Upcoming: Christmas Markets
Amy Watkins goes in search of seasonal gifts and Glühwein
Winter is already breathing an icy blast down our necks – but I’m getting ready for the heady smell of Glühwein and the sizzle of sausages, as cities across Europe open their Christmas markets.
Festive markets are my favourite part of the season; sipping on a mug of
steaming hot chocolate with a dash of brandy to keep warm as I explore the craft stalls; picking up a glinting bauble or finally finding that perfect present.
My hometown of Bath has one of the UK’s prettiest Christmas markets, opening in late November. Springing up in a tangle of fairy lights, the market takes up residence between the imposing Abbey and the historic Roman Baths. There’s not much room at my house, so for a quintessentially English experience of this Georgian city, I’d far sooner stay at Homewood Park Hotel & Spa, just ten minutes away.
You can’t beat Edinburgh when it comes to throwing a good party, and the city’s German-style Christmas market twinkles below the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. I like to get my skates on at the ice-rink and then put my feet up at the Bonham - a trendy Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh’s West End.
For me Christmas means excessive chocolate consumption, and where better for any chocoholic than Belgium? Bruges comes alive at Christmas time and in-between nibbling on truffles, I love browsing the Christmas market among the historic gabled buildings of the main square. The candlelit shops and little wooden chalets are full of festive spirit and the vintage waterfront Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce makes an ideal home away from home in this medieval town.
Vienna is queen of the Christmas Markets, with 11 going on between November and Christmas, creating a citywide smell of gingerbread and roasting chestnuts. From the touristy market at the Rathausplatz to the traditional crafts sold in Spittelberg, Freyung and Resselpark, Vienna’s Christmas markets are world-class. Stay at the refreshingly cool The Ring boutique hotel for your Christmas shopping jaunt to Vienna.
No Christmas market list would be complete without Prague – just the place for a wintery romantic weekend break. The huge tree-dominated Old Town Square market in Prague shimmers with stalls selling traditional Czech food, pretty trinkets and novel stocking fillers. You can stay at the very 21st century (and shamelessly chic) Buddha Bar Hotel, complete with resident DJ. Just the place for yet more Christmas treats!