Melvin Yeo and Lydia Webb select the best Christmas Markets to visit in the UK and Europe
British Airways and Easyjet are offering some amazing deals for weekend getaways during this festive period. For under £150, you can whizz off to these exciting cities with traditional Christmas markets. These deals include return flights and two nights of accommodation at a 3* hotel.
Prague (Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square) £115
November 28 to January 6
The markets are dominated by giant Christmas trees whose lights are switched on at 5pm every evening. They adorn the Prague skyline against the backdrop of the city’s gothic architecture. They also have an animal stable, where children can stroke sheep, goats and other animals. Try the wonderful variety of roasted hams barbequed sausages (klobása), washed down by excellent Czech beer.
Budapest (Vorosmarty Square) £133
November 12 to January 6
The Christmas market in Budapest screams traditional, with folk choirs, puppet shows and local specialities the order of the day. Check out the crafts, such as purses and coats made by local artisans to bring home as gifts for your loved ones. And be sure to taste the wonderful pastries, in particular their honey cookies and chimney cakes.
November 25 to December 27
The Germans do a lot of things well, and their Christmas markets certainly do not disappoint. It is worth checking out the ones in Munich and Koln, but Berlin wins hands down because of its sheer number. There are 50 markets spread across the city, so you can take your pick depending on what piques your interest: ice rinks, futuristic light shows and or traditional handicrafts and food.
Vienna (Schonbrunn Palace) £137
November 21 to January 3
Christmas markets have been part of Vienna’s history since the 17th century, with their wooden stalls not losing any of their lustre with time. The setting is nothing short of imperious, as the palace provides a stunning backdrop to the market. The child inside you will be delighted to see the many children’s workshops on show. And fret not if you can’t get there in time for Christmas, the market is converted into a New Year’s market shortly after.
Stockholm (Old Town, Stortorget Square) £133
November 21 to December 23
Nothing feels more like Christmas than being in Scandinavia. Stockholm’s long-running Christmas markets (since the 1800s) are the pick of the lot. You can find Swedish craft products and traditional Christmas ornaments such as hand-dipped candles. They might be Santa’s best friend, but you should definitely taste the smoked reindeer on offer, together with saffron buns and a glass of Nordic glogg (mulled wine).
Or if you’d rather stay closer to home, here are the top picks in the UK:
November 13 to December 20
As the name suggests, Leeds Christkindelmarkt takes its inspiration from the traditional Christmas markets of Germany. The stalls specialise in all things German, including Christmas decorations, Bavarian handicrafts, and all kinds of gifts for friends and family. If shopping isn’t your thing, then go for the traditional German Christmas food, such as bratwurst sausages, schnitzels, glühwein, stollen cake and gingerbread. Delicious!
Winchester Christmas Market
November 19 to December 22
The most accessible from London, Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market, situated in (you guessed it) the grounds of Winchester Cathedral, prides itself on being one of the best in Europe. The festive wooden chalets, each showcasing unique local crafts and traditional wintery food and drink, surround the glittering ice rink. What’s stopping you from wandering the Victorian streets with a mince pie in hand, pretending you’re in a Christmas Carol?
Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market
November 12 to December 22
With more of an international feel, Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market has stalls from all over the world, including ethnic handicrafts from South America, Africa and Asia. There’s no end to the selection of festive food and drink on offer, everything from mulled wine and cider to bratwurst and brezel (a traditional German bread). There’s also a singing moose to encourage you to belt out those Christmas carols (if the imported German beer hasn’t done that already!).
Image: Wikimedia Commons