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Christmas Market at Southbank Centre

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One of the best ways to really get in the festive mood is to spend a few hours at a Christmas market, browsing the plethora of gifts on offer, enjoying a mug of steaming hot mulled wine, and watching your kids having fun on a merry-go-round - all to a backdrop of traditional Christmas music.

The German-style Christmas market that runs along the Thames between the Southbank Centre and the London Eye is back for another year and comprises around 60 wooden chalets housing vendors offering a vast array of festive goods.

Operating seven days a week right up until Christmas Eve, the free-to-enter market starts at eleven in the morning (ten on Fridays and Saturdays) and goes all the way through to eight in the evening (ten on Fridays and Saturdays).

The market provides an excellent opportunity to get some (if not all) of your Christmas shopping out of the way, with lots of unique items on offer, such as amber and silver jewellery, handmade toys, glass ornaments, candles, handmade ceramics and so on.

The centrepiece of this year's Christmas market is a merry-go-round, a surefire hit with any children visiting the venue.

And, of course, no Christmas market would be complete without German Bratwurst sausages sizzling away on the barbecue, so be secure in the knowledge that you'll find plenty of them here. Wash them down with a mug of tasty Glühwein, that deliciously spicy German mulled wine. Gingerbread hearts, roasted almonds, sweets and tasty crepes are some of the other seasonal specialities you'll be able to enjoy at the market.

One of the wonderful things about this particular Christmas market is its idyllic setting, right beside the Thames, with the pretty lights of the city skyline stretching in both directions. The Southbank Centre's Christmas market is best visited at night, though make sure you wrap up as the temperatures are really beginning to drop now. Merry Christmas!

Top image: Xmas Markets Ltd
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Why? There can be few better locations for a Christmas market than this one.
When: Now until 24th December, 2011.
Where: Between the Southbank Centre and the London Eye, along the Thames.
Cost: Free
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