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The traditional Christmas markets throughout Europe offer a festive and lively backdrop for the holiday season that one must experience at least once in a lifetime. Rich in history, the markets are fairy tale-esque and cultivate joy and good holiday cheer amidst old-world charm and history.

Here are the top 3 Christmas markets in Europe you’ll want to add to your list:

1. Strasbourg, FranceBlog_Markets11
November 27 – December 31, 2015

Located on the border of Germany and home to the Gothic cathedral – Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg – the city of Strasbourg is home to the oldest Christmas market dating back to 1570. The market, Christkindelsmärik, was chosen as the “Best Christmas Market in Europe” two years in a row by European Best Destinations. This winter wonderland is actually the largest in Europe, offering 300 booths over 12 areas within the city. From Christmas concerts to children’s activities, you’ll find a circus and the traditional merry-go-round, as well as Alsatian-craft decor and savor “bridal,” the traditional Alsatian Christmas biscuit.

2. Cologne, German
November 23, 2015 – December 23, 2015

With seven markets in the city of Cologne, Christmas cheer is never lacking. The Alter Markt in front of the Ole Town Hall is the most impressive with a picture perfect background, thanks to the stunning architecture and the largest Christmas tree in Germany. Enjoy 160 booths of traditional wooden decorations and foods, like golden potato pancakes (kartoffelpuffer) served with applesauce, gingerbread (lebkuchen) and more.

Children will be delighted with the merry-go-round, puppet theatre and the legend of the famous Heinzelmännchen, the gnomes who created the Christmas splendor at this very place.

blog_markets213. Brussels, Belgium
November 27 – January 3, 2016

Home to the finest chocolatiers, waffles and moule frites to warm you up during the holiday season, Brussels is the ideal stop for the gourmand traveler.

The “Winter Wonders” that Brussels is known for is a hugely popular event every Christmas wherein a 21-meter tall Christmas tree will be placed on Grand Palace, where you can enjoy a beautiful sound and light show every evening at 6pm. The modern lights actually move to the music, making the buildings of yore come alive in the dark.

With ice skating, wooden stalls selling artisan crafts and gastronomic feast opportunities, the Brussels market is a “must” when traveling through Europe on Holiday.

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Curated from Forbes.com Lifestyle