Europe's top Christmas markets

By Michael Manton , Thursday 15 November 2012

Roasted chestnut and cinnamon-scented air, the sounds of carols and the twinkle of thousands of fairy lights… in the heart of winter, Europe’s Christmas Markets entice us over the channel for a short break or day trip. Here’s our pick of the best.
Lille Christmas MarketLille Christmas Market

Lille

November 21-December 30

Lille’s Christmas Market is one of the largest in Northern France and being so conveniently reached by Eurostar, it has become very popular with the British.

The Place Rihour area in the heart of the city is transformed into a winter wonderland, with over 80 wooden chalets and stalls offering festive treats, dominated by the 50-metre high ferris wheel and 18-metre high Christmas tree.

Brussels

November 30-January 6

Set around the beautiful buildings of the Grand Palace in the heart of the city, Brussels' Christmas Market is often hailed as Europe's most original market, with 240 wooden chalets spread around the Bourse (Stock Exchange), Place Sainte Catherine and Fishmarket.

While traditional arts and crafts, jewellery and handmade tree decorations can be found in abundance, this is really the market for gourmets - think marzipan, gingerbread, waffles and, of course, plenty of Belgian chocolates.

Bruges

November 23-January 1

There can be few settings more beautiful at Christmas than medieval Bruges, with its cobbled streets and historic buildings, with horses and carts plodding by. The market is held in the spectacular Markt Square and forms a ring around an open-air ice rink.

Colourful lights illuminate festive stalls crammed with Christmas goodies, where shoppers can browse tables laden with elegantly-packaged chocolates, brightly-coloured sweets and unusual hand-made decorations. After a hard day's shopping, why not relax in a cosy bar with a local beer?

Antwerp

December 8-31

Just like last year, Antwerp's Christmas market will be winding its way through the city and across several squares, forming a trail from Steenplein over Suikerrui to Grote Markt. Over 40 wooden chalets will be selling an array of crafts, decorations and gourmet treats.

Other attractions include a Christmas village and a 200-ft-long skating rink in the Marché aux Poissons Squar, whilst pavement artists, bands and a nostalgic merry-go-round will further add to the festive atmosphere.

Ghent

November 23-December 6

Ghent's Christmas market offers a delightful location from which to start your present shopping or just get yourself into the Christmas spirit. The Grote Markt and Sint-Baafsplein are magically converted into a festive village, transforming the square in front of the cathedral into a winter wonderland.

Around them, fifty wooden chalets are assembled and filled with Christmas goodies for you to enjoy, from delicious smelling candles and beautifully crafted decorations, to handmade greeting cards and unusual jewellery.


You can enjoy a great value trip to Northern Europe with our exclusive offers on ferry travel. Get fantastic discounts with P&O Ferries and Brittany Ferries.

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