As Cliff Richard didn’t quite sing, Christmas time: misteltoe and glühwein. Save the misteltoe for awkward moments at the office Christmas party and get on the glühwein in one of these five Christmas market-mad cities all great for a pre-Christmas break.
1. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is the city to visit for getting into Christmas mood; the list of Christmas markets is long. Visit the chic WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt for a feast, with everything from French specialties to Austrian cuisine can be found – or see a show in the extensive cultural event programme. More traditional is the Lucia Christmas market in the Kulturbrauerei. It is focused on Scandinavian countries and offers Swedish and Danish specialties among others.
WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt 25-31 Dec
Lucia Christmas market 25 Nov – 22. Dec
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From dancing to drinking to… kite boarding in an abandoned airport: 10 of the best things to see and do in Berlin.
2. Vienna, Austria
One of Vienna’s best-known Christmas markets – the place for mulled wine and souvenirs – is the Kultur- und Weihnachtsmarkt, in front of the monumental Schönbrunn Palace. A feature of many Austrian markets, post-Christmas it turns into a New Year’s Eve market, selling the lucky charms that Austrians traditionally exchange on New Year’s Eve. More cosy is the Christmas market at the Spittelberg, a beautiful part of the city close to the centre. The market stretches over several romantic alleys which are connected by various passages. As well as the city’s countless Christmas markets, huts offering Punsch and roasted chestnuts line Vienna’s main shopping streets.
Kultur- und Weihnachtsmarkt at Schönbrunn Palace 23 Nov – 26 Dec (New Year’s Eve market 27 Dec – 1 Jan 2014)
Spittelberg 15 Nov – 23 Dec
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3. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich’s Christkindlimarkt is one of the biggest indoor Christmas markets in Europe. Each year the city’s train station turns into a Christmas wonderland, complete with huge Christmas tree. There is also a must-do market, Zurich’s oldest, in the old town, while this year a Christmas market with 50 stalls pops up right next to the train station on the Europaallee. The cheesiest attraction is definitely the Piz Europa fondue hut.
Christkindlimarkt 21 Nov – 24.Dec 2013
Europaallee 23 Nov – 24 Dec
Old town 5-23 Dec
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4. Stockholm, Sweden
Swedish Christmas markets are usually a bit smaller than the German cousins, and have their own Christmas traditions. At the Christmas market in the old town the typically red huts offer specialties such as Spekulatius (almond biscuits) and Glögg, a Scandinavian variety of Punsch. The Skansen, the first open-air museum in the world, also holds a market on the four advent weekends leading up to Christmas. Stockholm also has a few smaller Christmas markets that are only open for a day or a weekend, so keep an eye out as you explore the city.
Old town 23 Nov – 23.Dec
The Skansen: 30 Nov & 1 Dec; 7-8 Dec; 13-14.Dec; 20-21 Dec
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5. Paris, France
The Parisian Christmas market tradition is still quite young, but one Christmas market can’t be missed: the one along the Champs-Elyseés. There’s also the Christmas market in Montmatre, with 60 huts offering products ranging from Christmas decoration to art pieces, stretching over several of the quarter’s streets.
Champs Elyseés 15 Nov – end date tbc
Montmartre 6 Dec 2013 – 6 Jan 2014
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