I was fortunate to take a Danube Viking River Cruise before 2020 and have great memories of the experience, especially the Christmas markets in towns along the river.
I just read where Christmas markets, filled with treasure, great food, mulled wine, and the ever-important souvenir mugs, are also all over the United Kingdom.
Manchester, England, for example, offers several markets in the city. This year's main event is in Piccadilly Gardens. Known as the UK's only Christmas Capital, Manchester offers holiday festivities throughout November and December, ending January 3.
Piccadilly Gardens' market has yuletide bars offering locally brewed ales, food stalls, craft sellers, and live music and DJs throughout the festive season. Food favorites are Dutch Frites, Greek gyros, warm cookie dough puddings with signature cocktails, and local ales.
Covid-19 is central to planning this year's event and will be controlled in this area with one-way routes and separate entrances and exits, helping people remain socially distanced.
In addition to the primary market, there are six city center squares, offering culinary delights and a host of craft sellers.
Hand-pulled pizzas arrives in St Ann's Square for the first time, along with the Lakeland Burger company, Northern Quarter's Yard and Coop fried chicken, and salt and pepper fries.
At Exchange Square, the favorite is Pork Pig's Yorkshire Pudding wraps alongside the Mill Exchange bar. Tikka Kebab kitchen brings the heat with their curries and spiced shawarma kebabs. Along with gourmet pizza and local produce sellers, gift sellers are happy to be back in the buzz of the city.
King Street Market is returning with a host of French-themed stalls with gallic food, beers, and wines, plus a warming gin bar with over 100 varieties. An Italian deli with a selection to beat any restaurant on any high street.
On New Cathedral Street, high-end shoemakers, local vegan skincare products, and jewelry are offered.
Market Street offers some fantastic options for that Christmas list on a slightly smaller scale than previous years to make sure people can keep their distance should they want to.
Cathedral Gardens returns as a family-friendly area with Skate Manchester's ice rink and a range of food and drinks stalls. Plus, entertainment every week from Thursday through to Sunday, including kids shows.
And of course, Manchester's Giant Santa takes pride of place in the city center, along with a trail of light sculptures taking visitors on an illuminated trip around the city.
Other cities hosting the annual events include Birmingham, York, Chester, Winchester, Hyde Park, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland, Cardiff, Wales, and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
If the UK is on your holiday travel list, make sure to visit one of the many Christmas markets. You'll experience the holiday spirit and have a fantastic time!