Ghent, Belgium
With an ice-skating rink, an enormous ferris wheel and a pretty Christmas market (7 December-6 January), Ghent provides no scarcity of alternatives to get into the Christmas spirit. However past the baubles and twinkly lights, there’s loads to maintain winter guests to this Flemish metropolis pleased, from looking the bric-a-brac stalls of the Bij Sint-Jacobs flea market to hanging out with the hipsters on the Holy Meals Market, a cocktail bar and meals corridor within the stunning 17th century Baudelo Chapel.1898 The Publish is a comfy and cosseting boutique resort in a former put up workplace constructing. Doubles from £160 (zannierhotels.com)
Zagreb, Croatia

Strolling in a winter wonderland, Zrinjevac Park in Zagreb, Croatia. {Photograph}: Alamy Inventory Picture
The Croatian capital takes the build-up to Christmas significantly, with elaborate avenue decorations, outside concert events and a conventional Christmas market which is usually voted among the finest in Europe. Many of the motion is centred on Ban Josip Jelačić Sq. and European Sq., which have market stalls and stay music, and Zrinjevac Park the place the bushes are hung with lanterns and wood huts serve mulled wine and štrukli (heat pastries full of comfortable cheese). However if you wish to keep away from the festive clamour, merely duck down one of many metropolis’s facet streets to discover a vary of classic shops, vinyl document retailers and quirky one-offs similar to Što čitaš/Sapunoteka (Gundulićeva ul. 11), a secondhand bookshop-cum-natural cosmetics retailer promoting merchandise handmade from Adriatic olive oil and herbs. Or head east to Zagreb’s burgeoning design district of Martićeva, the place studios and pop-up retailers in former industrial areas showcase the work of native artists and designers.Lodge President Pantovcak has mild, spacious bedrooms overlooking gardens. Doubles from £78 (president-zagreb.com). For extra info see adventzagreb.com
Turin, Italy

Buon Natale: Christmas lights in Turin. {Photograph}: Getty Pictures
Turin brightens up the darkish nights of winter with the Luci d’Artista, a collection of latest mild installations designed by native and worldwide artists . If Christmas buying is on the agenda, the town has one thing for all budgets, from the classic and secondhand bargains of the Balon flea market (Saturdays) to the designer labels on the elegant By way of Roma. For a present that’s uniquely Torinese, head to the ever-popular Juventus merchandise retailer on By way of Garibaldi, or to Venchi, for mouth-watering candies from certainly one of Turin’s most honored manufacturers. Heat up with a bicerin – the native concoction of espresso, scorching chocolate and milk – in one of many metropolis’s many Belle Epoque cafés.Piazza Vittorio Suites are sensible, modern flats in a 19th-century constructing on a ravishing sq.. From £60 an evening (torinosuites.com)
Helsinki, Finland

Fairytale festivities: Tuomaan Markkinat – Helsinki’s Christmas Market – has design presents, conventional meals and a sauna. {Photograph}: Go to Helsinki
Helsinki have to be the one metropolis on the earth with a Christmas market that comes with its personal sauna (1-22 December. However with winter temperatures barely nudging zero, the free blast of warmth provides welcome respite from the Baltic chill. Helsinki is Europe’s unofficial design capital, so you may count on a superior stage of merchandise from the Christmas stalls dotted round Senate Sq.: himmeli ornaments (geometric mobiles made from straw), pine and birch tar candles, carved wood kuksa mugs and modern jewelry. The meals market on the Outdated Market Corridor is a superb place to choose up Lappish delicacies, seasonal berries and jams. No journey to Helsinki, come rain, shine or snow, could be full with out a go to to the Allas Sea Pool. Its advanced of outside swimming pools (two of that are heated) and saunas is open year-round.Lodge F6 is a pleasant boutique resort a brief stroll from the Market Sq.. Doubles from £220 (hotelf6.fi)
Malaga, Spain

Avenue of sunshine: Calle Larios at Christmas, within the centre of Malaga. {Photograph}: Getty Pictures
Northern Europe doesn’t have a monopoly on festive cheer, so if you wish to mix Christmas buying with winter solar, head to Malaga. Begin your day in true malagueño fashion with churros and chocolate on the Casa Aranda (Calle Herreria del Rey) earlier than diving into the Atarazanas meals marketplace for edible souvenirs similar to Andalucian cane honey, goat’s cheese and further virgin olive oil. Within the afternoon, take your decide of the town’s cultural venues – the Picasso Museum, Pompidou Centre, the Malaga Museum or the Russian Museum. Then head to Calle Marqués de Larios, the primary buying drag, at nightfall when the Christmas lights are switched on: the spectacle attracts guests from throughout Spain.Room Mate Larios is a daring design resort with a full of life bar and an amazing location proper on Calle Marqués de Larios. Doubles from £78 (room-matehotels.com)
Le Touquet, France

Christmas cabins: Le Touquet Paris-Plage Christmas Market. {Photograph}: Alamy Inventory Picture
The seaside is probably not the primary place that springs to thoughts when planning a festive escape, however Le Touquet actually is aware of the way to placed on the Christmas sparkle. From 30 November, the bushes lining the promenade and avenues of this stylish resort are festooned with fairy lights, and there’s a Christmas carousel, a skating rink and horse-drawn carriage rides. The pedestrianised Rue St Jean is lined with chi-chi boutiques promoting every thing from artisan candies (Au Chat Bleu has the most effective) to jewelry. Le Touquet is simply an hour’s drive from Calais, so convey your automobile and be part of the locals stocking up on cheese and charcuterie on the marché couvert (Thursdays and Saturdays) and wines on the glorious Le Touquet-Vins, simply exterior the city.Lodge Bristol is a pleasant, trendy resort with good-value rooms. Doubles from £85, (hotelbristol-letouquet.com). For extra info, see letouquet.com
Colmar, France

Illuminating concepts: Christmas Little Venice in Colmar, Alsace. {Photograph}: Getty Pictures
With its wonky, half-timbered homes and slender lanes, Colmar appears just like the form of place you may see on the entrance of a Christmas card. This canal-side city within the coronary heart of Alsace has a well-liked Christmas market which takes over the outdated city (till 30 December. There’s a wood carousel and animated nativity scene, stalls promoting Alsatian specialities similar to freshly baked pretzels and berawecka (spiced buns flavoured with fruit and nuts), and a craft and antiques market within the medieval Koifhus (customs home). If all of it will get an excessive amount of, take a second to ponder the true which means of Christmas in entrance of the Isenheim Altarpiece, a Gothic masterpiece depicting the Redemption of Christ, on show within the chapel of the Musée Unterlinden.James Boutique Lodge is a up to date bolthole a two-minute stroll from the outdated city. Doubles from £99 (james-hotel.com)
Lecce, Italy

Observe the star: Christmas tree in Sant’Oronzo Sq., Lecce. {Photograph}: Getty Pictures
The gorgeous city of Lecce, sitting on the heel of Italy’s boot, is at its most interesting in winter, when the vacationer crowds skinny out, the Baroque cathedrals and piazzas are superbly lit and craft gala’s and markets pop up in sudden corners. Don’t miss the Fiera dei Pupi (puppet truthful), held each December on the Ex Convento dei Teatini, a former monastery the place you may admire nativity scenes painstakingly crafted from papier-mâché. Good buys embody ceramic and terracotta homewares, and gourmand treats similar to almond-stuffed figs and fennel-flavoured taralli biscuits. Southern Italy’s cucina povera comes into its personal in winter with rabbit stews, roast lamb, chestnuts and the crimson wines of Salento that includes closely on menus. If you happen to’re visiting within the week earlier than Christmas or the primary week of January, look out for the residing nativity scenes (presepe vivente) which this area is known for.Risorgimento Resort, subsequent to the city’s Roman amphitheatre, is Lecce’s most luxurious retreat. Doubles from £130 per night time, with Important Italy (essentialitaly.co.uk)
Wrocław, Poland

Deck the bushes: Wroclaw’s outdated city sparkles in December. {Photograph}: Alamy Inventory Picture
Wrocław’s outdated city sparkles in winter, with big Christmas bushes, illuminated fountains and a Christmas market promoting presents, mulled wine and oscypek (grilled sheep’s cheese, with cranberry sauce). Get a hen’s-eye view of the Christmas lights from the remark deck on the high of the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, or take a look at the programme of carol concert events and festive recitals on the Nationwide Discussion board of Music, Wrocław’s world-class new music venue. The town is nice worth when you’re trying to purchase some last-minute presents. Good buys embody vibrant hand-painted pottery from the city of Bolesławiec, west of Wrocław, on sale at Vena (Rynek 4) and movie and propaganda posters from the Polish Poster Gallery (ul. Św. Mikołaja 54/55. Lodge Puro has glossy, trendy rooms. Doubles from £50 (purohotel.pl)
Aarhus, Denmark

Golden city: Christmas market in Aarhus, Jutland, Denmark. {Photograph}: Getty Pictures
Copenhagen grabs all of the limelight, however Denmark’s second metropolis, Aarhus, can maintain its personal in the case of buying, tradition, consuming out and the compulsory dose of hygge. Head to the Latin Quarter for unbiased boutiques, cosy cafés and a captivating Christmas market. Store for Scandi homeware and vogue on Strøget, the town’s most important buying avenue, earlier than heading to the rooftop of the historic Salling Division retailer (Søndergade 27), for a glass of mulled wine with panoramic views of the town, lit up for Christmas. And if that doesn’t get you within the festive temper, the enormous Christmas tree – the most important in Denmark – carol singers and Danish meals market on the Tivoli Friheden amusement park absolutely will. Lodge Scandic The Mayor has easy however trendy rooms within the metropolis centre from £115 (scandichotels.com)
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