Last year while on business in Brussels sometime in mid December, we went to a Christmas market just to enjoy the evening and drink the obligatory hot wine mulled with spices (Gluehwein). The Brussels Christmas market is rather a small one, where you can simply enjoy the evening. It fits well into the Northern European tradition that originates in Middle Ages. But of course it cannot compare to biggest Christmas markets organised traditionally in Germany.
The biggest Christmas market I ever visited it was that of Nuremberg in Germany (indeed one of the biggest in Europe). For my German colleagues it was not only a place to spend the evening but above all a place to acquire regional specialties from all over Germany available there in multiple varieties. Often it was produce you cannot simply buy round the corner.
In Germany, Austria, Switzerland and and Northern France the tradition of Christmas markets dates back to XIV-XV century. They are organised in the Advent time, which is four weeks time before Christmas. The biggest German markets attract yearly 2-4 million people each being the major tourist attraction in Christmas season.
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