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The 10 best Christmas markets in Europe

If time-travel isn't your thing, you may be glad to learn that we've done lots of research to create this year's Christmas market theme at 8 Northumberland Avenue. So much research, in fact, that it would be a shame not to share our findings!

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Christmas markets are an essential part of the seasonal celebrations, but the truth is that not everyone wants the same experience.

The 10 best Christmas markets in Europe

If time-travel isn't your thing, you may be glad to learn that we've done lots of research to create this year's Christmas market theme at 8 Northumberland Avenue. So much research, in fact, that it  would be a shame not to share our findings!

Christmas markets are an essential part of the seasonal celebrations, but the truth is that not everyone wants the same experience. And nothing spoils goodwill to all mankind like flying out for gluhwein and gingerbread, only to be offered sheepskin jackets and miniature porcelain bric-a-brac.

Here's a done a quick run down of the best of the bunch, from Berlin to Barcelona. So if you're not partying in up central London, you'll know where else to go in December.

 1) Tallinn - Estonia

Best for: History (and snow!)

The oldest capital city in northern Europe also boasts one of the very oldest Christmas traditions - the first tree was put up in Tallinn's Town Hall Square in 1441! If you're hanking after a white Christmas, then the good news is that this market nearly always gets a frosty coating.

Don't go if... you hate wooly jumpers and early bedtimes. This also isn't a food market.

2) Gedarmenmarkt - Berlin, Germany

Best for: Unique products (and tasty treats)

There are many Christmas markets in Berlin, but the Gedarmenmarkt is one of the most famous. Filled with merchants selling a huge varity of odd goods from ivory to furniture, this market also has its fair share of food stalls. Who's up for fried apples and hot chocolate?

Don't go if... you don't like crowds. Close to 600,000 people visit over December!

 3) Fira de Santa Llucia - Barcelona, Spain

Best for: Christmas in the sun

If you'd like to get away for Christmas but don't want to miss out on the festive charm of a traditional market, Fira de Santa Llucia is the place to be. There are close to 300 stalls selling trees, decorations and nativity scenes.

Don't go if... you're looking for Christmas food. There's no gluhwein or gingerbread here.

 4) Christkindlmarkt - Vienna, Austria

Best for: Traditionalists

Vienna is home to the very idea of Christmas markets, with some dating back as far as 1294. Christkindlmarkt is for those who think of Christmas markets as an event unto themselves. Over a hundred stalls sell decorations, gingerbread, gluhwein, almond cookies and especially good cheer.

Don't go if... you've become jaded by 'normal' Christmas markets.

 5) Old Town & Wenceslas Square - Prague, Czech Republic

Best for: Breathtaking sights

Prague is host to some of the most beautiful buildings in Europe and Christmas is a great time to see them. Visit the Old Town market for sugar bread and wooden toys, or check out Wenceslas Square (yes, that Good King) for chorists and handmade ceramics.

Don't go if... you hate Baroque architecture.

 6) Tivoli market - Copenhagen, Denmark

Best for: Stylish lighting (and rides!)

You can find apple pancakes, mulled wine and woolen sweaters at the Tivoli Market, but the real draw is the 500,000 fairy lights strewn around this winter wonderland. Created with the help of one of Tiffany and Co.'s past design directors, this glamourous park also includes a variety of themed rides.

Don't go if... you're looking for cheap thrills. Entry, rides and stalls aren't cheap.

 7) Strasbourg - France

Best for: Variety

With a giant icerink, themed events, hundreds of chalet-style stalls and a massive tree, Strasbourg market has won 'Best Christmas Market in Europe' more than once. Quite aside from the charm, there are all sorts of delicious things to eat and drink, like spiced orange juice, choucroute and baeckeoffe stew.

Don't go if... if you're a last minute planner. Accommodation sells out months in advance.

8) Budapest - Hungary

Best for: The adventurous

In addition to the usual decorations, Budapest's Christmas market contains a wide variety of genuine handmade products that have been vetted by a jury before they can appear. You'll also get to taste numerous regional delicacies and see traditional performances, dancing and choirs.

Don't go if... you want a traditional Christmas complete with comfort foods.

9) Padstow - Cornwall, UK

Best for: Eating and drinking by the sea

Padstow does have plenty of arts and crafts stalls in the harbour where this Christmas market takes place, but make no mistake: this one's for the foodies. Artisanal producers sell every kind of delicacy, from chilli and cheese to flapjacks and macaroons. There are also chef demonstrations from the likes of Rick Stein and Mark Hix.

Don't go if... you're not okay with a wet Christmas.

10) Zurich - Switzerland

Best for: Atmosphere

Christmas markets in Zurich have a special atmosphere that other great places can't quite reproduce. The beauty of the old town, the smell of cookies and gluhwein, and the charming market stalls all contribute to a magical and thoroughly merry Christmas. Not forgetting the giant Swarovski tree of course!

Don't go if... your nickname at Christmas is 'Scrooge'.

Looking to party in the heart of central London amid the sights, sounds and smells of a traditional Christmas market?

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