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 – both home and abroad.
5 Nov 2014 - 11 Jan 2015
If you want to get into the festive spirit without venturing too far from home, head to one of London's Christmas markets.
There are plenty of options to choose from – from the Southbank Centre Christmas Market to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Here, you'll get to shop for some last-minute presents while listening to carol singing and sipping on mulled wine.
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19 Nov 2014 to 30 Dec 2014
Lille’s Christmas Market is one of the largest and most popular in Northern France and being so conveniently reached by Eurostar
, it has become a big hit 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.
Take a look at Saga's Continental Christmas Markets River Cruise
28 Nov 2014 to 04 Jan 2015
Set around the beautiful buildings of the Grand Palace, 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.
Related article: Brussels in a day
21 Nov 2014 to 02 Jan 2015
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?
06 Dec 2014 to 04 Jan 2015
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.
05 Dec 2014 to 04 Jan 2015
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.
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