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Festive shopping should be all about fun and enjoying time with friends and loved ones. Whether searching for gift ideas, tasting specialities of the season or simply soaking up the atmosphere, Christmas markets are a highlight of the activities on offer at this time of year.

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Date: 15/11/2016

Festive Christmas markets that can easily be reached by train

While Europe's Christmas markets are rightly celebrated, the UK also offers some great markets that are easily accessible without having to go near an airport. Thanks to the Eurostar, there is also a selection of Christmas markets just across the channel. These are easily reached by a relaxing train journey.

London

The capital, of course, offers a range of Christmas markets. The Southbank Centre Christmas Market is a traditional favourite, with its crafts and treats housed in wooden chalets. For festive with a capital F, head to Hyde Park and its Winter Wonderland, which offers all the fun of the seasonal market in conjunction with an ice rink, an observation wheel and even circus performances.

Edinburgh

This scenic Scottish city is host to a number of fairs and markets. There is a European-style Christmas market to enjoy, along with a Scottish market for wonderful local drinks and food. This closes on Christmas Eve.

Bath 

The town in which the fashionable used to take to the waters is home to a bumper Christmas market that features some 170 booths lining the atmospheric thoroughfares winding around the Abbey and the Roman Baths. Much of the merchandise is sourced locally or made in the local area. The range of items on sale includes clothes, ceramics, glassware and toys, and there will be a wide variety of tempting snacks and drinks. Other activities on offer at the same time encompass crazy golf that glows in the dark and ice skating; in addition, the baths are always worth visiting.

Lille 

As Christmas approaches, the Normandy town of Lille is transformed with colourful lights and decorations. The market is based around Place Rihour, where more than 80 festive wooden chalets are grouped for an atmospheric shopping experience. There are loads of gift ideas and crafts from a number of countries, including Russia, and local gourmet delicacies to sample, all washed down with hot and delicious mulled wine. This Christmas market is popular with the British public, as it has all the exoticism of being in a different country with minimal, easy travel. Just hop on the Eurostar and you can be in Lille in less than an hour and a half after a comfortable train ride. If taking children, there is also a Ferris Wheel they will probably enjoy on the main square and a picturesque 18-metre Christmas tree.

Brussels 

The Christmas markets in Belgium's capital have a reputation for being original. They are concentrated in four main areas: Bourse, Marché aux Poissons, Place Sainte-Catherine and, of course, the magnificent Grand Place. Attractions for the visitor include an ice rink at the Marché aux Poissons, merry-go-rounds in the Place Sainte-Catherine, and stunning illuminations at the Grand Place. The venues are all quite close to each other and families can wander between them, stocking up on gifts and tasting delicacies.

Paris 

The City of Lights, of course, celebrates Christmas in style with a range of festive markets. The largest is the market at La Defense, otherwise known as L'Arche de Noel de la Defense, which offers an enormous variety of crafts and seasonal items at more than 350 charming wooden chalets. There is also a market - or Village de Noel - on the Champs-Elysees, with more than 30 crafts showcased with workshops. Venturing to the Left Bank, there is another Christmas market at the Place Saint-Sulpice. Here you will find log cabins featuring all kinds of gourmet treats and a wide range of crafts.

While Europe's Christmas markets are rightly celebrated, the UK also offers some great markets that are easily accessible without having to go near an airport. Thanks to the Eurostar, there is also a selection of Christmas markets just across the channel. These are easily reached by a relaxing train journey.


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