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The run up to Christmas should get everyone brimming with excitement. It is a chance to brighten up those gloomy winter nights as the end of the year approaches. One could easily argue that it’s never too early to get the party started – though admittedly playing your festive favourites from September may be a bit much for some! However we are in November now and with Christmas lights being turned on up and down the country, we can officially get into the festive spirit!

So what are the options for getting into the festive mood? One could begin ticking off shopping lists before the chaos and mad panic begins a week before the holidays. Another option is to go see some fireworks (anyone else notice they don’t seem to stop after the 5th November?). However the firm favourite has to be enjoying Christmas markets.

If you are not familiar with Christmas markets, you are in for a treat! A German tradition dating back to the 14th or 15th Century, it was the centre of a city, a chance to visit a ‘Nativity Scene’ as well as eating seasonal treats and keeping warm by sipping mulled wine.

As you have probably deduced, we’re big fans at TakeMeAway and love the atmosphere around Christmas markets. Over the years the concept has spread further than the Germanic speaking countries and now various countries have put their own cultural spin on the experience. Visiting a market is also a great way to discover a new city and is a perfect weekend break.

We’re going to cover 10 of the best markets in Europe; most are beginning on the 26-28th November and run all the way up to Christmas. So now is the perfect time to set your budget, swipe through TakeMeAway and see which of the following cities you could be in throughout the festive season (a shameless plug for our app which can be downloaded for Android and iOS).

Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg

Our list begins with one of the most traditional markets, the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg. The old town is taken over in a thematic gold colour and must do’s include eating the famous gingerbread biscuits as well as a great place to find those stocking filler gift from all around the world.

Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom, Cologne

Cologne’s biggest and glitziest market is set under the famous Cathedral. Along with a massive tree and various handmade gifts, the local food is exceptional and of course do not forget filling up on gluhwein!

Vienna

Vienna was one of our top autumn destinations and it is no surprise that it features again. Street markets take over the city covering all the main squares. The smell of baking and mulled wine keeps your senses alive as you explore and search for trinkets. The market  backdrops on City Hall Square (featured in our picture) is a beautiful introduction to what Vienna offers.

Innsbruck

Innsbruck is the newest addition to the TakeMeAway app. Set against the backdrop of the Alps, it is a rather pretty sight, especially in Christmas market season. From the old town to the market square, wine and hot punch keep you going as you search for gifts. Our tip – visit Maria-Theresien-Straße, illuminated by modern light including the large mountain crystal towers over the boulevard  You must also take a Funicular up into the Alps and gaze over this gorgeous city!

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Tivoli was this author’s first encounter with a non German Christmas market and in many ways the Danish have managed to outdo the traditionalists. Set in a theme park (with over 20 rides no less), come say hello to Santa and wander through some stunningly decorated gardens. The market is open from now all the way to Christmas so you have maximum flexibility to visit.

Trondheim

Taking place between the 7-19 December, one of our favourite winter breaks also plays hosts to a very traditional market. What makes it even more interesting is the 100+ shows ranging from concerts to theatre performances. And if the weather is cooperating, hire a sleigh and enjoy the snow…..

Bruges

Picture perfect all year round, Bruges’ town square contains a huge ice skating rink in the middle. When in Belgium we do like to eat – with plenty of stalls making fresh waffles and indulgent hot chocolate to stave off the cold. Yum!

Natal e na Fil market, Lisbon

Our list takes us to slightly warmer climates beginning with Lisbon. Not necessarily the biggest market on our list, Lisbon compensates with enthusiasm and bringing a southern flair to proceedings. Note the dates for the market which are between 5-9 Dec.

Mercados Navideño, Sevilla

Sevilla has four Christmas markets. Four! So running out of things to do on a weekend break is highly unlikely. We recommend starting at the Metropol Parasol and walking through to Alameda de Hércules, one of the hip districts in Sevilla. Oh don’t forget to visit the Gran Mercado de Navidad Nervión too, which is one of the best shopping areas in the city.

Fiera di Natale, Bologna

Italy has also embraced the Christmas markets spirit and we’ve selected Bologna out of the many options the country has to offer. Set next to the San Pietro Cathedral the market is teeming with gift ideas and handicrafts. Bologna itself should be explored on foot as you wander the medieval centre. It is also a university city with a young vibrant scene, so the cafe and bar scene is quite excellent.

Hopefully this list has given you some inspiration to make a Christmas market the focal point for your next weekend break. And if you fancy exploring a market outside of Germany, we’ve got that covered too!

TakeMeAway has a destination for you whatever your budget. Download our app, choose your weekend and how much you want to spend and swipe to find a weekend break this winter.

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