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From Europe’s most popular Christmas markets to a festival of light in China, here are our top picks for year-end breaks

Text: Team Indulge

 

Antwerp

Once famous as a diamond-cutting hub, the city of Antwerp in northern Belgium, on the River Scheldt, shines with its medieval streets and ancient palaces during Christmas. The Christmas Market at Grote Markt (sic) features festive stalls offering speciality food and drink, apart from nativity scenes set against the backdrop of Antwerp’s historic buildings. The Antwerp Christmas Market is an important part of the city’s Winter in Antwerp programme, with nearly 100 stalls hosting fledgling designers and charities alongside traders of traditional wares and gifts. Get around an iceskating rink, play miniature golf in a fire forest, plant a kiss on your loved one under a giant mistletoe, and enjoy a sweeping view of the city from a giant Ferris wheel. The Groenplaats area is adorned with lights — a sight you’re encouraged to take in with a glass of Glühwein (mulled wine).Until 8 January, 2017. Details: visitantwerpen.be

Macao1

The Macao Light Festival — Treasure of Light will introduce innovative projections and new interactive elements this year. The celebrations revolve around a quest for the Treasure of Light, inviting visitors to embark on an adventure looking for the seven lost Energy Gems of Mazu, symbolising Hope, Perseverance, Health, Happiness, Harvest, Bravery and Faithfulness. By collecting these gems, visitors can awaken treasures from the sea and enjoy a virtual reality tour. Video Mapping segments will illustrate historical stories about Macao, while the interactive light installations will include 360 LED glow balls at Nam Van Lake Nautical Centre (projected on a cascade of water). At the Lantern of Wishes, visitors can ride a glowing seesaw to set off projections of blessing lanterns. One can step into the Fountain of Light and collect gems flying down from the fountain. Daily, 7 pm to 10 pm. Until December 31. Download the app Treasure of Light (Free on App Store and Google Play (Free, on App Store or Google Play). Details: en.macaotourism. gov.mo

 

Beverly Hills3

From November to January, Beverly Hills in California’s Los Angeles County transforms for the holiday season. Store fronts and hotel lobbies become must-see attractions as they update their décor to reflect the spirit of the season. Santa at The Paley & The Jolly Trolley is a popular attraction, with Santa and Mrs. Claus visiting the city each weekend leading up to Christmas. Guests get to join Santa at The Paley Center for Media for delicious treats and a screening of favourite holiday television specials. For an added treat, Mrs Claus greets visitors on the corner of Rodeo Drive & Dayton Way for a tour of historic sites and landmarks. At the Greystone Mansion, carolers have been performing for over 25 years, singing in a cappella quartets. Guests can also enjoy a buffet lunch with a little bubbly cheer. At the CIRCA 55, The Beverly Hilton, Chef Troy Thompson prepares a scrumptious Christmas spread, while Scarpetta at the Montage offers a buffet including live music and traditional treats. Details: lovebeverlyhills.com

Brussels

In Belgium, Christmas is celebrated twice: once on St Nicholas’ Day (December 6) and again on Christmas Day. On St Nicholas’ 2day, children receive toys, chocolates and candy, while the Belgian capital lights up for celebrations on the big day. The Grand Place and the Place St Catherine come alive with an array of stalls, and it’s an excellent introduction to the short-break Christmas market concept. There are great chips, waffles and beer too. The Brussels Christmas Market delights locals and visitors alike, as the displays lend to the magic, with numerous live animations and illuminations creating a unique atmosphere. Shops remain open all weekend over a period of five weeks, as Belgians enjoy getting into the festive spirit with lots of shopping, parties and gatherings. Exhibitors from all over Europe set up their wooden chalets selling all manner of gastronomic specialities, handicrafts and stocking- fillers. There’s also a giant wheel, 55 metres high, from which you can admire the city’s spectacles. Until 1 January, 2017. Details: visitbelgium.com

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