Christmas markets at many places around the world have opened their doors to mark the festivities of the period of advent. These traditional street markets add to the Christmas fervor with lots of entertainment on offer.
Nativity Scenes, mangers, Christmas figurines and ice skating are some of the popular attractions at Christmas markets. Various items on sale at the stalls include Christmas décor, Christmas tree ornaments, handmade chocolates, toys and the like. Hot wines are a specialty at the markets.
Christmas markets attract millions of tourists every year. Looking for the best market to visit in 2011?
Here are the top ten Christmas markets listed by online travel adviser Cheapflights (cheapflights.com).
1. Strasbourg, France
Held annually near Strasbourg Cathedral, the traditional Christkindelsmaerik (Christ Child market) in Strasbourg is known as the oldest French Christmas market.
The market was first held in 1570.
Christmas decorations, Nativity figurines, candies and chocolates fill the stalls while traditional delights like mulled wine and foie gras are special offerings. The Strasbourg Christmas market runs until Dec. 31.
2. Quebec City, Canada
The Christmas market of Quebec City is just four years old but offers a unique experience of White Christmas with snow.
Raisin-studded gingerbread, pretzels, roast chestnuts and Santa-shaped chocolates are the traditional delicacies at Quebec City's Christmas market.
The city's neighborhoods are decked with lights throughout the holiday season.
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen Christmas markets in Denmark are held annually at the capital's famous amusement park, Tivoli Gardens.
Tivoli opened Christmas markets for the 18th time in November 2011 and is based on Russian theme, featuring a replica of St. Basil's Cathedral. The new Russian theme is to contribute to a renewal of Christmas in Tivoli and ensure an increase in the number of visitors during November and December.
Christmas in Tivoli had almost 800,000 visitors last year. The Christmas markets at Tivoli run till Dec. 30.
4. Chicago, Illinois, United States
Christmas market in Chicago, called the Christkindlmarket, is inspired by Germany's Nuremberg's ancient market.
The event is being held at Daley Plaza since 1996 and is a popular winter attraction where Christmas festivities get in full vigor with traditional delicacies like sausages, sauerkraut and potato pancakes, gluehwein and German beers on offer.
Chicago's Christkindlmarket runs until Dec. 24.
5. Dublin, Ireland
The Docklands Christmas Market 2011 in Dublin runs until Dec. 24.
Traditional delights like roasting nuts, mulled wine, eggnog and sizzling bratwurst fill your appetite while concerts and carols are the perfect entertainers to add to the spirit of Christmas.
6. Dresden, Germany
The traditional Striezelmarkt Christmas market in the eastern German city of Dresden is one of Germany's oldest documented Christmas markets, first mentioned in 1434.
Over the centuries, it has developed into a huge event on Dresden's Altmarkt square that lasts throughout the Advent period.
The market features world's biggest nut cracker and tallest Christmas tower.
Handicrafts from Germany's various cities are on sale at Dresden Christmas market. It runs until Dec. 24.
7. Vienna, Austria
Vienna's Christkindlmarkt on Rathausplatz is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe featuring traditional decorations, hand-crafted gifts and regional delicacies.
The market runs until Dec. 24.
8. Prague, Czech Republic
Illumination of a giant Christmas tree at the Old Town Square in Prague marks the opening of Christmas market.
Well-decorated stalls sell region's specialities, including Bohemian crystal, Czech marionettes and traditional delicacies like braided pastries, gingerbread and svaree vino (sweet mulled wine).
The market runs until Jan. 8.
9. Brussels, Belgium
Held at the Grand-Place of Brussels, the Christmas market - Plaisirs d'Hiver (Winter Wonder) - features a skating rink, chalets, fairground rides, a huge Christmas tree and various gastronomic treats, including the famous Belgian waffles.
Stalls sell Christmas ornaments and Belgian handicraft items such as Begian lace and tapestries.
The market runs until Jan. 1.
10. Nuremberg, Germany
The first official record of Nuremberg Christmas market dates back to 1628.
It is one of the best known markets in Germany. Every year, Germany's traditional markets, such as the centuries-old Christkindlesmarkt in medieval Nuremberg, draw millions of visitors, both local and foreign.
They open before the first Sunday of Advent and usually continue until Dec. 24.