What smells do you associate with Christmas? Pine trees, minces pies, mulled wine, bratwurst?
Every year, thousands of us flock to Christmas markets - known as Christkindlmarkt - in the UK and in Europe. With a wide variety of exotic food, drink and hand-made gifts available, these markets help to add a continental feel to Christmas. It's Christmas market season, but not just in Germany, for continental markets have been a growing industry in the UK over the last century.
These markets offer a change from the hustle-and-bustle of the busy high street, giving shoppers the opportunity to break away from the busy shopping and sample some warming food and drink from our European neighbours.
The first Christmas market was held in Dresden in 1434, and each year draws between 1.5 and 2 million visitors to over 60 stalls. With a range of cheap flights now available to European destinations - markets in cities such as Nuremburg, Stuttgart and Strasborg have become popular spots for Christmas shoppers.
Cities in the UK, such as Birmingham and Lincoln, now have a yearly Christmas market which helps attract tourism to the area. But with low-cost airlines now offering affordable flights to many European destinations, thousands of tourists and shoppers alike are electing to make the trip across to the continent - to shop and to sample. But there are also a number of these markets that take place across the pond - with US cities such as Chicago and Baltimore holding their own Christkindlmarkt each year.
With more of us taking advantage of cheap flights to the US and a good dollar rate in order to prepare for the holiday season, these markets offer the chance to warm themselves with mulled wine, fresh waffles and other treats, as well as the chance to pick up a few trinkets along the way.
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