Why are Europe’s Christmas markets so expensive this year?

From Budapest to Edinburgh, Europe’s Christmas markets are getting ‘outrageously’ expensive.


In some parts of Europe, high prices and Christmas markets go hand in hand. But in others, this year’s soaring costs have come as a shock.

A 2023 survey crowned Budapest’s Christmas market the best in Europe – but with €21 hot dogs on the menu, enthusiasm is starting to wane.

With average wages below €830 per month, locals have been priced out of joining the festivities. A bowl of goulash goes for €12, stuffed cabbage for €17.

As a visitor from the southern city of Pecs, Margit Varga, points out, “This isn’t designed for Hungarian wallets”.

But Hungary isn’t the only country facing festive price shocks as food inflation continues to bite, having reached a high of almost 20 per cent in the EU earlier this year.

Here’s how other Christmas markets’ prices stack up.

UK Christmas markets branded ‘hell on Earth’ over high prices

With its winter festivals and fairy-lit cobbled streets, Scotland’s capital city promises a magical Christmas escape.

But this year, Edinburgh’s Christmas market has been branded ‘hell on earth’ with ‘outrageous prices’ and ‘robbing stall holders’, one X user writes. Hamburgers are priced at £12 (€14), tickets for the big wheel are £10 (€11.60) and mulled wine is as much as £7 (€8).

In England, things aren’t much better. The northeast city of York can usually be relied on to offer festivities at a fraction of London prices. But this year, a burger and chips also costs £12 (€14), while mulled wine is a slightly more reasonable £5 (€5.80).

That’s almost on par with London’s famous Winter Wonderland, where mulled wine will set you back £5.70 (€6.60), burgers cost up to £14 (€16.20) and hot dogs are £8.50 (€9.90). At peak time, a ride on the giant wheel costs £11 (€12.80).

In the northwest, prices at Liverpool’s Christmas market have also raised eyebrows. Local newspaper the Liverpool Echo posted the prices to Facebook – including £6.50 (€7.50) mulled wine and £8 (€9.30) bratwurst. Commenters said “You’d need to take out a mortgage to purchase any of these items” and “I’ll go to the nearest Greggs” – a low-cost British bakery chain.

Some added that the organisers, not the stallholders, are to blame, claiming that a medium-sized cabin on the market costs £10,000 (€11,600).

Germany’s Christmas markets have also increased their prices

In Germany, the birthplace of Christmas markets, the festive tradition is almost sacred. But that hasn’t shielded visitors from inflation.

One person posted a picture on social media with a €6 bratwurst from Frankfurt Christmas market, saying “prices went up this year”.

In Berlin, some stallholders have reportedly chosen to skip the markets this year as their profit margins are squeezed. Local broadcaster RBB reports that the cost price for a bratwurst is currently around €2.70, making it impossible to offer the €3.50 sales price common at markets a decade ago.

At €4-5, and up to €10 with a shot, glühwein at Berlin’s Christmas markets is far above what many visitors are willing to pay: a survey by German pollster Civey found that a third of people would spend €3-3.99, while a quarter would consider under €3 acceptable.

At the Christmas Market in Spandau, visitors exclaimed to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, “Wow, it’s expensive here”, adding that prices are around €1 higher than last year. A similar increase has been seen at Strasbourg Christmas market in France, according to broadcaster BFM TV.

Again, price hikes have been blamed on exorbitant fees charged by the organisers.


But as one person points out, at least Europe’s Christmas markets are free to enter.

Seattle Christmas Market in the US invites visitors to “step into a magical European Christmas village” for upwards of $20 (€18), with gift and food stalls adding additional costs inside. At least the merry-go-round is free.

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