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Where to Find the World’s Best Christmas Markets

One of the best things about Christmas is the markets. Who could resist the sweet smells of cinnamon, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, or looking around the traditional-style stalls in a bid to find that perfect gift? Whilst we do have some great Christmas markets in the UK, the best ones can arguably be found abroad.

We take a look at some of the world's best Christmas markets.

New York, USA

The Winter Village at Bryant Park in New York is an absolute must-visit. If you can't find your family's Christmas presents in The Big Apple, you won't find them anywhere! There are more than 125 boutique stalls at the Winter Village, selling everything from clothes and jewellery, to decorations and local foods. Artisans from around the world come to sell their wares here every year, and it's clear this market takes inspiration from the traditional European open-air ones.

Once you're all shopped out, why not go ice skating? At the centre of the park lies a huge rink which is free to use, provided you have your own skates. If you don't, you can rent some. The market runs until 3 January, giving you plenty of time to do your shopping, whilst the rink will remain open until 6 March.

Dresden, Germany

You can't get a more authentic Christmas market experience than visiting Germany's oldest. Dating back to 1434 and traditionally called Striezelmarkt, the Dresden Christmas Market is located in Altmarkt Square in the city's historical centre.

Gift-wise, you'll find plenty of hand-made crafts, ranging from Christmas pyramids and smoking figures, to blown glass tree decorations and pottery. You can even see how your gifts are made by watching the artisans blow, bake and carve all the goods on sale. We doubt you'll miss them, but the world's tallest Christmas pyramid and the world's biggest nut cracker must be seen too.

The market ends at 2pm on Christmas Eve, so you know where to go if you've forgotten to secure that final gift!

Brussels, Belgium

With 2.5 kilometres of wooden chalets, the Brussels Christmas market, which is part of the Plaisirs d'hiver (Winter Wonders) event, is huge. There is always a variety of gifts to buy, but if you're a foodie, we recommend you head to the chalets on the Place Saint-Catherine. Here, you'll find a range of gourmet treats including artisan hot wine, salmon baked on the embers, Italian delicacies, Belgium waffles and much more.

The best time to visit the market is at night, where the area comes to life thanks to a wonderful light and sound show, which is repeated every half an hour between 5pm and 10pm. There's also an ice rink to skate on and several fairground rides to enjoy.

Brussels' Winter Wonders doesn't end until 3 January, so start planning your trip now!

Copenhagen, Denmark

Tivoli Gardens is one of the oldest amusements parks in the world and millions of people visit the attraction every year. Its Christmas event is particularly popular and boasts market stalls, illuminations, light shows and more.

The Christmas market has more than 60 stalls, selling the typical fare: food, sweets, hot drinks, festive decorations, knitted products, leather items and other crafts. Make sure you stay for the light shows and the illuminations over the lake - the younger members of your party will find it magical. It's not quite Disney, but Tivoli Gardens is pretty close.

Christmas isn't over at Tivoli until 3 January.

Tampere, Finland

The larger Christmas markets tend to get very busy, so if crowds aren't your thing, you may want to go to one of the smaller events. Tampere is an old but picturesque city in central southern Finland, and whilst its Christmas market might not be as big as others, there's still plenty to see, do and buy.

More than 60 vendors come to the event each year, with some even hailing from nearby Germany. You'll have the chance to buy traditional Finnish crafts at the stalls, as well as try GlÓ§ggi - the Finnish version of mulled wine. Plus, there are ice sculptures and live performances the whole family will enjoy.

If you want to go, you'd better book your holiday fast - Tampere's Christmas market ends on 22 December.

Zurich, Switzerland

You're spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmas markets in Zurich - the city has seven! We couldn't choose just one, as they all have their own unique charm about them, but if you don't have time to see them all, there are two in particular we recommend. The first being located in Zurich's main train station. It's worth going simply to see the 50ft tall Christmas tree covered in 7,000 Swarovski crystals. However, it's also the biggest covered Christmas market in Europe with more than 150 stalls.

Prefer a more traditional market? Head to the stunning Wiederdorf quarter for the city's oldest. You'll be able to smell the mulled wine and cinnamon from miles away. Expect to pick up all sorts from Zurich's market, including candles, gingerbread, textiles, jewellery and even organic jams.

Shanghai, China

This is perhaps the strangest addition to our list, as Christmas tends to be a much bigger deal in Europe and American than in Asia. The Shanghai Christmas market premiered in 2014 with a German-themed event. This year, Xuhui Binjiang will turn into a medieval Christmas town - there will be a wooden hut village, vendors dressed in medieval costume and knights practicing their archery.

If you really want to get into the swing of things, you can rent your own medieval costume to wear whilst you shop for gifts, crafts and delicious food and drink. You can pick up a bow and arrow and give the archery a go too.

The Christmas town will stick around until 27 December - make sure you don't miss it, as the market will likely take on a different look next year.

There are so many wonderful Christmas markets taking place around the world this year, it would be impossible to name them all! Whilst the most traditional ones can be found in Europe, you may want to travel further afield one year to see how the rest of the world does Christmas. Wherever you go, have a magical time, and don't forget to arrange the right travel insurance.

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