After a long warm summer and the prospect of cooler autumn evenings, if you are short of social invites why not spend your evenings planning in advance to spice up your festive Noel period. In recent years I have started my Christmas shopping at the start of Autumn and made a point of travelling away from home and making a fun-filled day or weekend of it. If you start early in the year you can always find early festive bargains and better still, the queues are not so tiresome.
We are very lucky in the UK as some of our historic towns and cities like Winchester and Bath hold traditional Christmas themed markets and one that stands out as being very different is in Birmingham. Here you can find the largest authentic Frankfurt market held outside Germany and Austria and visitors can soak up the festive atmosphere.
If the UK seems to close to home and you fancy a European city break why not book your car onto the Eurotunnel and take a leisurely drive through northern Europe’s scenic landscapes. There are lots of interesting traditions and festivities to discover throughout Europe, but if driving seems too much like hard work and you just want to sit back and relax, why not catch the Eurostar or take a ferry to France and then let a train transport you through the European countryside, to the sights & sounds of some of the best Christmas markets Europe has to offer.
If you love to see Christmas trees adorned with decorations and prefer fairytale themed Christmas markets, then Berlin is the place to visit between the 24th November and the 31st December 2014. Berlin is better known as the capital city of the German Christmas Markets and this can be seen in all their decorations. Whether you prefer a magical Christmas Market or a lively and urban one, Berlin offers you a choice of sixty Christmas Markets held in grand boulevards, squares and museums, they’ll surprise you with their magic, charm and Christmassy delicacies – there’s something for everyone here.
If you’re looking for something on a smaller scale, then it doesn’t get much quainter than Bruges with its intimate cobbled streets, medieval architecture, and picturesque bustling squares. Add to this an abundance of twinkling lights and impressive Christmas decorations and you’ve got one magical city. The main market activities take place between the 21st November and the 2nd January 2015 in the Market Square, overlooked by the Belfry of Bruges, a medieval bell tower that dominates the city skyline. You can expect to see people gliding around the outdoor ice rink or warming up with a hot Belgium waffle or mulled wine.
From the 29th November to the 4th January 2015 the centre of Brussels transforms into a winter wonderland, featuring a magical Christmas market, street activities and numerous live animations and illuminations bringing a unique atmosphere to the city. The market stretches for 2 km with a series of shops, attractions and outdoor eating and drinking areas along side wooden chalets selling handicrafts and other unusual stocking-fillers.
Since 1915 Stockholm has held a genuine old town Christmas market. From the 22nd November until the 23rd December 2014 the old town is filled with little red stalls selling warm gingerbread, cheese and crafts. How about buying alternative Christmas presents this year like smoked sausages, jams, reindeer jerky, sweets or handcrafted presents like traditional holiday decorations, arts & crafts or knitwear.
From the 22nd November to the 26th December 2014, Vienna’s prettiest squares transform into magical Christmas markets with the air filled with aromas of fresh Christmas bakery and hot berry punch. Traditional Christmas tree decorations, wooden toys, gingerbread hearts and roast chestnuts are on sale as well as carols being sung at many of the markets. The ‘December Market’ in Vienna dates back to 1294 and is regarded by some as the forerunner of the Christmas Markets.
Don’t forget your travel insurance
If you are tempted by any of these Christmas markets, make sure you take the time to purchase adequate travel insurance. Here at Free Spirit we can provide you and your travelling companions with specialist insurance to cover you for such things as cancellation and emergency medical expenses which is especially important if you have a pre-existing medical condition*.
Whilst we hope you won’t need to use the policy, it will give you that extra peace of mind so you can enjoy your trip.
Whatever you do and wherever you go this Christmas, we wish you a super time!
*terms and conditions apply; see the policy wording for full details of the cover provided.