The sweet, heady aroma of mulled wine combined with the sizzling scent of bratwurst sausages drifted across the piazza with the colourful displays in the wooden stands showing brighter as the twilight darkened.

Lights were everywhere. A funfair merry-go-round, a big screen display and in the background some whirling, spinning serious rides. All to the soundtrack of a brilliant saxophone busker.

So if you are looking for some Christmas spirit in the run up to the big day – go West.

Plymouth is geared up for the festivities with a neat blend of modern city shopping, historic experiences, classy restaurants and that Christmas market centrepiece.

The market runs until Sunday December 18 with 50 log cabin stands featuring craft gifts, food and drink. The rest of the Devon city’s Christmas attractions carry on until Christmas Eve.

The Christmas Land Train ferries shoppers between the Drake Centre stores and the smaller, independent shops of the West End. In between is the market and amusements in the Armada Way piazza and gardens.

Driver Graham and conductor Jenny gave us a tour in the train extending the route into the historic Barbican.

This area is an essential part of the Plymouth Christmas mix. The Pilgrim Fathers allegedly left for America from the Mayflower Steps. A list naming those who boarded The Mayflower is displayed on the wall of the cocktail bar of the Blackfriars Distillery producers of Plymouth Gin.

The occupations of those pilgrims probably explains why they had such a tough time establishing their New England colony. There were plenty of merchants or tailors no mention of farmers or gardeners.

Amid shopping and visiting Plymouth’s many historic attractions we also sampled some of the city’s eating options.