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Berlin: Gendarmenmarkt

You can barely turn a corner in Berlin in December without finding yourself smack-bang in the middle of a Christmas market – the town is full of ‘em.

There are over 50 on this year, including the WeihnachtsZauber at Gendarmenmarkt, which is one of the biggest.

Held between November 26 and December 31, this is as much a contemporary Crimbo show as a market, with firebreathers, jugglers, jazz musicians and dancers performing in the square.

See: The craftsmen tent, where you can watch toymakers, goldsmiths and wood carvers at work. If only they were wearing Santa’s elf costumes...

Eat: Germany is home to some of the best Christmas edibles, and you’ll find them all here, including lebkuchen (soft, cinnamon-flavoured biscuits) and stollen (festive fruit cake).

Buy: How about a traditional Christmas pyramid, a bizarre wooden contraption that uses heat from tealights to rotate
a windmill – it’s one of many creative handicrafts for sale.

Copenhagen: Tivoli Gardens

Easily the most wacky of the European batch, from the annual Crazy Christmas Cabaret, which is to be Hitchcock-themed this year, to the swarms of girls dressed as nisse (Danish Christmas pixie).

Last year there was a mini Moscow built for visitors to explore, which included an homage to Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

Organisers are keeping this year’s amusements under wraps for now, but have promised that the Russian theme will continue this year.

The market runs from November 16 to December 30.

See: The installation of 500,000 twinkling fairy lights.

Eat: Apple pancakes and mulled wine are the perfect combo.

Buy: Hand-knitted mittens, socks and hats, and knitted jumpers, just like those made famous by Denmark’s fave detective, The Killing’s Sofie Gråbøl.

Bored of Christmas conventions? Can’t bear to see another bauble?  Visit one of these festive celebrations with a difference.

Pervy xmas in hamburg

What: Sleazy santas, handcuffs lined in festive fur and slinky stockings (as opposed to the hang-above-the-fireplace variety) are all on offer at the Christmas market in Hamburg’s Reeperbahn red light district – it calls itself the world’s only sexy festive market.

Located on Spielbudenplatz, the salacious Santa Pauli Christmas Market is staffed with scantily clad ladies selling mulled wine to the punters.

: Runs November 22-December 23.

Feng shui in Gladbach

What: Lots of people feel highly strung around Christmas time, what with all the present-buying stresses. But not the happy chaps in west Germany’s Bergisch Gladbach.

There’s not a hint of bad energy at their Christmas market, because it’s all done Feng Shui style.

Stalls are arranged in accordance with ancient Feng Shui principles of grouping elements together: stalls selling wooden knick-knacks or paper decorations are sold together in the wood area, while you’ll find the roasted chestnuts or freshly baked goods in the fire section. Now that’s Christmas harmony.

When: Runs December 14-16.

Sunshine in Barcelona

What: Ever fancied strolling around a Christmas market in warm weather? Head to Barcelona, where bright sunshine beats down on the ‘Fira de Santa Llúcia’.

Visit for the festive parades and handcrafted Catalan decorations. This market is also famous for selling the ‘figures de pessebre.’

Grab shepherds, camels and baby Jesus, and less conventional images, such as the guy taking a dump.

: Runs November 26-December 22.

Photos: Getty, Thinkstock


Europe's biggest and best Christmas markets: The perfect travel destination for a festive holiday
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