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Take your winter break in Europe and discover why it really is the most wonderful time of the year. With the smell of cinnamon in the air and the sound of the choirs singing carols, Christmas market breaks are the best way to get yourself into the festive spirit. Sip on warming mulled wine, enjoy a sneaky mince pie or two, and browse the tinsel-tousled stalls for gifts for friends and family. Aside from choosing what you’re going to buy for whom, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is which Christmas market you’re going to visit. Here’s our guide to the best Christmas markets 2018 has to offer.
Christmas weekend breaks don’t mean you’re limited to just one market. Christmas market breaks put you in the heart of some of the most beautiful cities, where the yuletide celebrations have to be seen to be believed. Hop from market to market or immerse yourself in the one nearest to your hotel; the choice is yours. Berlin offers the chance to sample some delicious, festive food, such as Bratwurst, sweet, flaky pastries and local Gluhwein. You’ll find plenty of Christmas markets, both large and small, in which to hunt out that perfect gift for that special someone.
Christmas market breaks to Bruges are especially atmospheric. Rows and rows of houses (which look as though they could have been made from gingerbread) line Market Square, which as its name suggests, hosts the main market. In addition to a sea of stalls and delicious treats on every corner, there’s usually a huge ice-rink where you can practice trying to stay upright. As with Berlin, there are plenty of smaller markets on the smaller, cobbled streets and don’t forget to sample the delicious Belgian hot chocolate.
Budapest boasts two Christmas markets: one held in Vorosmarty Square and the other by the Basilica. Both are set among beautiful architecture, adding that little extra bit of magic to proceedings. They’re also famous for sumptuous street-food and live Christmas music. However, for something spectacular, head to the Basilica market, where you’ll be treated to a fabulous laser display on the side of this impressive church.
Krakow Christmas market is always popular and often remains open well past the festive season and right up until the end of January. With a dusting of snow almost guaranteed, you’ll feel as though you really are walking through a winter wonderland. Voted as one of the top 10 Christmas markets 2018, this is a spectacular venue in which to get some present-buying done. Expect snow-crusted spires and buildings draped in twinkling fairy-lights, while in the market you can enjoy the spectacle of the world-famous Christmas Crib Contest.
It doesn’t get much more festive than drinking mulled wine and listening to carols being sung in Wenceslas Square. Book your Christmas weekend breaks to Prague, and you’ll find that there are plenty of markets, although this tends to be the most popular. In addition to steaming glasses of mulled wine and traditional Czech food such as ‘braided cake’, this is the place to come for traditional, handmade toys. You’ll find offerings from carpenters and blacksmiths, as well as delicate gifts made from glass.
Vienna really comes into its own at Christmas-time. Christmas markets are a long-standing tradition in Vienna, dating back as far as the 13th Century. Although there are plenty of markets to enjoy, if you really want to get into the swing of things, set some time aside to visit the one held in front of the City Hall. This is the perfect destination for family Christmas market breaks. In addition to wooden stalls packed full of gifts and traditional treats, you’ll find that the first floor of the City Hall holds some special surprises for children. Here, they can learn how to make candles and crumbly Christmas cookies, turning it into a really immersive family experience for everyone.
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