Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - Style -

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 ( aer­lin­ 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. has two nights in a four-star ho­tel from €110pp, de­part­ing De­cem­ber 3.

See dues­sel­dorf-touris­

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

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