It’s that time of year again when just before the big day arrives, a variety of Christmas Markets spring up across the UK to help get us into that festive spirit. Not sure if you’ve been on coach holidays to a Christmas Market before but they are perfect locations to find that elusive present for that someone you know who has everything. You can also find some unusual handmade gifts and tempting festive food fayre to help make your Christmas Day an extra special one this year. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of the most popular UK Christmas Markets and have cherry-picked a few for you below….
London’s Winter Wonderland (18 Nov 2011 – 3 Jan 2012)
Celebrating its 5th year, the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park in London has even more treats in store for visitors in 2011. This year, there is a new ice rink surrounding the Victorian Bandstand and at night there will be 108,000 pea-lights illuminating the ice hopefully creating a magical experience for the skaters. In addition to the ice rink, there will be the iconic observation wheel, a thrilling new rollercoaster ride and Santa Land so that the kids can visit him in his Grotto (free admission). ‘Zippos Cirque Extreme’ is a brand new world-class circus where the finest artistes from across the globe merge into a single breath-taking one-hour show – make sure you don’t miss this. There are new Lapland-style rides, traditional carousels, traditional hog roast and for a full helping of Bavaria, visit the Bavarian Village where you’ll find bratwurst, beer and plenty of live bands. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the amazing new Carousel Bar that rotates gently whilst you sip your mulled wine!
Bath Christmas Market (24 Nov-11 Dec 2011)
This is quite simply one of the biggest Christmas Markets in the South West where for 18 days of the year, the streets and square between the Abbey and Roman Baths, will be home to the Bath Christmas Market. There will be more than 130 wooden chalets to explore with each one offering unique, handmade and unusual gifts, xmas decorations and delicious food items to tempt those taste-buds this festive time. To add to the atmosphere, the sound of carols from the Abbey will be drifting through the Market and there is a varied entertainment programme to keep the whole family amused including free drop-in Art Workshops, a lantern procession, performances by local choirs, orchestras and bands, street buskers and not forgetting appearances by the Snow Queen and Elf!
York St Nicholas Fayre (24 Nov – 27 Nov 2011)
You won’t regret visiting the St Nicholas Fayre as it is one of the most popular events in the city of York’s calendar. The whole city comes alive with Victorian costumed traders, carol singers and the delicious smells of roasted chestnuts and hot chocolate laced with brandy fill the air! The fair offers a range of markets specialising in gifts, crafts and the very best of local farm produce. The outside Christmas Markets can be found in Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square and Coppergate. Barley Hall is home to a special medieval market with live crafting, mulled wine and costumed traders all adding to the wonderful atmosphere.
Dickens Christmas Market at Rochester Castle (30 Nov – 18 Dec 2011)
Billed as being one of the biggest Christmas Markets ever to be seen in the South East, you surely won’t want to miss out on this one especially as its free to enter! The celebrations start on 30 Nov 2011 when the legendary American rapper Vanilla Ice does the ‘Big Christmas Lights Switch-on’ followed by a magical Lantern Procession from Rochester High Street to the gardens at Rochester Castle where the Dickens Christmas Market is located. The castle walls are illuminated in traditional Christmas colours, trees filled with twinkling fairy lights and the smell of roasted chestnuts, Bratwurst and gluhwein fills the air. Street entertainers and Dickensian characters will mingle with the revellers whilst Christmas carols welcome visitors to the market. There is an array of German-style huts selling a range of Christmas gifts, hand-crafted foods and festive fayre to include Currywurst, waffles, crepes, Dutch pancakes and hot ciders (don’t know about you but our mouths are watering at the very thought)! New for 2011 is Santa’s Grotto where Mr and Mrs Claus will be setting up their temporary home to meet children everyday (except Mondays and Tuesdays) – just make sure you book your place to avoid disappointment!
Lincoln Christmas Market (1 Dec – 4 Dec 2011)
Did you know that the Lincoln Christmas Market was one of the UK’s first German-style traditional market with just 11 stalls? Since then, the market has grown to feature over 250 stalls nestled in the Medieval Square and surrounding area. As you stroll along the cobbles you come across traditional stalls selling all manner of gifts, handicrafts and tempting festive treats. Get into the festive spirit with a cup of mulled wine or pop into the Food Court for a cuppa to keep warm. It has been known to take almost an hour or two to fully explore all the wonderful stalls and enjoy the entertainment on offer so make sure you allow plenty of time for your visit to the Lincoln Christmas Market – let’s hope that the snow doesn’t affect proceedings as it did last year!
Have you been to any of the Christmas Markets shown above? What were the best bits? Are there any Christmas Markets you would recommend we visit? Do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!