'Tis the season to be shopping and if you're feeling festive, Europe's Christmas markets are the places to be. From handmade stocking fillers to heart-warming mulled wine, the seasonal street markets offer music, goodies and the perfect atmosphere for Christmas lovers.
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The concept started in Germany as early as the Middle Ages, when traders gathered to sell their goods before the bleak midwinter set in, but these days most of the western world embraces them with warmth and passion.
France, Switzerland and Germany are all popular places to visit for a Christmas market mini-break, when the towns and cities burst into festive song and fairy lights.
So what's all the fuss about? Christmas markets, or Christkindlmarkts, are all about celebrating everything traditional. Think gingerbread and stollen, bratwurst and candied fruit, as well as plenty of local arts and crafts. While they provide a haven for shoppers, many people go simply to soak up the festive ambiance: the little ones can meet Santa and the whole family can enjoy the Christmas carols.