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Opinions on Visiting Budapest, Vienna, Prague Over Christmas

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Looking to visit these cities for the first time over Christmas for 8 to 10 days. We have flexibility on when to leave (can leave as early as 12/20). Considering this trip over Christmas as we thought it would be a unique experience during the holiday and a chance to experience the Christmas markets. In looking at the various sites, it looks like the Christmas markets in Budapest are open until 12/30/12, and the markets in Prague are open until 01/06/13. Vienna's markets close 12/23/12, so I've concluded we won't be able to see their markets. I would appreciate help on the following:

1. Does it matter if we start in Prague and finish with Budapest (or vice versa) ignoring airfare differences? Since the markets in Prague close later, my thought is to end w Prague. Good/bad?
2. Is the experience of the Christmas markets different before or after 12/24? Do the markets fizzle after 12/24 even if they stay open until 12/30 or 01/06?
3. Should we delay the start of the trip to 12/24 (flying from the US we'd arrive 12/25 if we depart 12/24) to avoid a lack of stores/tours/restaurants open on 12/24 or 12/25? If not, which is the best city to be in on 12/24 and 12/25 for activity?

Thank you in advance for your help!

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