If you aren’t up for the commitment of a family ski holiday this year but you want some frosty, Christmassy enchantment come winter, you’re in luck. Wintery magic without ski-slopes is all over Europe and several of the prettiest and chilliest places have low-cost direct flights from the UK too. So instead of packing snowsuits and snowboards, pack enough for a weekend, grab the kids and go see what the snow’s like without lift passes and queues.
One look at Bruges and it’s easy to see why UNESCO just decided to make the entire city World Heritage. This is where location scouts head when they want medieval cobbled streets, ancient canals, 15th century Flemish houses and a bell tower so pretty it justifies Europe’s only full-time bell ringer. But Bruges isn’t just lovely, it’s fun for kids too. Visit Choco-Story, the chocolate museum where you make your own pralines. If that isn’t quite sweet enough, go see the chocolate art at the historic Christmas Market. Or window shop the pretty squares where chocolatiers don’t know the meaning of the word restraint in the lead up to December 25th. Walk off all that sugar around great galleries like Historium and Groeningemuseum. Or wrap up warm, follow the canals and stroll through the atmospheric 13th century Begijnhof – only Amsterdam’s is lovelier.