Every December we wrap up warm and venture out to festive markets to guzzle Glühwein, cram Currywurst, and fill our stockings with hand-made gifts.
Manchester Christmas Markets were recently voted some of the best in Europe by tourism organisation European Best Destinations, beating rivals such as London to take the ninth spot on the list alongside Brussels and Vienna.
Markets in Birmingham and Belfast are also popular if you want to stay close to home. Berlin travel website GoEuro recently listed these two markets first and second in their list of Europe’s top ten Christmas markets.
It’s still worth venturing abroad to immerse yourself in the real thing, though. No two markets are the same and each reflects the history, culture, and traditions of the region.
In Prague, the streets are lined with tubs of water filled with carp, the traditional Czech Christmas dish; and in Stockholm, market stalls sell hand-dipped candles and Christmas fare such as smoked sausage, eel, salmon, and saffron buns.
Best Christmas markets in Europe
Best Christmas markets in Europe
Whether you want to shop, ice skate, or eat sweet treats under the fairy lights, there’s plenty of fun to be had at Amsterdam’s Christmas markets. (www.iamsterdam.com)
Belfast Christmas Market runs from 15 November to 21 December and offers a range of unique gifts. Children can even post wish-lists to the North Pole using “Santa’s post-box”. (www.visit-belfast.com)
Whether you’d prefer a traditional Christmas Market or a lively and urban one, this year Berlin is offering visitors a choice of sixty Christmas Markets, so there’s something for everyone. (www.visitberlin.de)
This traditional Christmas Market is in the heart of Edinburgh and offers a unique shopping experience for visitors with crafts, artists, gift shops and plenty of grub. (www.edinburghschristmas.com)
At the end of November Vörösmarty Square in the heart of Budapest turns into a festive market place, with cottage-style wooden stalls and two outdoor stages. While you’re there, drink mulled wine and try some traditional honey cookies. (www.budapestbylocals.com/budapest-christmas-fair)
There’s plenty of time to visit the Brussels Christmas Market, which runs from 28 November 2014 until 4 January 2015. (www.christmasmarkets.com/Belgium/brussels-christmas-market)
Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Market has been running for over a decade. With over 180 stalls, it’s the largest outdoor Christmas Market in the Britain. It runs from 13-22 December. (www.birmingham.gov.uk/frankfurtmarket)
The only place in the UK to have made the top 10 in an international poll by tourism organisation European Best Destinations, an estimated 200,000 people visited Machester Market on its opening weekend. (www.visitmanchester.com)
At the traditional Vienna Magic of Advent, the Rathausplatz is transformed into a festive fairy tale with over 150 stands. (www.wien.info)
Drink glögg, eat ginger bread and go shopping under the beautiful Christmas decorations in Stockholm. (www.visitstockholm.com/en/See--do/Guides/Christmas-in-Stockholm)
As well as delicious food at Prague’s Christmas Market, there are also famous Czech beers on offer, including Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and Budvar. (www.pragueexperience.com/events/christmas_markets)
Many travel companies offer Christmas market breaks too, which means you can spend an entire weekend soaking up the festivities.