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Cruising the German Christmas markets

I love Christmas and all the shenanigans that go with it!

I love gift buying for family, cooking annual recipes (including my own made-up Christmas mince with all the things I like and none of the things I hate). I love the music, the smell of Christmas lilies and the decorations, and while I do love that Christmas is hot and summery down here in New Zealand, there is something truly magical about spending the festive season in the chill of Europe.

Rhine river
Rug up warm and see Europe in winter!

On my Bucket List is this cruise which takes in some of the world famous German Christmas markets.

I can think of nothing that would make my eyes dance more than living on board this luxury Luftner Cruises river boat for a week with five-star dining and plenty of mulled wine to peruse the sights and take in the sounds and smells of these wonderful markets.

Basel Christmas market
The Basel Christmas market at Barfüsserplatz. Pic Basel Tourism

The markets open in late November and most close a couple of days before Christmas, so you can go early and stock up on Santa’s gifts to bring home or if being away from family at Christmas is high on your priority list, then this will be just the ticket!

Here is a sample itinerary for late November/early December 2015 on Luftner Cruises for seven days  tootling down the Rhine from Cologne visiting Koblenz, Speyer, Mainz, Strasbourg, which I have declared is the prettiest city in Europe, and returning to Cologne.

Basel Christmas markets
The Basel Christmas market at Barfüsserplatz. Pic Dominik Pluess

These cities are known for their markets, some of the biggest in the world and some of the smallest.

Cologne is the home of seven Christmas markets, each one different. They feature jolly St Nicks, angels and elves, hand made crafts, unique gifts and traditional Christmas fare.

In Koblenz you’ll find more than 100 wooden stalls selling a huge range of arts, crafts and decorations. Enjoy mulled wine and Christmas cake as you browse.

In Speyer the market is combined with those from nearby towns in front of the Old Mint in Maximilianstrasse and in the marquees and town hall courtyard you can watch the artists at work.

Then hop back on board for dinner and another fabulous night of luxury, experiencing Europe at its most magical.

Early morning in the Rhine
Early morning in the Rhine. Pic Andreas Gerth

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!