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A festive break to one of Europe's amazing Christmas markets makes the perfect early Christmas present. Romantic, festive and fun in equal measure, these famous Christmas fairs are full of twinkle and cheer and are the perfect place to pick up a gift with a difference.
Discover seasonal traditions from across the continent, lavishly decorated historic streets and delicious festive food; welcome to some of the most magical Christmas markets in Europe.
Beautiful Prague is at its most charming in winter. Enjoy getting lost in the picturesque lanes of the old town, see snow envelop the Old Town Square, then warm up in one of the many traditional bars.
Prague's Christmas market fills Wenceslas Square and the streets of the old town. Pick up decorations for your own tree at home or choose the perfect handmade gift while treating yourself to something delicious.
If you want to say you've been to the place where Christmas trees became a festive tradition, then head to Riga. The capital of Latvia claims to have been the first place in the world to put up a fir tree and decorate it while celebrating the festive season. The first Christmas-tree-decorators, who put their tree up in December 1510, then set fire to their creation, but happily that's one tradition that hasn't stuck.
The beautiful old town around Riga's cathedral makes a magical setting for the city's Christmas market, and the quality of the gifts on sale make Riga an option well-worth choosing for your Christmas market break.
Stunning Seville really embraces Christmas. The city streets are richly decorated, and you'll find Christmas markets all over the centre of town. One of the more unusual is the Fair of Cribs, held around the cathedral. This interesting Christmas market, one of the most important of its kind, specialises in Nativity figures and Christmas tree decorations.
Nearby, on Plaza Nueva, the Artisan Christmas Market consists of over 80 stalls selling traditional Spanish gifts and food - make sure you sample a little something for yourself while buying presents for your loved ones.
Magical Budapest is gorgeous in every season, but it really comes into its own in the winter and especially at Christmas, when the two Christmas markets kick-start the festive atmosphere into the city centre and everywhere you look is decorated with fairy lights.
Traditional Hungarian chimney cakes are available all year round but they are particularly delicious at Christmas. Buy some freshly-baked cakes from one of the many stalls as you choose traditional hand-crafted gifts. If all that outdoor shopping is making you feel a little chilly, warm up in one of Budapest's famous thermal baths - the experience of relaxing in the steamy baths in the crisp Budapest winter air is unforgettable.
At the end of November, over 200 wooden chalets set up in Brussels' Grand-Place square and Belgium's largest Christmas market is officially open for business. As well as festive shopping delights, at Brussels' Christmas market you'll also find a Ferris wheel and other fairground rides, plus a sound and light show. On nearby Place de la Monnaie there's even an ice rink, making a Christmas trip to Brussels a great option for all the family.
If your perfect Christmas market trip consists of a short flight, great shopping, great food and great craic, then Dublin is for you. Dublin's main Christmas market takes place on St Stephen's Green, but other interesting markets such as the Dublin Flea Christmas Market pop up all over the city.
Dublin is particularly proud of its Christmas lights; this Christmas the Winter Lights festival will glow so brightly that it may even be seen from planes landing at Dublin Airport - meaning you can start getting in the festive spirit before you've even set foot on Irish soil.
Amsterdam makes a particularly magical Christmas weekend break. You'll find festive decorations on almost every street in the city centre, and walking the canals is a fabulously festive experience - the atmospheric bridges are softly lit and you'll see Christmas trees in the windows of the tall canal-side houses.
Visit Dam Square to see the city's largest Christmas tree and visit the Christmas market stalls, while on Museumplein you'll find an ice rink in front of the grand Rijksmuseum and the iconic 'I heart Amsterdam' sign. Once you've worked up an appetite on the ice, indulge at one of the oliebollen (Dutch doughnut) stalls.
Shopaholics and present-hunters rejoice! During December, Milan hosts a wide range of Christmas markets, meaning you're bound to find the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list. Lovers of a traditional Christmas will delight in the Mercatino di Natale, set underneath Milan's famous cathedral, as well as the market at the atmospheric Sforza castle.
If you're looking for something beautiful, useful and eco-friendly, try the Green Christmas market, near Piazza Spotorno, while the Creatività Artigiana indoor market in Piazza Mercanti is the place to pick up gifts made with love by Italian craftspeople.