The Christmas markets are gearing up in Europe's northern cities, and Vienna's Christkindlmarkt is no exception. Following a tradition that started in 1294, when Emperor Albrecht II first gave permission for an Advent market, more than 140 stalls went up in front of the city hall last weekend and will ply a roaring trade in hot food and punch, gluhwein and Christmas gee-gaws from 9am to 9pm every day until they close at 5pm on Christmas Eve.
Kirker Holidays offers a weekend break from pound;334 per person at the four-star Alt Stadt boutique hotel, or from pound;478 per person at the four-star Hotel Sacher - home of Sachertorte, the granddaddy of chocolate cakes - opposite the State Opera House (Kirker will book tickets for the opera, the Vienna Boys' Choir or the Spanish Riding School). Prices are based on two sharing and include return flights from London Heathrow, two nights' accommodation with breakfast, return transfers by car and a copy of Kirker's restaurant and sightseeing guide. Details: 020 7231 3333; www.kirkerholidays.com. Information on Vienna's Christmas market: www.christkindlmarkt.at.