Did you know there are only 68 sleeps until Christmas? The holidays are coming, whether we like it or not.
You don't need to traipse over to Europe to find a festive (ish) Christmas market: they're all over the UK too.
Here's our pick of the best.
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market makes the niche claim of being the biggest German Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria. It sits alongside the city’s Christmas Craft Market, making it virtually impossible to emerge from this seasonal shopping bonanza empty-handed. Leather goods, toiletries and wooden ornaments are just a small selection of the potential gifts on offer at more than 180 stalls. There's lots of food and drink too, including traditional German items such as pretzels, schnitzels, bratwurst and Weissbeer. Live music adds to the atmosphere, plus there's always the option to go for a skate at Centenary Square’s ice rink. The market is open daily from 15 November to 23 December in Victoria Square.
The medieval city of York, with its ancient walls, 13th century gothic minster and cosy pubs, is a great place to get into the festive spirit. St Nicholas’ Christmas Fair, a free event taking place at a number of locations in the city centre, runs from 15 November to 23 December. It includes traditional Alpine chalets selling a range of Christmas goods and food, a funfair complete with traditional helter skelter, a Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village offering locally made gifts and crafts, and festive food and drink at the Yorkshire Barn. This year, there's a Santa’s grotto, open between 1-23 December. Make a weekend of it by booking to see York Theatre Royal’s Christmas pantomime, regarded as one of the best in the country.
Bath was voted the UK’s favourite Christmas market in 2017 by the National Outdoor Events Association and it's not hard to see why. Every year, its Georgian streets are filled with over 180 Alpine chalets selling everything from clothing and jewellery to festive wares and food. This year’s market takes place from 22 November to 9 December.
Thanks to A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens will forever be associated with the festive season. It's why Portsmouth's historic dockyard is being transformed into a Victorian street for the Christmas season: there are snow-covered cobbles, a Christmas market and an interactive cast of Dickens’ most famous characters. Visitors can enjoy a festive tipple at Fagin’s Tavern or the Gin and Prosecco Parlour; browse over 100 Christmas stalls; or take part in a literary quiz to test their knowledge of Dickens’ work.
The Dickens Christmas Festival takes place from 30 November to 2 December.
In addition to its two usual Christmas markets – the George Square Christmas Market and St Enoch Square Christmas Market – Glasgow has a whole host of independent Christmas gift fairs and craft markets throughout the city during the festive season. These include the Riverside Christmas Fair at the Riverside Museum, with traditional fairground rides and a Santa’s grotto aboard the Tall Ship; the 3D/2D Christmas Art and Design Fair at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (1-2 December), which aims to promote home-grown talent; and a Christmas special of Super Market, a vintage and flea market based at Argyle Street Arches.
Want some history with your Christmas shopping? Head to the 14th century stately home of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. This country estate will host a Christmas Market with over 100 market stalls offering a range of Christmas gifts, plus festive music to get into the seasonal spirit. The house itself will be decorated for the Christmas period.
Foodies looking for locally sourced culinary treats will be well served at Padstow’s Christmas market. In addition to a range of arts and crafts producers selling art, ceramics and accessories, the market places a heavy emphasis on food and drink producers selling fudge, figgy puddings, cheese and beer. The Cornish town also plays host to a Santa Fun Run and Cycle on 8 December in aid of Cornwall Hospice Care; a timely reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. The market runs from 6-9 December.
While the capital is spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmas festivities – Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and Winterville in Clapham, to name just two – the Christmas festival on London’s South Bank is a lovely way to foster some seasonal good cheer. In addition to handmade gifts and festive food from around the world, the South Bank Centre is also hosting a plethora of festive events, such as a snow ball, Christmas carols and a Caribbean Christmas party.
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