Getting in the Festive Mood with British Christmas Markets
There is nothing like a good Christmas market to boost festive inspiration and give you a good dose of festive cheer.
Indeed just the thought of a Christmas market is enough to make you brim with festive glee. The sound of choirs filling the air, happy chatter and laughter; coupled with the mouthwatering aromas of sizzling street food, roasted chestnuts and mulled wine all combined with pretty stalls huddled together, filled with glistening gift ideas, delicious local produce and gorgeous artisan goods seems like Christmas shopping heaven. There is no doubt in my mind that a good Christmas market is the best way to get in the Christmas spirit.
Whilst the tradition of Christmas markets is an ancient one; it is a relative newcomer to British traditions. Indeed it is only in the past twenty years that the idea of Christmas markets as in a European sense of the term have become popular in Britain. However, in European history Christmas markets have brought cheer and brightness to the cold winter festive preparations for centuries. Serving as a means of trade and leisure.
The story of Christmas markets begins in the late Middle Ages in parts of the former Holy Roman Empire. Whilst, the precursor to Christmas markets is thought to be Vienna’s Dezembermarkt (December Market), dating back to around 1296, undoubtedly it is the Wintermärkte (winter markets) that began to spring up all over Europe that best resemble the Christmas markets we know and love today; for it is these Winter Markets that overtime came to be known as Christmas Markets the earliest of which originate in Germany with such markets recorded in Munich in 1310, Bautzen in 1384 and Frankfurt in1393.
Though Christmas markets have changed and evolved they have most certainly stood the test of time, perhaps because they combine the allure of tradition with the excitement and bustle of an open-air marketplace. Perhaps we love Christmas markets so much because they offer an opportunity to rekindle festive childhood memories and to capture some festive jollity.
Top Five British Christmas Markets
It’s easy to see why this Christmas market is so popular, as it has everything going for it: atmosphere, historic setting and wonderful stalls. Indeed this Christmas market is as festive a mince pie dredged in icing sugar.
Against the backdrop of the city’s Roman baths and magnificent 16th-century abbey, is set up a Christmas market comprising over two hundred artisan food, drink and gift sellers. Stallholders congregate in wooden chalets that line the Georgian streets and if this festive sight is not enough to bring a smile to even the face of Scrooge then the sound of choirs, carol singers and musicians will surely warm the festive cockles of all that visit this bustling Christmas market.
22 November–9 December 2018
You can find out more at www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk
There is something magically romantic about Edinburgh, with its medieval roots; elegant Georgian houses and neoclassical buildings. It is so steeped in history with Edinburgh Castle, home to the stone of destiny, commanding a view over the beautiful city. Indeed it seems that Edinburgh was always destined to be a fantastic location for festive markets being host to not just one, but an array of markets and fairs taking over Christmas and into the New Year.
Visitors can choose from the Christmas market in East Princes Street Gardens and enjoy the fun of the fair with a Ferris wheel and Star Flyer chair ride and another in George Street, with Santa’s Grotto and a range of other seasonal attractions.
If you are in need of a little escape from the bustle after a hard days shopping you can always take a trip to the gorgeous little town of Peebles, [just over 22 miles away from Edinburgh], where you will find a range of galleries and gift shops as well as Cringletie House; a fairytale castle of a hotel that offer a range Delicious December Menu’s and a walking with Alpacas experience on boxing day for £15 per person.
November 19 to January 7
To find out more visit www.edinburghschristmas.com ; www.cringletie.com
Cardiff Christmas Market has so much to offer, its beautifully lit and positively brimming with festive cheer. There’s a great range of art and craft work on sale at this traditional market in the centre of Cardiff – from collage and photographic prints to cards and hand painted decorative objects. Other stalls sell traditional toys, glassware, Venetian masks and ceramics, knitwear, unique jewellery, hair accessories and much more.
After a wander around the Christmas market it is well worth visiting Santa’s Grotto in the atmospheric setting of Cardiff Castle.
November 9 to December 23
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market
Birmingham’s internationally-renowned Christmas market is inspired by its twin town of Frankfurt. If you are wanting to get the festive feel of a German Market without the journey then Birmingham Christmas Market is well worth a visit; as this vibrant and bustling market is the biggest outside of Germany and Austria.
Find your festive cheer with a drink of glühwein and browse the stalls selling wooden toys and Christmas decorations or enjoy a few festive treats for the stomach from one of the food stalls.
15 November–23 December 2018
For more information visit www. birmingham.gov.uk
There is plenty of Christmas cheer to be found in London, as an array of Christmas markets are on offer. Indeed visitors can take their pick from enjoying a stroll around the traditional Nordic inspired Southbank Centre Winter Market(November 14 to December 30) at Royal Festival Hall Riverside, or to enjoy the festive extravagance of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, which is a delight for children young and old (November 18 to January 2), with its giant observation wheel, ice rink, traditional fairground rides, modern rides, circus shows and ice bar; alongside the Christmas market, where gingerbread houses and other festive treats are on offer. Meanwhile, the pop-up town of Winterville will take over part of Clapham Common from November 23 to January 1, with an indoor market and entertainment including a Street food, a big wheel and disco.
If in London this Christmas you’ll find that the twinkling lights, pop up ice rinks and bustle of the Crimbo markets will fill you with festive frivolity; for it is certain that even the hardiest of hearts will melt Winter Wonderland’s – Santa Land or Sooty Show. Indeed whether you are looking for last minute gifts, that festive feeling or some gourmet treats there is plenty on offer in London.
November to January (various dates)
For more information www.visitlondon.com ; www.winterville.co.uk