City Lights & Markets

Christmas lights bring a glistening magic to the urban grey in city centres up and down the land. No bustling hub at Christmas is complete without their majesty. ‘Switch-on Premieres’ have become special, celebrity-driven events and for many people signal the start of the festive season. This is ‘The Christmas Home’ section, so it felt right we shed some light on home city festivities as well as the homes in which we live. That includes the now firmly established Christmas markets.

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UK Christmas Lights Switch-on Dates 2017 & Christmas Market News

Bath

Market Dates: November 23 to December 10, 2017 – Bath’s striking Georgian streets provide the perfect backdrop to some 170 chalets that transform the area around the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey into a Christmas wonderland. Around 85 percent of the stallholders are businesses from Bath and neighbouring areas. Bath is wonderful pretty much any time of the year. But at Christmas there is an extra sparkle.

Birmingham

Switch-on: November 16, 2017; Market Dates: November 16 to December 24 – Just like last year, the big switch-on in Birmingham coincides with the official opening of the increasingly popular German market that runs until and including Christmas Eve.  The market is known by the council and its organiser Kurt Stroscher as “Frankfurt Christmas Market Birmingham”. Taking place in Victoria Square and New Street, it’s the largest market of its kind outside Germany and Austria. Stroscher, who is Frankfurt City Council’s director of festivals and events, told the Birmingham Mail: “Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the partnership between Birmingham and Frankfurt, therefore the market took place until the 29th of December. This year there is no anniversary and every year we discuss which time the market should finish and this year we decided the 24th of December.” Birmingham’s Christmas Market will be open from 10am to 9pm every dayThere’s a neighbouring Christmas Craft Fair in Centenary Square.

Bolton

Switch-on: November 16 – Comedian and TV presenter Paddy McGuinness will switch on the Bolton Christmas Lights this year on November 16. Bolton will again have a 55 metre slide at the centre of its Winter Festival. And while that dominates Newport Street, Victoria Square will host a covered ice rink that allows skating fun whatever the weather. Both these attractions open on December 2, 2017 and stay open until January 7, 2018.

Bournemouth

Market Dates: November 14, 2017 to January 4, 2018 – A new alpine market will transform Bournemouth town centre into a winter wonderland. The streets will be lined with boutique stalls serving up tasty treats from local suppliers and myriad stocking ideas. Bournemouth’s Grade II listed Victorian Gardens will be invitingly illuminated. Nestled in the heart of the resort’s historic gardens, you’ll discover an ice rink (open from November 16 to January 2) where you can skate under the stars or snuggle under blankets in the après skate chalet.

Bristol

Switch-on: November 10 & November 16; Market Dates: November 10 to December 24; November 19 to December 24 & weekends from November 25 to December 24: Bristol’s Christmas lights will be switched on amid a swirl of festive activity on November 10, when the first Christmas markets will also open (and stay open up to and including Christmas Eve). The switch-on is a free event at Cabot Circus, starting at 4.45pm. The lights will sparkle not only in Cabot Circus, Broadmead and The Galleries but also at nearby St. Nicholas Market, Corn Street, College Green and Park Street. St. Nick’s Christmas Market in the old city starts on November 19 and is home to more than 60 independent retailers. On weekends only from November 25 to December 24, there’s also the Harbourside Christmas Market.

Pop group The Vamps will be switching on The Mall’s Christmas lights at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol on Thursday November 16. They will also perform a charity concert that will take place alongside The Mall’s Winter Wonderland, a fabulous festive experience that boasts the South West’s largest outdoor ice rink, Santa’s Enchanted Ice Castle and a Christmas train ride inside The Mall. It all begins on November 16 and runs until January 7, 2018. For more information check out visitbristol.co.uk.

Cardiff

Market Dates: November 9 to December 23, 2017 – The Cardiff Christmas Market will return to the pedestrian streets of Cardiff city centre. Last year, some 200 businesses from across Wales exhibited their fine products and many are expected to return as Cardiff’s festive market continues to flourish. Market trading hours are 10am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm Sundays. There is late night opening until 7pm on Thursdays in December.

Carlisle

Switch-on: November 19 –  Organised by Carlisle City Council, this free event will provide an enjoyable family entertainment programme to suit all ages. The switch-on stage will be in the city centre pedestrianised area, outside the Old Town Hall. More at discovercarlisle.co.uk.

Cotswolds

Switch-on: December 1, 2017 – One of the famous seasonal attractions in the Cotswolds is the lighting of the Bourton on the Water Christmas tree that’s erected each year by the Chamber of Commerce and the Parish Council – not simply in the village but in the river. The area is awash with fairy lights and the high street closed to traffic for the evening so shoppers can wander through the streets absorbing the festive atmosphere. Check bourtoninfo.com/news-events/christmas.

Coventry

Switch-on: November 22, 2017 – Coventry’s Christmas lights switch-on takes place on Wednesday November 22, with thousands of people expected to join in the city centre fun from 5pm in Broadgate.

Derby

Switch-on: November 18 – Gem 106 radio presenters Jo and Sparky will turn on the Christmas lights in Derby on Saturday November 18. There will be a festive parade – starting from The Sport at 3.30pm – and entertainment on the Market Place stage, with the switch-on around 6pm. Also in Derbyshire, Matlock lights will be switched on two weeks later on Saturday December 2 in an event hosted by The Ambassadors Showband Derby. The entertainment starts in Matlock town centre from 2pm.

Edinburgh

Market Dates: November 17, 2017 to January 6, 2018 2017 – Edinburgh’s Christmas is a spectacular, six-week season of festive entertainment in the heart of the city. Scotland knows how to celebrate New Year better than most, but does a mean job of Christmas too. Edinburgh’s festivities return to their regular site at East Princes Street Gardens, near to the winter ice rink. Neighbouring ‘Santaland’ has a children’s market and there’s a grotto where kids can meet Father Christmas. There’s a Scottish section of the market, with traditional crafts and gifts, as well as an eclectic European section.

Exeter

Market Dates: November 16 to December 17, 2017 – The Exeter Christmas Market has been re-worked so the focus falls on the West Front of the splendid cathedral. New for 2017 is the bandstand, where local choirs, bands and carol singers will perform. The market will also offer more opportunities to support local businesses. Trading times: Monday to Wednesday 10am-7pm; Thursday to Saturday 10am-9pm; Sunday: 11am-5pm.

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Falmouth

Switch-on: November 30 – Falmouth’s Christmas lights are switched on this year at the end of November. A children’s parade starts at Events Square at around 5.30pm and finishes on The Moor, where the schools perform Christmas songs and carols before the lights are switched on at 7pm.

Glasgow

Switch-on: November 19 – The city’s festive celebrations will commence with the switch on of Glasgow’s Christmas Lights in George Square. Tickets for this much-loved event are always in big demand and are distributed by public ballot in October. For more details of the ballot check out: glasgowloveschristmas.com. That address will also give you details of this year’s Christmas markets at St. Enoch Square and George Square.

King’s Lynn

Switch-on: November 26 – One of the biggest events in the King’s Lynn calendar will take place on Sunday November 26, starting at 12 noon and running until around 6pm. The lights switch-on will be the main event, of course, but there will be street entertainers, music and the chance for children to meet Father and Mother Christmas – as well as some of their favourite prince and princesses.

Lake District

Switch-on: November 18 – Ambleside: The annual Ambleside Christmas lights switch-on involves a Father Christmas cruise followed by a parade through the Lake District town at dusk, featuring hundreds of paper lanterns. Young and old turn out to witness the spectacular procession and the Christmas street lights throughout Ambleside town centre are switched on by Santa Claus. There is also a family fun zone, local entertainers & musicians, stalls throughout the town and a firework display. There are other switch-on events across the Lake District in November, including the popular ceremony in Keswick on November 24, 2017. For more check out yourguide2thelakedistrict.co.uk/events.

Lincoln

Switch-on: November 17; Market Dates: December 7 to 10 – Start the countdown to Christmas in this historic city, famous for its Medieval cathedral, at the annual Christmas Lights Switch-on at St. Marks Shopping Centre and on Lincoln High Street. The festive fun begins at 5pm with the big switch-on expected at 6.45pm. The shops along the High Street quarter and at St. Marks Shopping Centre will be open late. Lincoln’s Christmas Market runs from Thursday December 7 to Sunday December 10, 2017 in Lincoln’s Cathedral Quarter, with more than 280 stalls nestled in and around the castle and cathedral. More details on all the city’s festivities at visitlincoln.com.

Liverpool

Switch-on: November 9 – The Liverpool ONE switch-on will help give the city its festive sparkle, with the 30 metre Christmas tree on Paradise Street taking pride of place. There will be live music, street entertainment and a flavour of pantomime, culminating in the switch on of the tree with an impressive light performance created by the Liverpool Empire Theatre.

London

Switch-on: November 16 – Regent Street: This year’s Christmas lights switch-on will again be a star-studded event, while Regent Street itself will be closed to traffic. Discover all the events in 2017 and keep up to date with retailer promotions and in-store events by downloading the Regent Street iPhone App. The lights are on until January 5, 2018.

Switch-on: November 7  Oxford Street: The annual Oxford Street Christmas lights switch-on will set the scene for the festive season in the English capital, with music and amazing illuminations that have cost in excess of one million pounds in previous years. For 2017, the shopping hub will be home to 1,778 decorations and 750,000 LED lightbulbs inspired by falling snowflakes. It’s the fifty-eighth year the road has been decorated for the season, while Oxford Street’s Christmas charity partner the NSPCC return for a second year, alongside Sky Cinema, for a festive ‘Light up Christmas for Children’ campaign raising money for Childline. This year, pop star Rita Ora has been given the honour of pushing the button, following in the footsteps of such superstars as Kylie Minogue, The Spice Girls and Robbie Williams. Last year’s “X Factor” winner Matt Terry will perform. The Oxford Street lights will be twinkling away until January 5, 2018.

Switch-on: November 14 – Covent Garden: The cobbled piazza and market buildings are resplendent in fairy light delight from mid-November. Decorations have a mistletoe theme for 2017, with more than 40 mistletoe chandeliers hanging over the streets and market buildings.

Market Dates: November 10, 2017 to January 7, 2018– Leicester Square: In 2016, London’s newest Christmas destination was Leicester Square, which will be again be home this year to Santa’s Grotto and a traditional Christmas market.

Market/Festival Dates: November 17, 2017 to January 1, 2018 – Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park: London’s Hyde Park will again be home to a festive Winter Wonderland. Gates open at 5pm on the first night and Wonderland will be open from 10am-10pm daily thereafter (except Christmas Day). Entry is free but tickets will be required in advance for such pastimes as ice skating and watching festive shows.

London Lights & Market Delights: You might also want to seek out other switch-on events, like Carnaby on November 9, Marylebone Village on November 15, Seven Dials on November 16 and Kingston on November 16. As for fun in the marketplace, there are more capital options aplenty, including Greenwich Wintertime Festival at the heritage-listed Old Royal Naval College, next to the Cutty Sark, from Friday December 1 to Sunday December 31, 2017 and Winterville on Clapham Common from November 23, 2017 to January 1, 2018.

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Manchester

Switch-on: November 4 – Manchester’s Christmas lights will be switched on this year on Saturday November 4, with international DJ Sigala, Pixie Lott and “Coronation Street” actress Brooke Vincent in attendance. There will also be a spectacular fireworks display – most apt for the weekend of Bonfire Night. The Manchester Christmas lights switch-on officially opens six weeks of seasonal celebrations and attractions. The council advises that once the switch-on venue of Albert Square reaches capacity, access into the area will be restricted. A number of road closures will be in place on the evening.

Market Dates: November 10 to December 20 – The 2017 Manchester Christmas Markets will be open from November 10th and promise to deliver another season of delight. Some stalls in front of the town hall will stay open until December 21. Spread across the city centre, the Christmas Markets are located within about a quarter of a mile of each other. Known as the original, biggest and best Christmas Markets in the UK, Manchester Christmas Markets have been voted one of the best in Europe by the European Best Destinations organisation. Manchester was the only UK city to make the top ten list.

Switch-on: Trafford Centre – November 2: Experimental orchestra Manchester Camerata and former Hacienda DJ Dave Haslam will perform at this year’s intu Trafford Centre Christmas lights switch-on ceremony on Thursday November 2. The Classical Christmas Lights Night takes place from 7.30pm in the shopping centre’s Main Dome. Tickets are not required. Set against the spectacular backdrop of more than £1m worth of Christmas lights, the event kicks off the shopping centre’s busiest eight weeks of the year. Other festive events this year at the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester include the opening of the intu Christmas wheel, an augmented-reality grotto and a Christmas parade.

Norwich

Switch-on: November 16 – The good people of Norwich, get set for some illumination. The Christmas lights switch-on event takes place on November 16 from 6pm, with festivities expected to run until 10pm. Music will fill the air and there will be a parade with Father Christmas, entertainment in front of City Hall and the main event – the switching on of the city centre lights.

Nottingham

Switch-on: November 24; Market/Festival Dates: November 17 to December 31, 2017 –  The switch-on event in Nottingham, from 5.30-8pm on Friday November 24, takes place a week after another wintry festive arrival. Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland is open in Old Market Square from Friday November 17 to Sunday December 31 and allows you to enjoy ice skating surrounded by the Christmas lights and trees as well as browse cabins selling seasonal food, drinks, Christmas crafts and gifts. Check nottinghamcity.gov.uk/events for more details.

Perth

Switch-on: November 18 – The City of Perth Christmas Light Switch-on sees the city centre illuminated by thousands of lights as the culmination of an afternoon of entertainment and celebrations. The day will also include local groups on the Community Stage, along with a headline act on the main stage. The switch-on is expected around 6.15pm.

 Plymouth

Switch-on: Mid-November – Celebrate the start of the festive season on the south coast of Devon with the Plymouth City Centre Christmas Lights Switch-on. Market Dates: November 30 to December 21 – Plymouth’s city centre Piazza will be transformed into a Christmas market, with more than fifty log cabin stalls set to trade. For 2017, there will be a bigger bar area, ten new stands and Christmas entertainment.

Preston

Switch-on: November 25 – Preston’s Christmas Lights Switch-on will take place on Saturday November 25, 2017 from 5.30pm. It will be accompanied by the annual concert and entertainment on the Flag Market.

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Ramsgate

Switch-on: November 26 – Ramsgate’s Christmas lights are switched on amid a wealth of festive entertainment. The Annual Christmas Fair event takes place in and around High Street, King Street, Queen Street and Harbour Street in Ramsgate town centre and includes Santa’s Grotto, a children’s choir, craft fair, land train, fairground rides and a children’s workshop making lanterns for the winter procession. Harbour Event: December 1 – 31, 2017 – Enjoy coastal illuminations at Ramsgate Royal Harbour as it enters into the Christmas spirit for a fourth successive year throughout December. Last year, more than 40 boats were illuminated for the season in an event organised in a joint venture between Royal Temple Yacht Club and Ramsgate Marina Association, sponsored by the local council and Ramsgate Town Team. It’s a wonderful spectacle and a tradition that appears here to stay.

St. Helier

Switch-on: November 23 – A festive evening of fun and live entertainment in St. Helier marks the start of Christmas celebrations in Jersey. There’s Santa’s Parade from Millennium Town Park as he makes his way through town, switching on the lights as he goes. He arrives in the Royal Square for the main Christmas lights switch on at about 6pm, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

Salisbury

Switch-on: November 16 – Salisbury’s Christmas Lights Switch-on will take place on Thursday November 16, 2017 between 6pm and 8pm at the Market Place. The annual event attracts thousands of people, showcases local bands and performers and kick starts Christmas in Salisbury, as well as late-night shopping in the historic city.

Shrewsbury

Festival Dates: Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 December 2017 – From the organisers of the Shrewsbury Food Festival, the second Shrewsbury Winter Festival is heading to town, with an array of Christmas goods from around one hundred exhibitors featuring the best artisan local foods and handmade crafts.

Southampton

Switch-on: November 11 – At 5pm on Saturday November 11, the Right Worshipful Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Les Harris, and Wave 105 DJ Mark Collins call upon some Christmas magic to bring the festive lights to life in Southampton. After the lights switch-on you can enjoy Santa’s first flight to mark the opening of the Southampton Christmas Festival. Market/Festival Dates: November 11 to December 23 – The wonderful flying Santa returns to the skies as part of this year’s festival, which takes place on Above Bar pedestrian precinct and Bargate Street from Saturday November 11 to Saturday December 23, 2017. The festival features a traditional German market, operated by internationally renowned WELA Märkte. The market includes more than 40 independent stallholders offering a range of hand-made, traditional gifts and seasonal food and rink. Find out more at discoversouthampton.co.uk.

Stratford

Switch-on: November 23 – The Christmas lights in Stratford will be switched on at around 4.30pm on Thursday November 23, 2017, preceded by carol singing from 4pm. The festive lights display in Stratford is glorious, presided over by a team of volunteers and funded by grants from the Town Trust and the Town Council and by individual donations from businesses and the general public.

Swansea

Festival Dates: November 17, 2017 to January 7, 2018 – Waterfront Winterland returns to Swansea from November 17 at 5pm until a week into the New Year. For the 12th year, Museum Park (in the grounds of the National Waterfront Museum) will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland. Tickets go on sale from October 1, 2017. Keep across all the planned festivities in Swansea at swanseachristmas.com.

Truro

Switch-on: November 22, 2017 – Happy 21st birthday City of Lights. Nothing heralds the start of the festive season quite like this magical occasion. Held in November each year, the event sees a dazzling procession of withy and tissue lanterns float through the streets, handmade and carried by professional artists, Cornish school children and local community and youth groups. The event includes the official switch on of Truro’s Christmas lights. For more check cityoflights.org.uk.

York

Market/Festival Dates: November 16 to December 22, 2017 – St. Nicholas Fair is at the heart of the festivities. Traditional wooden chalets bring festive warmth to Parliament Street, St. Sampson’s Square and The Judge’s Lodging. There’s more to explore at Davygate, Coppergate and York’s famous Shambles Market. Highlights include: Nov 16 – Festive First Night; Nov 18-19 – Brass Band Weekend; Nov 25-26 – Choir Weekend; Dec 2-3 – Family Weekend; Dec 9-10 – Ice Trail; Dec 16-17 – Shambles Party.

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International Christmas Markets 2017

Some of the most popular and celebrated UK Christmas markets include Manchester, Belfast, Bath, Winchester and Portsmouth. There were more than 150 Christmas markets in different cities, towns and villages across the UK last year. Some of this year’s market dates are mentioned alongside the City Lights above. Both events are inextricably intertwined in certain towns and cities.

Christmas markets open up and down the land in November and have become a fixture of the seasonal festivities here. But the tradition is one that has been borrowed from the continent, where you can find a glorious array of Christmas markets.

Berlin, Germany (November 23 – December 31, 2017) – There are around sixty markets in the German capital Berlin, including Winter World on Potsdamer Platz in the city centre. It is so huge there is even space for Europe’s biggest toboggan run. Berlin is a great weekend destination whatever time of year, but at Christmas there’s added sparkle and magic. You might consider a trip to nearby Potsdam, one of the most captivating historic cities in Germany, where the Christmas markets are surrounded by impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Last year, a sickening terrorist attack hit the Berlin market – but locals and tourists were unbowed and continued to celebrate the season. Such vile acts will never win out over good, especially at Christmas. In 2017, let’s celebrate Berlin and its great people more than ever.

Bruges, Belgium (November 24, 2017 – January 1, 2018) – Beautiful Bruges, canals, cobbles, lace and all, is a wonderful medieval backdrop to the annual Christmas market. Among the attractions is an ice skating rink at the Grote Markt, in the shadow of the 83 metre high belfry. Climb the 366 steps to the top and you will have an amazing view of the picturesque place and proceedings below. There’s another market in smaller, tree-lined Simon Stevinplein. Eurostar will have you there in three and a half hours from St. Pancras Station, London, with a quick change in Brussels. We can almost smell the warm waffles wafting through the festive markets.

Brussels, Belgium (November 24 – December 31, 2017) – The Belgian capital, like Bruges, keeps its Christmas market open through to the New Year. This 200-stall site forms part of the Winter Wonders event that also offers fairground attractions and ice-skating. The event takes place at the Grand-Place in Brussels and around the Bourse, the Place de la Monnaie, the Place Sainte-Catherine and the Marché aux Poissons. There are light and sound shows on the Grand-Place and a Christmas parade. Brussels is served by Eurostar, making it one of the most accessible market cities for British travellers.

Cologne, Germany (November 27 – December 23, 2017) – Check online festive market surveys in recent years and you are almost always certain to see Cologne’s Christmas market in or around the top 10. The city stages seven Christmas markets, among them the four biggest located at the Cologne Cathedral, on the Alter Markt, on the Neumarkt (Cologne’s oldest Christkindlmarkt even though its located on the New Market) and on the Rudolfplatz. Every year this wonderful quartet alone attracts almost 2 million visitors. The market at the cathedral is a stunning sight (see the picture below). Beneath the imposing building and the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland you can find more than 160 festively designed wooden pavilions. Here you can see artisans at work, buy gifts, sweets and local delicacies or sip mulled wine. Set against the historic backdrop of Hahnentorburg, one of Cologne’s three mediaeval gatehouses, the Christmas market on the Rudolfplatz takes you to a world of brother’s Grimm fairy tales. Please note that dates of the various markets may vary.

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Dresden, Germany (November 29 – December 24, 2017) – If it is history you seek then it comes in bucket-loads in this German city. Altmarkt Square in the heart of Dresden has held a Striezelmarkt since the mid-15th century – one of the oldest in Germany. Since 1434, the market has preserved its distinctive character. The market’s name comes from the Christmas bread Stollen, which is also known as “Striezel” in Middle High German. Every year the traditional Stollen Festival is celebrated in honour of this delicacy and each year the ceremonial first slice of the giant Stollen at the Striezelmarkt is followed by a Stollen procession through the Baroque Old Town.

Innsbruck, Austria (November 15 – December 23, 2017) – The snow-covered Nordkette Mountains provide a wondrous wintry backdrop to the magical market of some sixty stalls in the Tirolean capital’s Old Town of medieval houses and famous Golden Roof. Innsbruck’s Christkindlmarkt Maria-Theresien-Strasse usually runs later, until early January 2018.

Krakow, Poland (November 24 – December 26, 2017) – Historic Krakow, one of the few Polish cities to emerge with many beautiful buildings intact post-war, is a perfect setting for a traditional Christmas market. Not to disappoint, Krakow’s citizens pull out all the stops to ensure the festive feel matches the surroundings at the city’s huge central square, Rynek Glowny, in the middle of the Old Town. Local artisans, such as blacksmiths and carvers, present their crafts.

Lille, France (November 17 – December 27, 2017) – Marche de Noel in France are a seasonal joy. Markets in Lille and Paris are well served by the Eurostar connection. A giant Ferris wheel delightfully dominates the setting of Lille’s Christmas market in picturesque The Place Rihour. Expect chalet stalls full of gifts and decorations but also, as its France, food and wine aplenty.global Paris toffee apples_163369928

Munich, Germany (November 27 – December 24, 2017) – The cosmopolitan capital of Bavaria is one of the great traditional homes for Christmas markets – the most renowned of which is at Marienplatz near the city’s splendid town hall. The origins of the Christmas Market here date back to the so-called “Nicholaus Markets” of the 14th century. Town records first mention a “Nikolaidult” that took place near the Beautiful Tower in Kaufingerstrasse in 1642. While planning a trip to Munich, look out for such festive offerings as the Heavenly Workshop for children aged 6-12, Krampus Run, the Manger Market and Advent tram rides.

Nuremburg, Germany (November 1 – December 24, 2017) – One of the oldest and most spectacular of all Christmas markets is staged in the German city of Nuremburg. Food is to the fore, be it the famous Nuremburg sausages or the historic gingerbread Lebkuchen that has been made there for more than six hundred years. Also check out the curious handmade Nuremburg Prune Men, made from dried prunes and figs. The most important symbol of the Nurnburg Christkindlmarkt is the Christkind, resplendent in crown and golden dress. You can meet the Christkind daily at 3pm from December 1-23. There’s also the wonderfully nostalgic stagecoach tour.

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Paris, France (November 11, 2017 – January 8, 2018) – There are more than 350 wooden chalets in the market at La Defense, making it the biggest in the French capital. The market on the famed Champs-Elysees is an undeniably beautiful attraction. The streets and the main shops in the shopping areas, notably the department stores such as Galeries Lafayette in the Boulevard Haussmann area, vie with each other to produce the most elaborate Christmas decorations and Christmas windows. Other markets: Saint Germain des Prés in the Latin quarter where you will find Santa’s village from mid-November to early January; Quai Branly on the banks of the Seine close to the Eiffel Tower from mid-December to early January; Montmartre in front of the Sacré Coeur from late November until early January and also at Montparnasse, the Gare de l’Est, the Gare Saint-Lazare and the Place de la Nation. Markets in Paris are well served by the Eurostar connection. Marche de Noel Parisien style anyone?

Prague, Czech Republic (December 2, 2017 – January 6, 2018) – A statue of Good King Wenceslas stands proudly in the Czech capital, so it seems only fitting this fine figure of Christmas carol fame should have a Christmas market staged in the square bearing his name. However, it is in Prague’s Old Town Square that you will find the largest of the city’s Christmas markets and the most magnificent of illuminated trees. Visitors can watch traditional foods being made and sample local produce. Large hams are roasted on spits, there are delicious barbequed sausages known as Klobása and cakes and pastries are prepared in front of you, such as the hot sugarcoated Trdelník. The Christmas market at the Old Town Square has an animal stable, where children can stroke sheep, goats and a donkey. There are smaller markets at Republic Square, on Kampa Island in the Lesser Town and by St. George’s Basilica at Prague Castle.

Verona, Italy (November 24 – Late December 2017) – The ancient Italian city of Verona hosts a sparkling market offering regional food and handmade gifts, as well as the Arena di Verona – a marvellous spectacle of more than 400 beautifully staged nativity scenes (from November 18, 2017 to January 21, 2018). The Italians pride themselves on these elaborate crib displays so expect to find them amid the other festive finery at all Italy’s Christmas markets, from the Roman capital to the Trentino region of the Italian Alps.

Vienna, Austria (November 18 – December 30, 2017) – There are as many as 25 Christmas markets in the Austrian capital, including one beside City Hall. Viennese markets are believed to have existed since the early 13th century when Albrecht I of Germany allowed Vienna’s citizens to hold a December market – a Krippenmarkt. Schloss Schonbrunn, a visitor attraction in its own right, stages a market that runs until the New Year.

Other international locations to have rated highly in online Christmas markets surveys in recent years include: Dusseldorf and Baden-Baden in Germany; Basel in Switzerland, Graz in Austria, Budapest in Hungary and Barcelona in Spain.

For more details of Christmas markets in the UK and abroad you can visit christmasmarkets.com.

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