You might think that Christmas is a million miles away, but if you want enjoy a little hot wine and pre-Xmas cheer, now's the time to book your trip.
Give your Christmas shopping a twist by travelling to one of Europe's finest, most festive and traditional markets.
From foodie heaven in Berlin and traditional arts and crafts in Cologne, to festive cheer nearer to home in the historical town of Bath, Huffpost UK Lifestyle picks out the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Cologne has a total of eight Christmas markets around the city, attracting upwards of two million visitors every December. The most spectacular and popular of these is the market 'Am Dom', set on the square in front of the towering twin spires of the cathedral, the most visited monument in Germany. The backdrop is a lofty Gothic structure and a vast Christmas tree surrounded by 160 stalls offering Yuletide wares, including Christmas tree decorations, arts and crafts, hand-made candles and ceramics. Sweet stalls jostle for space with Glühwein traders, and street musicians and professional bands entertain the hordes. <a href="http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/cologne_christmas_market.php" target="_hplink"><strong>Click here for more details...</strong></a>
The 'Christkindlmarkt' on the square in front of the magnificent Town Hall is Vienna's classic Christmas market. It is one of the best-known and most visited in Europe and it's certainly one of the oldest, dating back over seven hundred years, and starts early. The park surrounding the market is one of the highlights, with its trees decorated with themed lights, shaped like hearts or gingerbread men. The Vokshalle, within the Town Hall, is home to a daily workshop for kids in Viennawhere parents can drop them off to make presents and bake Christmas cookies. An added attraction is that throughout December choirs from around the world perform in the Festival Hall at weekends. <strong><a href="http://www.vienna4u.at/christmasmarket.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
The first mention of Dresden's Christmas market was in 1434, making this the oldest in Germany. It is steeped in tradition and locals are understandably fond of their Striezelmarkt, named after the local 'Striezel' or Stollen, a sweet fruitcake baked in the shape of a loaf and dusted with icing sugar. The highlight of the annual market is the Stollen Festival, held on the second Sunday in December. In the 16th century, the local Stollen bakers would present cakes to the local prince, carrying them ceremoniously through the town to the castle, where the prince would cut them with a five-foot knife and hand out pieces to the poor. The market consists of 250 stalls selling strictly traditional wares. <strong><a href="http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/dresden_christmas_market.php" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
Lille (northern France) is the place to dream and to do some Christmas shopping. The 83 wooden chalets of the Christmas market are open every day from 19 November to 30 December. They offer Christmas decorations and festive food, as well as arts and crafts. A Ferris Wheel turns on the main square, which is transformed into a winter wonderland, dominated by an 18-meter high Christmas tree. <strong><a href="http://www.christmasmarkets.com/France/lille-christmas-market.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
In a city famous for its cuisine, the Brussels Christmas market is definitely one for foodies. Alongside the ever flowing mulled wine are stands dishing out French olives, mountains of Belgian chocolates, steaming plates of moules or steamed snails, jars of preserved fruits and 'speculoos', hard gingerbread shaped like Father Christmas. The Fish Market is transformed into a temporary ice rink in December, making it a big attraction for locals. Carols are filtered through loudspeakers, and jugglers, street musicians and painters brave the cold to entertain the crowds. A gastronomic, festive affair. <strong><a href="http://www.christmasmarkets.com/Belgium/brussels-christmas-market.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
Just a short stroll from Bath Spa Station, in the centre of the city, you will find Bath Christmas Market - one of the largest festive events in the UK and certainly the most beautiful. For 18 days, more than 130 quaint wooden stalls line the squares and streets surrounding the impressive Bath Abbey, selling everything you could possibly need for your festive celebrations. Gift ideas abound, including clothing, accessories, crafts and toys as well as more unusual or one-off pieces of art and jewellery. Stock up on festive foods with cheeses, pickles and meats galore, and sample wines, liqueurs and local cider to compliment your choices. Ideally located in the heart of Bath's main shopping area, with well-loved high street brands and designer boutiques all around, you can't fail to find everything you are looking for. <strong><a href="http://www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
The focal point of Munich in December is famous Marienplatz, the heart of the old centre, flanked by the grand neo-gothic town hall and filled with hundreds of stalls in the run-up to Christmas. There are a number of smaller markets dotted around the city, but this is the largest and dates back to the 17th century. Over 140 stalls are set up in the square, selling hand-carved wooden Christmas decorations, glass baubles, jewellery, arts and crafts. <strong><a href="http://www.best-of-munich.com/marienplatz/marienplatz.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
The Czechs take Christmas seriously, and the capital hosts a number of cultural events, folk displays, concerts and theatre in December. However, the Vanocni trh (or Christmas markets) and the biggest is held on the busy Old Town Square. The idyllic Baroque setting of the cobbled square seems perfectly suited to a quaint seasonal market, helped along by the generous layer of snow that visitors should expect at this time of year. A central stage hosts daily carol singers and bands playing seasonal tunes. <strong><a href="http://www.pragueexperience.com/events/christmas_markets.asp" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
Attracting festive shoppers from all over the UK and beyond, the Manchester Christmas market is one of the most popular - and biggest - market in the UK. This year the market will be celebrating its 13th year and will take over eight different spaces around the city, each with it's own distinct character and atmosphere. The array of over 200 stalls sell delicious Dutch cheeses, French breads, and Spanish chorizo, as well as arts and crafts that make perfect, alternative gift ideas. <strong><a href="http://www.christmasmarkets.com/UK/manchester-christmas-market.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
There are several markets that take place around Berlin, but the most popular (and most visited) is the one that takes place around the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche. Clustered around the Gedächtniskirche (or Memorial Church) which was hit in a bomb attack in WWII, and left only partly restored as a poignant reminder to the war. The market isn't huge but you'll find an usual array of traditional arts, crafts and Christmas decorations. <strong><a href="http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/berlin_christmas_market.php" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
Europe's oldest amusement park, the Tivoli Gardens, hosts Copenhagen's annual Christmas market. The main lake is transformed into an outdoor ice skating rink, where visitors can hire skates. There are around 60 colourfully-painted stalls, selling locally produced arts, crafts and decorations. There are plenty of food stalls - the main draw here is glögg, Danish mulled wine mixed with liquor and spices. <strong><a href="http://www.tivoli.dk/composite-4983.htm" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
Strasbourg holds one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in France, with a wonderful setting in front of Strasbourg Cathedral. Strasbourg Cathedral, with its Gothic towers and famous astronomical clock, is worth a visit in itself. Strasbourg Christmas Market has over 300 chalets, and attracts over 2 million visitors during the Christmas season. A wonderful Christmas tree is to be found on Place Kléber and a skating rink on Place du Château. <strong><a href="http://www.debretts.com/social-season/strasbourg-christmas-market.aspx" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>
The Capital of the Cotswolds has been famous for its markets since Roman times and its Christmas market isn't an exception. From 30th November to 16th December 2012, the heart of Cirencester will be transformed by our Christmas Market; 35 beautifully adorned wooden chalets, each decorated with festive swags and white pea lights, between them selling a wide range of clothes, gifts and toys, together with festive food and drink. <strong><a href="http://www.christmasincirencester.org.uk/" target="_hplink">Click here for more details...</a></strong>