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Milan's Christmas Markets

By Viator, November 2013

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Milan, like most Italian cities, has a Christmas market that takes over a public square for a time before December 25th. Unlike some smaller towns, however, Milan is home to several Christmas markets worth checking out.

The Milanese are lucky - they get to start their Christmas holiday festivities on December 7th, the feast day of the city’s patron saint, Sant’Ambrogio. The best Christmas market in Milan isn’t centered on December 25th, then, but around December 7th - so you’ll need to visit the city early in December to see it.

The market is called “Oh Bej! Oh Bej!” which, in Milanese dialect, means “How beautiful! How beautiful!” It used to be located around the Basilica Sant’Ambrogio, in honor of Milan’s patron saint, but it outgrew that space several years ago and it’s now set up at the Castello Sforzesco. There are more than 400 stalls selling handicrafts, antiques, clothing, toys, and every type of food imaginable. It’s an excellent place to pick up whatever Christmas gifts you need to complete your shopping list, and to sample some of the local winter treats like roasted chestnuts and mulled wine.

The Oh Bej! Oh Bej! market is held in early December, and December 7th is always part of the dates - but they vary each year, so check with the tourist information office when you arrive to get this year’s dates.

There are other Christmas markets in Milan, too, that run later in December. At Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, where there’s usually an outdoor market year-round, vendors add a little holiday spirit to their stalls with Christmas treats and potential gifts. There are small Christmas markets in the Piazza Duomo and the Giardini Pubblici (Public Gardens) that usually last a bit longer, too, from early December through early January.

Milan is a city that hosts trade shows throughout the year, and in December there’s the L’Artigiano in Fiera - which basically means Artisan Trade Show, and in practice is a big craft fair in Milan’s convention center. It’s free to get in, and you can shop at thousands of booths and check out a bunch of restaurants while you’re at it.

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