Europe’s top Christmas Markets explored
If you find it hard to get into the Christmas spirit, there is nothing better than browsing some of Europe’s most charming Christmas markets. The scent of mulled wine and excited conversation fills the night air and shops are packed to bursting point with traditional wooden toys and decorations.
With the festivities about to begin in earnest, newly re-launched travel search engine nowfly.co.uk has just put its top five European Christmas Markets on the website, to give travellers a flavour of what lies in store just a short hop away. Here are some of the highlights:
Best for food – Brussels
Big, busy and open from 27 November to 3 January 2010, Plaisirs d'Hiver (Winter Wonders) sees a collection of wooden chalets set up shop in the Grand-Place. If it’s too busy, try the Place Sainte Catherine instead. This year’s guest country is Mongolia, so expect the décor to have an Asian twist to it.
Top tip – for the first time there will be a 40-metre outdoor luge, with real ice and views of the Big Wheel.
Return flights departing Heathrow on the 16th December, returning 21st December 2010 start from £110 inclusive of taxes per person. Hotels start from £44 per night.
Best for children - Cologne
Opening on 27 November until 23 December, the biggest of the four markets here is in front of the cathedral but families should head to the Old Town and the Alter Market. In front of the narrow-gabled houses of the Old Town Hall, the cobbled square and half-timbered stalls have a unique atmosphere all of their own.
Top tip – tears soon dry up when fractious children clap eyes on lebkuchen, the famous gingerbread biscuits.
Return flights departing Gatwick on the 10th December, returning 14th December 2010 start from £67 inclusive of taxes per person. Hotels start from £45 per night.
Best for pixies - Copenhagen
Held in the Tivoli gardens from 20 November to 30 December, picture a blizzard of 3,300 strings of lights and Christmas trees lit up like, well, Christmas trees. Alongside the other rides, the clear favourite is the 150-years-old double-decker merry-go-round. After a spin, head to Nissekøbing (Pixieville), an indoor Christmas town with hundreds of mechanical pixies busily preparing for Christmas.
Top tip – for a special meal, dine at the Michelin-starred Herman restaurant in the Tivoli.
Return flights departing Manchester on the 10th December, returning 14th December 2010 start from £215 inclusive of taxes per person. Hotels start from £80 per night.
Best for less crowds – Prague
From 28 November to 1 January 2010, unlike some of the more frenetic Christmas markets packed with people, Prague’s ones remain less busy and more pleasant for browsing handmade jewellery and other stocking-fillers. Feast on fine sausages and corn on the cob, washed down with the local mulled wine, called sva_ené víno.
Top tip – the huge tree, chosen specially and brought from the mountains of the north, has its lights turned on at approximately 5pm each day.
Return flights departing Luton on the 10th December, returning 14th December 2010 start from £59 inclusive of taxes per person. Hotels start from £60 per night.
Best for snow – Tallinn
Running from 29 November to 7 January, children can dispatch their Christmas wishes from Santa’s Post Office, guided by two elves called Scribble and Scrabble, carols will warm the heart and soup will warm anywhere else that is feeling the cold.
Top tip – thanks to its northerly location, if you are dreaming of a white Christmas Estonia is a reliable bet.
Return flights departing Stansted on the 10th December, returning 14th December 2010 start from £115 inclusive of taxes per person. Hotels start from £70 per night.
For full details visit nowfly.co.uk.