Santa’s playground in Bucharest
Snow-capped trees and stalls full of handicrafts, gingerbread and rzaniec (hot mulled beer) – Romania’s capital ticks every Christmas market box. The showstopper for kids is Santa Claus Kingdom. Rudolph and his gang are a star attraction at this huge indoor adventure land, which also has skiing, tobogganing, circus shows and choir concerts. For a relaxing spot, minutes from the Old Town, book Rembrandt Hotel.
Treasure hunting in Wroclaw
Wroclaw (pronounced ‘frot-slav’) is a classic Christmas market with kid-friendly twists. You’ll like its traditional stalls, they’ll love their dedicated carnival space, complete with mini merry-go-rounds and rollercoasters. You can easily turn the trip into a treasure hunt – there are over 160 mini bronze gnomes hidden all over the city. There’s even an app to help. After a successful hunt, rest up at the friendly Scandic Wroclaw.
Thrilling ice sports in Brussels
If your toddler is looking to perfect their triple axel, then head to Brussels Winter Wonders. Its huge ice rink has a dedicated zone for tiny skaters. The best rink-side spectator seat is high up on the glittering ferris wheel. Next, conquer the slides at Oceade, Belgium’s biggest indoor waterpark. Getting there is easy, the under 12s travel for free on Brussels’ metro, tram and bus network. If they have energy left, there’s a kids’ indoor play zone at the Hotel Novotel Brussels Off Grand Place.
Snowy swimming in Stuttgart
Stuttgart Christmas market is festive fun for any age. Children will be all smiles thanks to puppet shows, an ice rink, ferris wheel and a dinky, toddler-sized train. Grateful parents can fuel up on roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and mugs of mulled wine. Stuttgart is also known for its mineral baths. Das Leuze has a kids’ area with slides, fountains and floats, and they’ll love swimming in the hot outdoor pool as snow falls all around. Getting there is easy from Motel One Stuttgart-Hauptbahnhof, which is opposite the train station.
Meet Rudolph in Gothenburg
Five million fairy lights, The Nutcracker on ice and Scandinavia’s biggest amusement park – the Christmas market at Liseberg is made for kids. They can meet the main man at Santa’s World and even take a reindeer sled ride. Stroll along the Lane of Lights, a magical 3km stretch of illuminations, working up an appetite for a slice of homemade cake at Gothenburg’s oldest hotel, Hotel Royal.