TOP 10: CHRISTMAS MARKETS
Thinking of a city break to break up the winter gloom? Christmas markets will leave even the biggest of Scrooges aglow with festive cheer. Find something unique, seasonal or just downright kitsch in the Yule wonderland of your choice while taking in the fairytale architecture, grand squares or skating round the rink. Warm up afterwards with some Glühwein. You might even see some snow... Here are our 10 best destinations this winter. Ghent: The wintery scent of pine hits as you wander through this Belgian beauty’s square, past wooden huts adorned with deep green fronds. There’s an ice skating rink set up under the City Pavilion, the requisite giant Christmas tree, and stalls selling everything from crêpes to decorations. Ghent is the picture-perfect festive city, and striking hotel 1898 The Post is the perfect spot from which to explore, set in the sexily gothic post office building.
December 7 to January 6.
Rates start at €180, room only. See zannierhotels. com/1898thepost. Fly to Brussels with Aer Lingus from €35.99 one way ( aerlingus.com). Ghent is less than an hour away by train, which leaves directly from the airport.
Düsseldorf: Want a little more bang for your buck? Head to Düsseldorf, where there are no less than seven individual markets, all within walking distance of Festive spirit: See the sweeping Lindau Harbour on a Lake Constance cruise each other. The main event, on Marktplatz, features lines of huts that match the architecture of City Hall. You’ll find glass blowers and wood turners all demonstrating their skills, as well as a beautiful vintage merry-go-round. Nearby, at Heinrich-Heine-Platz, the stalls are filled with hundreds of tiny glowing golden angels — Germany at Christmas will warm the heart of any Scrooge.
November 22 to December 30.
LastMinute.com has two nights in a four-star hotel from €110pp, departing December 3.
Bruges: Christmas is hardly a time for moderation. ’Tis the season for hefty overindulgence, whether you’re digging into the mince pies or the mulled wine. But if you’re the sort who makes a beeline for the tin of chocolates, then a trip to Bruges will be like a pilgrimage.
Soak up some early festive cheer with a trip to a Christmas market, writes Nicola Brady