Christmas is not over yet! 🙂 At least, not in my homeland – Moldova. As an orthodox country, the majority of population here celebrate Christmas in January 7, but the festivities start in the middle of December. So, you have a chance to get yourself a second little Christmas, and visit the Christmas fair in Chisinau.
2020 update: it looks like this year will be less festive as our authorities have decided there won’t be a Christmas market in Chisinau. So far, the local authorities claim that there will be a traditional Christmas tree in the city center, and the other parts of Chisinau will be decorated as well. I will keep updating this page with the news.
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Christmas fair in Chisinau 2019
New Year and Christmas are taken pretty seriously in Moldova, just like in, I guess, every former Soviet republic. It always involves lot of preparation: buying presents, flocking in the supermarkets, spending a whole day cooking the traditional food, receiving carolers or going caroling. Very busy time of the year 🙂
A nice way of feeling the festive mood far from this fuss is visiting the Christmas fair in Chisinau. Our local authorities decided to have a proper fair and designated a special area for it. While I really liked it, I have to admit that kids will have much more fun there than adults 🙂
Now, about year 2019. This year is a bit different from the others: Moldova had a lot of political changes, and, as it is said, new lords, new laws 🙂 So, this year the main Christmas fair will be held in the park in front of the main cathedral. Just like last year, there will be stalls with Moldovan and not only food, mulled wine, a ferris wheel and merry-go-around. The fair opened in December 21, but more or less festive things started unrolling in December 1 and will last till January 10. The Christmas town by Orange usually opens before the main market. I guess it will be at the square in front of the National Opera and Ballet Theater (just like previous years).
The Christmas market opens at 12 every day and closes at 10 PM, during the weekend it will open at 10 AM. Every weekend there are concerts where local artists perform, but this year the New Year’s night will be special. We are promised that alongside local artists Alexander Rybak, the winner of Eurovision, will sing as well! The festive concert will start at 7 PM and will last till 2:30 AM.
If you come with kids, they will enjoy the performances that will start unfolding at 11 AM in the main square on December 31.
There will be a Christmas market in our exhibition center Moldexpo (str Ghioceilor 1). It will last from December 20 until December 24, and here guests can buy accessories for celebrating Christmas like baubles, candles, Bengal lights, sweets etc. In addition, there will be masterclasses, lotteries, contests and carol singing.
I am keeping an eye on the news about the Christmas fair in Chisinau, so check this page from time to time 🙂
There are four main places with Christmassy things in Chisinau.
Christmas in the center of Chisinau
The first one is, of course, in the city center in the main street of Chisinau: Stefan cel Mare Boulevard. This year you won’t see food and drink options or activities for kids, just a beautiful Christmas tree and huge decorative baubles. Comparing to the previous years, this Christmas tree is exceptionally dazzling. Still, you can get a pic with the Father Frost.
The Christmas fair in Chisinau
The main festivities of this year unfold in a proper Christmas fair not far from Stefan cel Mare Boulevard, just in front of the National Library and the National History Museum. This is the very place to have the biggest fun. Let’s start with the most important things.
What to eat and drink in the Christmas fair in Chisinau
When it is cold outside, it is the right time for tea, coffee and something stronger. Being a wine-producing country, we are really proud of our grape juice, and we showcase it everywhere we can 🙂 The Christmas fair is not an exception, so you are welcome to taste it 🙂 While wine is not hot enough for a cold weather, you have the option of drinking mulled wine or izvar in Moldovan/Romanian: pretty every kiosk sells it. The prices are very affordable by European standards. For example, a cup of tea costs 10 lei (0,50 EUR), coffee and mulled wine are 15 lei each (0,75 EUR).
As for food, there are many options starting with cakes, continuing with Asian noodles and ending with Georgian cuisine. To my surprise, the traditional Moldovan food is limited to placintas, the so-called cakes with different fillings like cheese, potatoes, cabbage and cherries. Placintas are very delicious, especially if you get one right hot and hot. The price is 15-20 lei (0,75-1 EUR).
The Christmas fair in Chisinau for kids
Kids will love the enchanting atmosphere of the place! I am an adult, but I loved the cabin of Father Frost or Moș Crăciun in Moldovan/Romanian. Imagine a lighted entrance, an illuminated path with gigantic baubles and a fairy-tale little house where magic awaits! Well, you will have to queue for the magic, especially in the evening 🙂
Another place to line for is the merry-go-round. If your kid wants to ride a horse, you will have to grant him this wish 🙂 The downside is that the kid should be younger than 5. While the visit to Father Frost is free, for the carousel you will have to pay 25 lei (1,25 EUR) till 9 PM and 35 lei (1,75 EUR) after that.
Of course, kids can’t miss a photo session at the Christmas tree 🙂 Just wait for the crowds to go away 🙂
What about adults? 🙂
I am pretty sure, you can’t go away without dozens of selfies in front of the Christmas tree either 🙂 Then, again, eating and drinking with friends is an exceptional experience.
Can you skate? There is a small skating-rink, and if you can’t skate, you will fall, get up and fall again 🙂 Or, you will just clench the railings 🙂 And you will have this pleasure for 30 lei (1,5 EUR) till 9 PM and 60 lei (3 EUR) after that time. I guess, kids will have more fun here 🙂 Just keep in mind that the rink gets really crowded in the evening.
And you can always listen to the live concerts with local celebrities every evening.
The Christmas fair in Chisinau by Orange
Another place for Christmassy things is the village erected in front of the National Opera and Ballet Theater by one of the main telecommunications companies in Moldova, Orange. It is very much like the main fair of Chisinau, offering the same food and drinks, and merry-go-around thing. But there are some differences.
If there are baubles in the main Christmas fair, Orange mounted illuminated sculptures of reindeer, hares, sheep, snowmen, pandas (!?) and penguins. Father Frost’s cabin is not as fancy, in fact, it is a tent.
Unfortunately, we don’t have snow this year, so there is no possibility to make snowmen or sled downhill, which is really a pity. But Orange made it partly possible by mounting an artificial slide for kids. For 20 lei (1 EUR) you can get your kid the winter spirit 🙂
Christmas in Malldova
Another place with Christmassy things is the biggest shopping center in Chisinau, Malldova. It is not a fair, but the shopping mall’s management always decorates a tree (and does it very well) and organizes some activities like stage plays, competitions with prizes, etc. I do not know about Europe, but here it is a tradition to recite poems to Father Frost and get presents for it, and kids can do it in Malldova.
This year there is a castle around the Christmas tree, and kids can write a letter with their wishes to Father Frost. Still not sure what they do with these letters afterwards.
Do you know what I liked most about these places? Besides the atmosphere of happiness, of course 🙂 The Christmas trees in these 4 places are absolutely different: every time, when you look at the main symbol of the holiday, you feel like you go to different celebrations 🙂 So, have fun at the Christmas fairs in Chisinau 🙂
Where to stay in Chisinau
Well, in any city you travel, you have to stay somewhere 🙂 When I search for accommodation, I always use two options: it is either AirBnB (click here for a discount on your first booking with AirBnB) or Booking.com.
I have some suggestions regarding hotels and hostels in Chisinau. As always, I selected the best of the best places located as central as possible.
Guests of Amazing Ionika Hostel, located a couple of streets up from Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard like it for everything, starting with the location and ending with the staff. For as little as 7-9 EUR per night, you will get a bed in a clean room. And they have excellent Wi-Fi connection.
Hostel City Center is in the same price range as Ionika, but is more centrally located and equally good. And they have female and male only rooms.
Renting out of apartments is very popular in Chisinau. In fact, there are more apartments than hotels, and the deals are usually better. For example, for 30-40 EUR per night you can stay in this lovely studio right in the city center behind the main cathedral. If you are a group of travellers, consider this apartment that is good for up to 8 people. It is next to the main cathedral, and offers all possible facilities. Another apartment with modern twist is right on Stefan Cel Mare boulevard and costs 50-60 EUR per night for up to 4 people.
If your heart craves something luxurious, you can consider the very famous 5-star Nobil Luxury Boutique Hotel. You can hardly get a more central location. And for 130-160 EUR per night you can get all the luxuries possible of Chisinau 🙂
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