With hundreds of Christmas Market destinations popping up across Europe, you'll be spoilt for choice if you're planning a festive shopping spree on the Continent this winter. We asked around the Rail Europe office and compiled a list of some of our favourites. Read on to find out which destinations made our list... and if your favourite isn't featured, why not leave us a comment and share your own festive market experiences?
* Find out more in our Lille Christmas Market Guide *
5) Lille, France
19 November - 30 December 2011
The popularity of Lille's Christmas Market hangs on it being a quick and easy Eurostar journey away, making it ideal for a day trip from the UK. In 1 hour and 20 minutes you can be in the heart of Lille's Christmas Market action. With just over 80 stalls it's one of the smaller Christmas Markets, but you can still immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit, ride the Ferris wheel and stuff yourself full of festive goodies.
Return travel from London to Lille starts from £69
* Find out more in our Brussels Christmas Market Guide *
4) Brussels, Belgium
25 November 2011 - 1 January 2012
Every winter in Brussels, from the Grand'Place to Place
Ste-Catherine you will find hundreds of festive stalls offering handcrafted toys, warming mugs of mulled wine, and moules mariniere by the bucket. The Brussels annual Winter Wonders festival features an outdoor ice rink and huge Ferris wheel. With a Eurostar journey from London to Brussels taking just under 2 hours, you could always just visit for the day.
Return travel from London to Brussels starts from £69
* Find out more in our Strasbourg Christmas Market Guide *
3) Strasbourg & Colmar, France
26 November - 31 December 2011
Strasbourg is the oldest Christmas Market in France, dating back to the 16th century. It is also one of the largest; with captivating stalls selling handicrafts, mulled wine, traditional bridle cakes and other delights in the medieval square beneath the city's imposing Gothic cathedral. Why not combine a visit to Strasbourg with a day trip to Colmar where you will be able to see charming timbered houses and winding, narrow lanes.
Return travel from London to Strasbourg starts from £99
Return travel from Strasbourg to Colmar starts from £20
* Find out more in our Vienna Christmas Market Guide *
2) Vienna, Austria
19 November - 26 December 2011
Running for more than 25 years, Vienna's Magic of Advent is a festive extravaganza. You'll be spoilt for choice with the sheer variety of stalls available. The children's handicraft workshops, ponyrides and Christkindl Express make it one of the most child-friendly Christmas Markets in Europe. Its equally exciting for adults with incredible food stalls and a fantastic atmosphere.
Return travel from London to Vienna starts from £213
* Find out more in our Cologne Christmas Market Guide *
1) Cologne, Germany
21 November - 23 December 2011
The beautiful Christmas Markets of Cologne are within easy walking distance of each other making them some of the most accessible. With hundreds of stalls all offering different products, you will be able to find almost anything, for anyone, at these markets. With the impressive Gothic Cologne cathedral as its backdrop, the market's setting is as equally impressive as its atmosphere.
Return travel from London to Cologne starts from £104