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Nothing says the festive season has arrived quite like the return of the Christmas markets.
Come November, Europe is littered with sparkly, cosy, cinnamon-laced festive markets turning in piazzas, squares and cobbled streets across the old continent into Christmas Wonderlands.
While seasonal goodwill and merriment are fuelled by mulled wine they are also a great place to try the local food and festive specialities.
From the 'Capital of Christmas,' Strasbourg, to Nuremberg's famous sausages pick a market for a weekend break and get your bit of Christmas cheer in a winter wonderland.
Here's our pick of the Christmas markets where the food and drink are a destination.
For full immersion head to Vienna where Christmas-markets scatter the city in a tradition that dates back some 600 years. An impressive spread of food stalls boast a strong regional selection of foods including Erdäpfelpuffer, Rösti, gingerbread, or traditionally roasted hot chestnuts which can be enjoyed with a mug of mandatory mulled wine.
When: 12 November to 26 December, 2017
Get into the holiday spirit in the home town of chocolate at the christmas markets located in the historical Market Square of picture-perfect Bruges. Jenever gin, hot chocolate pancakes and delicious snacks are all on the seasonal menu.
When: 24 November to 5 January 2018
Budapest Christmas Market
With around 150 stalls housed in small wooden huts this is an authentic Christmas market for picking up christmas gifts just as much as serious eating. Traditional food and entertainment take centre stage and there's plenty of outdoor seating to eat and drink in comfort from any number of the numerous food stands.
A huge selection of freshly cooked local delicacies including everything from grilled Hungarian sausages to goose stuffed cabbage and goulash and much more.
Feast on cinnamon-pastry chimney cakes (kurtoskalacs) and toki pompos, a Hungarian-style pizza topped with bacon, onion and cream. Be sure to sip a glass of Hungarian sparkling wine in Varosliget café, overlooking the ice rink.
When November 10, 2017 – Jan 31, 2018
Web Budapest Christmas Market
An easy 90 minutes from London on the Eurostar make this French market an ever popular gourmet destination come the build up to Christmas. Mulled wine (Vin chaud), nougat and pommes d’amour are just a few of the treats that will have you going gaga over christmas.
When: 17 November to 27 December, 2017
Strasbourg Christmas Market
Photo: F. Badias / Cus
Known as the 'Capital of Christmas' it's a badge the city wears with pride. Hundreds of chalets spread over several sites in the city centre, make Strasbourg's Christmas market one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Not only will you find traditional arts and crafts and typical Alsatian Christmas decorations but plenty of food.
Don't miss the special “bredele” biscuits that come in all shapes, sizes and flavours. From hazelnut, orange and cinnamon to walnut, coconut and praline, try a selection, perfect to hang on the tree at home then devour.
When 24 November to 30 December 2017
Web Strasbourg Christmas Market
Bid your friends a “Buon Natale” at the seasonal markets in Bologna, the city synonymous with good food. Take your pick of seasonal Italian delicacies and indulge your sweet tooth with marzipan fruit, citrus peel dipped in dark chocolate, torrone and much more, this is one fair where you most definitely won't go hungry.
When 20 November 2017 to 6 January 2018
Trento Christmas Market
This South Tyrolean market held at the foot of the Dolomites Piazza Fiera attracts around 500,000 visitors every year. Of the hundred wooden huts selling traditional artisanal goods a good number are dedicated to showcasing the edible specialities of Trentino, known as the "Flavours of the Christmas Market".
Taste apple strudel, "treccia mochèna" (plaited pastry cake), "polenta brustolada" (grilled polenta), traditional recipes (sweet and savoury) from the Trentino and the Tyrol regions and local dishes such as "tortel di patate" (potato cake), "goulash zuppe" (goulash soup), "canederli" (dumplings). Try washing them down with popular drinks including the "vin brulè"(mulled wine) of Trentino and "parampampoli" (hot toddy)
It's also a good chance to stock up on high-quality local foods like organic cheese and goat cheese, "speck" (smoked ham)as well as sweets, pastries and hot chocolate.
When 18 November 2017 to 6 January 2018
Web Trento Christmas Market
Nuremberg Christmas Market (Christkindelmarkt)
Nuremberg's Christmas Market, held in the Main Market Square is billed as one of Germany's oldest Christmas fairs dating back to the mid 16th century. Not only is it a great place to pick up some traditional souvenirs and enjoy local specialities but also to try its prized local speciality, the “Rostbratwurst” sausage - they can even be bought in cans as a souvenir if you can't bear to live without them.
If you have a sweet tooth don't miss out on the city's special take on the famous gingerbread biscuit, the glazed lebkuchen, known as Nuremberg Elisenlebkuchen. As well as the individual market stalls you'll also find specialised shops selling them in festive musical wind up tins.
When 1 to 24 December 2017
Web Nuremberg Christmas Market