, head cheese, smoked eel, black blood pudding, small pastries with various fillings (similar to Russian pirozhki), marzipan candy, gingerbread cookies, kringle (a type of pretzel) and other traditional desserts. Mulled wine and other soul-warming Christmas drinks will keep your warm on a chilly day.
As far as entertainment is concerned, the Tallinn Christmas market has a lot to offer. Local singers and choirs perform Christmas carols on a large stage during the day. Special performances featuring singers, dancers and other artists are held almost every evening. The biggest concerts are held every weekend and on holidays throughout the Advent period. There are fairground rides, a petting zoo, pony rides, contests, and other activities for kids.
One of the market’s main attractions is Santa Claus (in Estonia, they call him Jõuluvana). The youngest visitors of the market can visit Santa’s house, play with Christmas dwarfs, get sweets from Santa and tell him their wishes, sent a letter from Santa’s post office, and even pet Santa’s reindeer.