Over the festive period, hundreds of magical winter wonderlands crop up all over the UK, which we’ve narrowed down to the top ten
1. York, 27 November –21 December 2014
The annual York Christmas festivities entail far more than just a market. Billed as a ‘Yorkshire Winter Wonderland’, it comes with all the trimmings. Spanning several streets, each section has its own theme, from medieval to Dickensian and Georgian, featuring costumed traders, music, activities, and delectable edible treats.
2. Oxford, 11 – 21 December 2014
The famously scenic city of Oxford also offers its own lively Christmas affair. 40 charmingly decorated wooden stalls will set up shop along the iconic Broad Street, surrounded by historic architecture and the breathtaking Sheldonian Theatre building. Expect a wide selection of traditional treats and merry entertainment.
3. Belgravia, 7 December 2014
For one day only, London’s Belgravia is joining in the festivities by transforming Elizabeth Street and Pimlico Road into a Dickensian-style free Christmas market. While enjoying the inevitable mince pies and flowing mulled wine, guests will be treated to choral music and a brass quintet, workshops, and performers on stilts, while wandering the lines of wooden stalls selling various interesting handicrafts.
4. Edinburgh, 21 November 2014 – 4 January 2015
The romantic city-scape of Edinburgh is almost made for the yuletide season, when the castles, bitter cold, and Highland backdrops all come alive with festive cheer. And the free celebrations here last right through to Hogmanay, attractions including a carousel, the Big Wheel, an Elves’ Workshop and a Christmas Tree Maze (within the Children’s Market). Plus an ice rink and plenty of pretzels, German beer, glühwein, and other German Christmas treats.
5. St Albans, 27 November – 21 December 2014
A relative newbie on the Christmas market scene (this is only its second year), the event in the ancient city of St Albans already boasts a considerable number and range of wooden stalls and activities. Located in the grounds of the 11th-century Cathedral, within the walled Vintry Garden, there will all kinds of seasonal wares on sale, from Slovakian wooden toys to beautiful Christmas wreaths. There will also be a Santa’s Grotto, treasure hunts, and popular carols sung every day from the St Albans Cathedral choristers.
6. Winchester, 20 November – 21 December 2014
In the stunning setting of the Inner Close of Winchester’s glorious Norman cathedral, the city’s Christmas Market is a delightfully traditional festive celebration. Particularly special is its ice rink right in the Inner Cloister (an utterly magical backdrop), the Farmers’ market (on the 12th), and the chance to meet Father Christmas for the little ones – all leading up to a Christmas Eve carol concert in the cathedral itself.
7. Exeter Cathedral, 20 November – 18 December 2014
Another winning Cathedral setting, but this time in the historic city of Exeter. Still in its early days, the Christmas market in the Cathedral’s grounds provides the chance to buy lots of special and unusual presents – with a mix of locally crafted wooden toys, vintage furniture, and tasty food.
8. Bath, 27 November – 14 December 2014
One of the most popular in the UK, Bath’s Christmas Market has considerable appeal for a number of reasons. As well as the obvious factor of being hosted amidst the city’s instantly recognisable, gorgeous spa-town Georgian houses (and Bath Abbey is also illuminated for the occasion), the market also has a homely feel, despite housing over a hundred traders in individual chalet-like stalls. The many homemade crafts and foods from counties all over the UK make for delightful stocking-fillers and on Fridays and Saturdays the free market will be open until 9pm, making life easier for the last-minute shoppers among us.
9. Birmingham, 13 November – 22 December 2014
The biggest Christmas market outside Germany, Birmingham’s is inspired by its twin city, Frankfurt. Overflowing with glühwein, rich gingerbread, bratwurst and lashings of German beer, there’ll be a record number of 180 stalls this year, as well as all the usual highlights. This is the closest you’ll get in the UK to the traditional German festivals that inspired the Christmas market trend, and makes for a memorable experience.
10. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, 21 November 2014 – 4 January 2015
A Christmas market family favourite, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is returning to London once more. Take a turn on its lit-up Giant Observation Wheel and enjoy splendid views of the park before hitting the ice rink and lapping up the hustle, bustle and general merriment as you wander around the fair’s plentiful rides, games and seasonal food stalls.
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