A Christmas market is the highlight of a European Christmas. Whether you want to shop for intricately-made handmade gifts or are looking to feast on a bratwurst hot dog, going to a Christmas market is guaranteed to make you feel festive.
Europe has so many gems when it comes to Christmas markets. From exploring a classic German Christmas market to staying local and enjoying what our own capital city has to offer, there are bountiful options on this side of the pond when it comes to Christmas markets – here are a few of our favourites, from Cologne to Bruges and Blenheim Palace.
Vienna is picture-perfect all year round, but it comes into its own at Christmas, with the already fairytale-worthy surrounds lit up with lights, twinkling throughout December.
The Austrian capital has many Christmas markets, but Vienna's best Christmas market is next to the Rathaus and dates back to the 13th century. The Viennese Dream market next to City Hall is a dream by name and by nature as you can enjoy the market and step inside City Hall where you can learn how to make Christmas cookies and listen to international carol singing.
Prague, Czech Republic
Against the backdrop of Prague's iconic astronomical clock is the Old Town Square Market. It's busy and bustling, but well worth getting a little squished for the charming atmosphere in one of Europe's most amazing squares.
You can also take a stroll through the Christmas market held by Prague Castle on the square by St George's Basilica. Popular Czech foods on offer include hams roasted on spits (šunka) and tasty barbecued sausages (klobása).
Just a hop, skip and a jump from Brussels, Bruges' charming streets make for the perfect setting for a Christmas market. The Grote Markt is the Bruges market to make a beeline for with its traditional wooden chalets, scattered around a glittering ice rink.
Known to be a European Christmas fairytale destination, the Bruges Christmas market celebrations are known as 'Winter Glow' as they aim to bring people of all religions together.
Perhaps the coolest city in Europe (shh, don't tell Stockholm), Copenhagen becomes that bit more magical at Christmas. The iconic Tivoli Gardens undergoes a festive makeover at Christmas, with a magical market and fireworks too.
Skating on the harbour-front Broen's ice rink is also a must. Who doesn't want to lap up the festive joy in the heart of the city with the smell of the surrounding food stalls wafting through the air?
Germany is known as the home of the Christmas market, so it makes sense that the city has several to choose from.
The biggest is near the Cathedral, but make time in your schedule for Angel Market on Neumarkt and St. Nick’s Village on Rudolfplatz, which are cosier and less bustling.
The biggest Christmas market in Paris is La Magie de Noël at Tuileries Garden. This market is situated next to the Louvre and grew out of the former Champs-Élysées Christmas Market to be the impressive spectacle it is today.
An unusual take on a European Christmas market, this event is half Christmas carnival, half Christmas market and those in attendance can look forward to a Champagne bar, a huge Ferris wheel and over 100 Swiss-style chalets serving French delicacies.
If you are looking to stay local, why not enjoy what England has to offer in the way of Christmas markets and explore Bath? Under two hours from London and undeniably beautiful, Bath is the perfect city for a Christmas market.
The chalets pop up all around Bath's beautiful abbey – which is open for carol services too, if you fancy a sing-song. Other highlights include the chance to visit Santa's grotto and indulge in the local food and drink.
Edinburgh is famous for its Christmas markets for a reason. Edinburgh's Christmas celebrations are run for seven weeks this year between 17 November and 6 January allowing plenty of time to enjoy the festivities which range from 70 stalls selling local and international food at East Princes Street Gardens Christmas Market. You can also look forward to a ride on the Helter Skelter for a view of the Hogwarts-esque city at Christmas.
Gothenburg’s Liseberg Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland at Christmas, with five million lights twinkling in the area – powered by a wind turbine for an ultra-sustainable festive affair.
There's also an ice rink, a traditional market and a Santa's village. Liseberg's Christmas celebrations open on 18 November. Rumour has it the whole place smells of almonds and mulled wine.
Blenheim Place, England
If you're keen to stay in the UK, look no further than Blenheim Palace. The Oxfordshire market is home to countless craft traders spanning everything from ceramics, leather goods, jewellery and homeware to toys and stationery, making it the perfect place to pick up last-minute Christmas presents.
This year's entertainment comes in the form of The Story of Sleeping Beauty in the Palace experience as well as the Illuminated Trail to explore around the grounds. It's free to enter with pre-booked ticket so get yours before they go.
Last but not least, our own capital city! Leicester Square Christmas market offers the opportunity to buy delicately handmade gifts or tuck into a chocolate-covered crepe. The Southbank Centre winter market is also a firm favourite amongst the locals. Wooden chalets line the bank of the River Thames filled with artisan goods with the opportunity to merrily sip delicious mulled wine.