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Is it too early to start talking about Christmas? It may be six weeks until the Eve, but Europe’s festive markets have already started opening their doors. And where better to enter into the yuletide spirit than at a traditional Christmas market? From the streets of Bath, London and Edinburgh to centuries-old traditions in snowy Scandinavia to the heart of Bohemia- they all celebrate Christmas with the best options for mulled wine, ice rinks, traditional toys and decorations and much more.
Are you still trying to decide which one is right for you? Check out our guide to the best UK and European destinations for a December to remember.
Bath – November 23 to December 10
The award-winning market in the picturesque streets surrounding the famous Roman Baths and Bath Abbey boasts more than 200 traditional stalls and chalets as well as an abundance of festive performances. Each chalet sells a variety of high-quality artisan products made by local suppliers, including handmade Christmas decorations, personalized gifts, festive food and drink and local artwork.
Edinburgh - East Princes Street Garden, November 18 to January 6 One of the most festive cities, Edinburgh, the Scottish capital boasts two markets well worth a yuletide visit – the Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens, full of traditional stalls and culinary delights set out in the heart of the city, and the West George Street Market (November 17 to December 24), which showcases local food, drink and arts and craft from around the Scottish countryside.
London - November 14 to December 30
Set along the banks of the Thames, beneath the London Eye and with panoramic views of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and St Pauls, the capital’s Southbank Winter Festival includes a 50-chalet-strong Christmas market where you can pick up Christmas tipples and treats as well as artisan gifts and festive produce. If you feeling up for an adventure, don’t miss the festive extravagance of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (November 18 to January 2), with circus shows, Bavarian villages and thrilling roller coasters!
Berlin – November 24 to January 1
Berlin could easily be described as the capital of the Traditional Christmas Market but with many markets to choose from around the city, make your way to one of the biggest: the market at Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, receives around 2 million visitors each year who come to browse the jewellery, decorations and artwork on sale and indulge in more seasonal pleasures such as chestnuts and mulled wine.
Budapest – November 18 to December 30
Goulash served in a huge, hollowed-out bread roll or pork with potato dumplings and sauerkraut, is precisely the sort of mouth watering food you will find in Budapest. As cakes and pastries are a timeless Hungarian tradition, get tempted by a piece of flódni, the traditional Jewish-Hungarian plum and poppy seed cake, washed down with a hot beer with sour cherry! Budapest’s Christmas markets are also about folk dances and live music, so don’t miss daily entertainment amongst the cottage-style market ‘stalls’ of Vörösmarty tér.
Prague – December 1 to January 1
Prague’s Christmas markets takes place in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Here the focus for visitors is seeking out unusual food and drink rather than gifts and decoration but they are also treated to the views of the beautiful architecture and dazzling lights of the Old Town. In the week leading up to the Vánoce (Christmas) holiday, the streets sport huge tubs of water filled with carp – the traditional Czech Christmas dish – followed by a cheap grog and honey liquor – a popular Czech beverage!
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get festive!