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Forget your local high street, make your way to one of Europe’s Christmas markets and mingle with the locals and meander through the festive stalls, tippling on mulled wine while being serenaded to by Christmas carols singers. So squeeze in a mini festive break to any of these cities and come home with some unusual goodies and lots of presents for the whole family!

FRANCE
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1. BOULOGNE

Where: Vieille Ville (within the walls of the old town)
When:
Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th December 2012
Time:
10am-6pm

Boulogne is magical when the Christmas market is in full swing. Shop to the serenade of Carol singers and breathe in the whiff of mulled wine as it sweetens the frosty air. There is also plenty of entertainment including music, fireworks and the illumination of the belfry.

2. LILLE

Where: Place Rihour (by the tourist office)
When: 21st November to 30th December 2012
Time: Sunday to Thursday 11am to 8pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11am to 9pm, also Saturday 8th, 15th and 22nd of December, until 10 pm, 24th and 30th December, 11 am to 6 pm.

In the run-up to Christmas Lille dazzles with colours and lights. Eighty-three wooden chalet shaped stalls grace Place Rihour, roasting chestnuts and selling jewellery, toys and gifts. Don’t go home without trying the waffles and gingerbread.

3. CHAMPAGNE

Where: Palais du Tau, Reims & Epernay
When: Reims 23rd November – 30 December & Epernay 14-16 December

Reims holds one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe with from with more than 125 wooden chalet stalls, as well as an open-air
skating rink. The market is held in the tree-lined pedestrianized streets of the city centre, all beautifully illuminated with thousands of lights.
There’s also a varied programme of choral concerts, special events and exhibitions throughout the festive season.

GERMANY
—–

4. BERLIN

Where: Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church – Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche
When: 26th November to 6th January 2013
Time: Sunday to Tuesday 11am-9pm, Friday to Saturday 11am-10pm

The streets of Berlin are transformed for a whole month as Christmas markets spring up around Brandenburg gate and other of the city’s squares. But follow the aromas of cinnamon Glühwein wine and roasted almonds to Berlin’s best Christmas market at Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche the centre of western Berlin on Breitscheidplatz. On offer are handicraft stalls, amusements and a variety of cultural events. When you are done shopping, enjoy more retail therapy at Berlin’s best shopping street at the Kurfürstendamm.

5. BREMEN

Where: Market Square
When: 29 November to 23rd December 2012
Time: Monday to Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 11am-8pm

This atmospheric market hailed as one of Germany’s most picturesque takes place in the pretty Market Square of Bremen. The elegant town hall acts as the backdrop to 170 lavishly decorated stalls, and Christmas lights. Then there’s the amazing atmosphere of the seasonal Christmas bazaars that are held in the lower half of the Town Hall and in Böttcherstrasse.

6. DRESDEN

Where: Münzgasse Street
When:
30th November to 24th December 2012
Time: Sunday to Tuesday 10am-8pm, Friday to Saturday 10am-9pm and Christmas Eve until 2pm.

Probably the oldest Christmas Market in Germany, the Striezelmarkt (from the word Striezel), is famous for its Stollenfest (a Stollen is the German version of Christmas cake made with fruit and marzipan). Bakers set about baking the world’s biggest Christmas cake, which ends up weighing 4 tonnes and which is served to the public on December 5th but not before hundreds of pastry chefs carry the cake through the old town.

More: The Travel Magazine

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