Bucharest Christmas Market at University Square opened Friday and runs through December 25. I visited yesterday afternoon, but the next time it will be at night, to see the lights. It’s a wonderful, laid-back environment surrounded by landmark buildings, seasonal craft displays, incredible hot mulled wine :o), food carts, a carousel, and an eco-friendly Christmas tree made of wood and decorated with carved ornaments. Crafts include unique hand-painted Christmas decorations, bells, and wreaths.
Bucharest Christmas Market 2021
Because of Covid, the 2021 Christmas Market is smaller than previous years. The main event is usually held in Constitution Square and includes carolers, a skating rink, folk dancers, and choir ensembles. I’ve heard there are a few small markets in city parks this year but haven’t explored them yet.
The “ambiental” music is old-time Christmas classics, including Americans – Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” The Carpenters, Nat King Cole, Elvis’ “Blue Christmas,” and yes, Brenda Lee’s famous “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree”! The crafts are beautiful, but my luggage is already bulging, so I can’t buy anything. I did succumb to a pair of crystal earrings!
The food carts were chaotic, but fun. There was no rhyme or reason to ordering and picking up your food. Pretty sure I didn’t get what I ordered, but figured trying to sort it out it was a lost cause.
I met some French people also waiting in line for their food who spoke English. I asked them about the process, and they laughed and said each food vendor had a different system – or lack of one. One guy thought the Austrians were the most organized. It reminds me of street pizzerias in Rome.
There were tables (standing only) for eating. The crowd was pure fun! I offered to take photos of a young couple struggling with selfies, and sympathized with a flabbergasted father trying to maintain control of three young children on a wild streak.
I saw Romanian delicacies new to me, including raclette, a Swiss cheese dish prepared by Amis de la Fête’s Oana and Aurélien, a French-Romanian couple. There’s plenty of time to go back and sample different things. Of course, you must wear a face mask (some didn’t) and show your covid vaccination record to enter. The system now seems to scan both US and EU QR codes – I think? They also accept hard copy proof of vaccination.
I took lots of photos, but not all are captioned. The carousel is beautiful, but sadly adults aren’t allowed to take a ride…
Bucharest National Opera Classical Christmas Fair
From December 3 to 31, Bucharest National Opera and National Chamber Choir Madrigal – Marin Constantin are sponsoring an outdoor Christmas Fair. The fair highlights classical music, featuring world-renowned Chamber Choir Madrigal!
The National Chamber Choir
The Madrigal Choir was founded in 1963 by legendary musician and conductor Marin Constantin. The choir has “performed over 4,500 acclaimed concerts worldwide and is considered an authentic Romanian cultural brand”. Their repertoire focuses on “European Renaissance, Gregorian, and Byzantine scores, traditional carols, and classical / contemporary Romanian and universal compositions”.
The fair is “sound colored with classical music”. It “features holiday scenery, carolers, a horse-drawn carriage, and booths with goodies”. During the fair, several event performances will be taking place in the Opera’s great hall, including Lohengrin by Wagner, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Verdi’s La Traviata, The Wedding of Figaro by Mozart, and Puccini’s La Bohème.
There’s no shortage of interesting holiday performances and activities in Bucharest. I’m in heaven!
My new apartment is in a great central area within a few minutes’ walk of magnificent architecture, restaurants, cafés, major landmarks, and museums, but also next to fascinating ethnic neighborhoods, and tolling church bells. I’m just beginning to explore. It’s in a more interesting area than the first apartment.
Philharmonic and National Museum of Art
The Bucharest Philharmonic is a few blocks away, and I’ve booked several performances. The first one is a chamber music recital tonight, featuring works by Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart. Bucharest Philharmonic concerts are traditionally conducted in the exquisite neoclassical Romanian Athenaeum, referred to as the “heart of Romanian culture“. I can’t wait to see inside!
The National Museum of Art is around the corner. I have a ticket that doesn’t expire for 30 days, and am working up to a visit. The museum is in a huge building covering almost a full block!