SouthWest Germany (the state of Baden- Württemberg) is one of Europe’s most romantic destinations: think Black Forest and Heidelberg, Lake Constance and fairy tale castles. With medieval and Baroque palaces and houses providing the backdrop for dozens of beautifully-decorated wooden stalls, SouthWest Germany is full of romantic Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) to explore. We start in Karlsruhe, the northernmost city and the gate to the Black Forest. The Christmas markets here fan out from the city centre, much like the street layout. There are many different options to choose from, the biggest of which is the main market on Friedrichsplatz. Here, magical lighting displays create a festive atmosphere and the Glühweinwäldchen (mulled wine grove) adds a rosy tint to your cheeks. Keep one eye on the sky, too, as Santa often swoops across on his sleigh. Elsewhere, you can skate on the largest open-air ice rink in southern Germany (Schlossplatz), head back in time at the Medieval market (Karlsburg Castle, Durlach) and keep the kids busy at Kinderland St. Stephan. As with many other German Christmas markets, it’s the setting that really creates that festive atmosphere in Baden-Baden. In the shadow of mountains and forests, the iconic Lichtentaler Allee (one of the country’s prettiest streets) leads you to a wide range of stalls that stretch all the way to the Kurhaus. There’ll be plenty of characters there to help you celebrate, including the Christmas Angel kicking things off, daily live music and entertainment plus a living nativity.Meanwhile, Freiburg’s Christmas market surrounds the striking münster. More than 130 huts, many of which focus on traditional hand-made crafts, mean there is plenty to see. Jewellery makers, gemstone cutters and other sellers are more than happy to show off their trades and there’s even a chance for you to get hands-on with some candle making, baking and glass blowing. While the adults indulge in some well-deserved mulled wine (red or white), the little ones can take a spin on the wooden Ferris wheel.