The most wonderful time of the year is swiftly barrelling towards us like a snowball down an Alpine mountain, and there’s nothing quite like an enchanting Christmas market to shake off those winter blues and indulge in some festive fun. Just picture it: strains of carols drift through the cold air as you enjoy a fragrant sip of mulled wine, surrounded by twinkling lights, and peruse wooden artisan chalets stuffed with handmade goodies and delicious treats - does it get merrier than this?
Bath Christmas Market
Bath, England (28 November - 15 December 2019)
Take to the picturesque Georgian streets of Bath and soak up the festive spirit, as you wander through the village of wooden chalets, all gathered at the foot of the stunning Bath Abbey. As winter cloaks the country, this historic city shines with festoons of twinkling lights and you'll feel warm from your head to your toes as the excitement of Christmas fills the air.
This traditional market's chalets are occupied by local artisan businesses, artists and craftspeople, who bring with them a wonderful selection of perfect gifts to leave your loved ones beneath the tree. Find contemporary homeware, aromatherapy, delicate hand-blown glass and even something special for your fluffy four-legged friend! Feel your heart grow three sizes knowing you’ll be supporting hard-working independent vendors this Christmas. There are plenty of indulgences to nibble on during your wanderings: sweet-smelling treats will hit your nose as you mosey round, and steaming cups of mulled wine will keep your tummy warm and your nose glowing. Plus, juicy hog roasts and caramelised nuts are just some of the scrumptious snacks you’ll be rushing to whip your gloves off for!
Head to Bond Street’s entertainment stage if you fancy a sing-song - an assortment of choirs and local bands will be providing merry music to accompany your visit throughout the week. If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, why not visit Bath on Ice and Glow-in-the-dark Mini-golf at Royal Victoria Park - just a five-minute walk from the market - where there’s fun for all the family.
If you thrive in a bustling environment, then hit the market at the weekend and join in the lively action, but if crowds aren’t your cup of tea (or glühwein), a weekday visit is recommended, to give you a chance to browse this historic city at your own pace.
Bath Christmas Market runs from 28 November - 15 December and is open:
Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 10am - 7pm
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays: 10am - 8pm
Sundays: 10am - 6pm
Leeds Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market
Leeds, England (8 November - 22 December 2019)
Visit Millennium Square for a slice of Germany in the heart of Yorkshire and enjoy Leeds’ annual Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market. This winter village is filled with things to do and see, with an assortment of wintry stalls, bars and eateries packed onto the cobbles, sure to leave you with a lingering feel of Christmas magic.
Popular attraction, Alp Chalet, is returning to provide a snuggly hideaway for visitors to eat, drink and be merry. Or, why not warm your hands in front of a roaring open fire at the twinkling Kuh Stall, or get an après-ski experience in the Ski Hutte; a bespoke wooden bar that’s the perfect spot for sinking an Aperol Spritz (or two!) and chatting with friends. If you’ve got little ones in tow, why not delight them with a special Santa’s Breakfast on weekend mornings at Alp Chalet, where they can tuck into a festive buffet and meet Santa himself and his little helpers. They’ll even get a present from the man with the bag himself!
Or, perhaps enjoy a spin on the ever-glorious Victorian carousel, that's a bundle of great fun for young and old alike. Jolly family entertainment in the square runs daily to keep the whole family rockin’ around the Christmas tree, and a weekly show is hosted on the market stage. Children can enjoy games, songs, face painting and even balloon modelling, plus, expect to see special appearances from Winter Wonderland Princesses and other Christmas characters!
If you’re not worn out from all the fun, get all of your Christmas shopping done by browsing the wooden chalets and scooping up a lovingly-crafted gift - there are plenty to choose from, and you have a whole three weeks to visit the market this year.
Leeds Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market runs from 8 November - 22 December and is open:
Monday - Saturday: 10:30am - 9:30pm
Sundays: 10:30am - 7:30pm
Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market
Birmingham, England (7 November - 23 December 2019)
Held in Victoria Square, this Bavarian extravaganza hits the streets of Birmingham as early as mid-November. Expect traditional German grub at every turn, with bratwursts, schnitzels and flagons of foaming weissbier waiting for you. It’s the biggest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria - enjoying the spotlight for several years now - and it’s only getting bigger.
An abundance of gorgeous gifts are on display across the 80 stalls in place this year; leather goods, glass baubles, jewellery and toys are just a snippet of what you can get your hands on. This is a great chance to buy something extra-thoughtful, with a handmade touch you just won’t find in big stores. There’s plenty to keep you occupied, with fabulous live music for the whole family stationed in Victoria Square, plus The Christmas Craft Market is right next door. The square’s bandstand has a full programme of entertainment, from a Michael Bublé tribute, to a brass band, a soul singer and a theatre workshop for the children.
So gather your family and friends, wrap up warm and enjoy this authentic market that’s open seven days a week! It’s a busy time for the city, so why not consider a weekend break and immerse yourself in the festivities?
Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market runs from 7 November - 23 December and is open seven days a week, from 10am - 9pm.
Cardiff Christmas Market
Cardiff, Wales (14 November - 23 December 2019)
Join Cardiff’s city-wide celebrations this year, as a whole host of festive events kick off around the city this Christmas. The traditional market is back and ready for you to explore, and this pop-up wonderland has pulled out all the stops to bring you a unique visitor attraction to rival its European counterparts. The market stretches itself out across the city - bringing with it a tangible sense of wonder - so bundle up and take a stroll down St John Street, Working Street, Hills Street, Trinity Street and the Hayes to admire the swathe of sumptuously trimmed stalls that are bursting with an eclectic mix of gifts and edible delicacies.
There's a rolling programme of over 200 vendors attending this wintry affair, so you can visit the market again and again this Christmastime and find something new with each visit! With them, they bring all manner of delights, with a real pride from organisers - Craft*Folk - on the quality, original handmade gifts that their vendors offer. Expect categories such as 'Lotions, potions and aromatics'; 'Metalwork'; 'Ceramics'; 'Children'; 'Honey & all things bee related' and so much more.
Cardiff’s very own Winter Wonderland is just round the corner, with breathtaking fairground rides, an ice rink, plus brand-new attraction, the Alpine Ice Trail, that lets you whizz all around the perimeter of the event on your skates! You'll also find a charming Santa's Grotto (we hope you've been good this year!) and the sumptuous 'Christmas at the Castle' event within Cardiff Castle, where you can enjoy traditional Yuletide costumes, greetings from characters and a very special visitor at the end of the Candy Cane Trail.
Cardiff Christmas Market runs from 14 November - 23 December and is open:
Monday- Saturday: 10am - 6pm
Sundays: 10am - 5pm
Edinburgh Christmas Market
Edinburgh, Scotland (16 November 2019 - 4 January 2020)
The idyllic streets of Edinburgh get an injection of dazzling Yuletide wonder at this time of year, transforming into a twinkling Alpine retreat, nestled in the leafy East Princes Street Gardens. Embrace the warm, fuzzy atmosphere and soak up the city's culture. The market is set against a panoramic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill, affording gorgeous scenes as you amble amongst the lanes. And, if you're feeling really brave, the Forth 1 Big Wheel offers soaring views across the city and the Christmas Tree Maze, so you can breathe in the atmosphere from above.
Local choirs and youth groups are scheduled to fill the night air with song and there's plenty of stop-offs to get yourself out of the cold. Mouth-watering delicacies are available for avid foodies and if you fancy a warming tipple, stalls are offering hand-crafted liquors and spirits. The popular Johnnie Walker Bothy Bar is back, with a chance to nurse a fiery dram or Hot Apple Toddy in a decorated log cabin.
The market is open over the Christmas period and runs into early January, so there's plenty of time to embrace the festivities. Have you considered a trip away this Christmas? Edinburgh might be the perfect UK getaway that's not too far from home, but still a gorgeous city break interspersed with culture, merriment and a dash of romance.
Edinburgh Christmas Market runs from 16 November - 4 January.
Opening times: TBC
There are bustling Christmas markets taking place up and down the country - here are a few other festive spots to consider this Christmastime:
When: 21 November 2019 - 5 January 2020
Manchester Christmas Markets
When: 8 November 2019 - 21 December 2020
George Square Christmas Market
When: November 24 2019 - 29 December 2019
Oxford Christmas Market
When: 5 - 21 December 2019
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