CHRISTMAS markets offer the perfect setting to get into the festive spirit – but choosing the best to visit is not easy.
To help you decide, here are the top nine markets to explore this Christmas.
Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic
(November 30 – January 6)
WITH its brightly decorated wooden huts, schoolchildren carol singers and interactive animal stable, you are sure to find fun in Wenceslas Square.
Top tip: Don’t miss out on trying a hot sugar pastry, known locally as trdelnik.
Viennese Christmas Market, Vienna, Austria
(November 16 – December 24)
KNOWN as the Viennese Dream, the markets offer a burst of seasonal joy where you can indulge in sweet treats as you wander around the grounds.
Top tip: If the cold gets a little too much, head inside the City Hall and take the opportunity to look at the area dedicated to children, complete with cookie and candle-making classes.
Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium
(November 29 – January 5)
LITTLE ones and adults alike will delight in the 200 chalet-style stalls, offering a range of delicacies and gifts.
The sparkly market also puts on a sound and light show spectacular, as well as a weekly parade.
Top tip: For a super-savvy trip, buy Eurostar tickets through the Trainline app and arrive direct from London in less than two hours.
Zagreb Christmas Market, Zagreb, Croatia
(November 29 – January 1)
ACKNOWLEDGED as the best Christmas market in Europe, there’s a huge Christmas tree in Ban Josip Jelacic Square, an ice rink, illuminated fountains, avenues of festive trees and lanterns, as well as live music to be enjoyed.
Top tip: Sample a baked štrukli, a delicious local delicacy, from one of the many stalls.
Cologne Christmas Market, Cologne, Germany
(November 25 – December 23)
ATTRACTING millions of visitors from all over the world each year, these magical markets are located beneath the beautiful Cologne Cathedral.
Not only do the stalls offer a huge selection of artisan gifts, the aroma of baked apples and mulled wine fills the air.
Top tip: After you are all marketed out, head on to one of the Yuletide river cruises and see the enchanting Rhine lit up in all its glory.
Piazza Walther, Bolzano, Italy
(November 29 – January 6)
BOLZANO offers a traditional, family friendly Christmas spectacle with more than 80 exhibitors, a children’s mini market and a feast of celebrated roasted pork and sweet fritters.
Top tip: Don’t miss the rustic nativity, performed inside a true miniature stable with real animals.
Lille Christmas Market, Lille, France
(November 22 – December 30)
IN the picturesque Place Rihour town square, you’ll find a giant Ferris wheel embellished with fairy lights, row after row of stalls adorned with handmade gifts, home-made treats and world-famous French wine that will get you in the spirit.
Top tip: Eurostar journeys are now available direct from London to Lille, making this trip a quick and easy weekend away.
Manchester Christmas Market, Manchester
(November 8 – December 21)
BRATWURST, gluhwein and waffles galore can be expected at Manchester’s Albert Square, the central hub of the city’s festivities.
The wintry wonderland is once again returning to Cathedral Gardens too, offering a mythical beasts-themed ice village, complete with ice bar, rink and grotto.
Top tip: Make a full weekend out of your trip to the North West by setting up base in the Lake District, which has a selection of holiday cottages with open log fires and breathtaking views.
Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
(November 15 – January 7)
THE Symbol Of Love is the theme for Tallinn’s Christmas extravaganza this year, as pretty heart-shaped decorations light up the Town Hall Square.
In fact, the market place itself forms a heart-shaped construction from a bird’s-eye view.
Top tip: Don’t miss one of the 3,000 festive performers that grace the centre stage each weekend leading up to the big day.
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