It is fast approaching that magical time of year when children start writing their letters to Santa and grown-ups start creating their Christmas list.
Some are sitting at home all cosy and warm, ordering things unseen through the internet.
Others decide to leave everything until Christmas Eve and endure the hectic and stressful, ‘free for all', at their local retail park.
However, there is a way to make the Christmas shopping experience, festive, fun and enchanting.
Many people are now making their Christmas shopping trip part of their Christmas holiday.
They travel all over Europe in search of unique craft items or homemade produce, to treat their loved ones back at home.
Here the good people at the Radisson Hotel Heathrow give their views on the best markets in Europe.
For the less adventurous the Lille Christmas Market in France is just a 70-minute drive from the Eurotunnel Calais terminal.
The rustic log cabins and artificial snow create the perfect Christmas scene, with twinkling lights and Christmas Carols completing the effect. Various crafts and Nativity figure are available as well as a selection of wines and sweet treats.
The market is from the 20th of November until the 30th of December.
Probably the most famous Christmas Market in Europe is in Strasbourg, it has been an annual event since 1570 and draws up to 2 million visitors each year.
The medieval architecture with its German influence gives the whole market a real, ‘Hansel and Gretel' feeling.
As well as the many stalls and decorations, the air is filled with the sound of choirs, amid the magical winter displays.
The Great Christmas Tree is a reminder of the true spirit of Christmas with gifts being left under it for those in need.
The Strasbourg Christmas Fair is from the 30th of November until the 31st of December.
One of the largest Christmas markets in Germany is in Stuttgart, it is also one of the oldest with a tradition going back over 300 years.
The authentic medieval city provides the perfect backdrop for the delightfully decorated stalls whilst the aroma of roasting nuts, gingerbread, and spiced wine drifts through the air.
An added delight for children of all ages is the fairy grotto with its steam train and real-life Nativity scene.
The Stuttgart Christmas Market is from the 27th of November until the 23rd of December.
Valkenburg, The Netherlands
One of the most unusual Christmas Markets in Europe is in Valkenburg, in The Netherlands.
The market is located in a maze of subterranean passageways which run under the town, creating an amazing real-life magic grotto, complete with Santa and his reindeer.
The caves are decorated with murals and sculptures which add to the atmosphere, as do the traditional crafts on display.
The Valkenburg Christmas Market is from the 15th of November until the 23rd of December.
The choice of Winter markets around Europe is limitless, it would take a lifetime to see them all and each visit would be a unique and memorable experience.
So, for the price of a budget airline ticket and some cheap travel insurance, Winter Wonderland fun can be had by all.
This post was brought to you by Radisson Hotel Heathrow.
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Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Monday 2nd of December 2013
Valkenburg Christmas market is very nice. The caves are beautifully been painted.
Wednesday 27th of November 2013
I would definitely add Vienna, Austria! Myriads of stalls in front of the beautifully lit town hall that are selling all sorts of stuff..There are so many fun things to shop for while walking around drinking spiced hot wine! The live music and street acts are incredible, too.
Monday 25th of November 2013
I love Europes beautiful markets, theres nothing to make me feel more like Christmas then the snow, lights and decorations in an outdoor market atmosphere!
Thursday 31st of October 2013
What a wonderful post. It puts me in the mood for Christmas and the magical markets. My favorite part is the hot wine at the end of a successful day of spending money.