Even the dead of winter can't dampen the spirits of Europe's greatest Christmas markets

Australia may have the best beaches, the best weather and the best seafood, but when it comes to Christmas, we've got to admit: the northern hemisphere shines. As anyone who's sipped mulled wine to a chorus of carols, nibbling on hot roast chestnuts and traipsing snow-dusted cobblestone streets will tell you, the European cities do Christmas exceptionally well (and not just because it's actually cold enough to eat pudding and turkey).

From row upon row of festive stalls spruiking mulled wine and spiced biscuits along Paris' Champs-Élysées to handcrafted decorations at the ancient Striezelmarkt in Dresden, Germany, which dates back as far as 1434, Christmas markets are a European institution. Add to that ice-skating rinks, knitted Christmas jumpers and weather that's actually cold enough for reindeer, Santa suits and mistletoe, and it's easy to see why the north has such a rich array of festive traditions. Dreaming of a White Christmas? Scroll the gallery above for some of the world's best December destinations. 

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