Feel like you’ve overdone London’s Christmas markets? They are pretty spectacular, but maybe there are only so many times you can whizz around on Winter Wonderland’s big wheel? Perhaps 2019 heralds the festive season where we venture out of the capital and explore what else the UK has to offer up to the Christmas scene. We’ve heard that with thousands of twinkling stalls, massive ice rinks and unique settings it’s actually pretty ace out there. (And if not, we can always come crawling back.)
Christmas markets in the UK
Stratford-upon-Avon makes a magical setting for a Christmas market with a historical twist. Will’s old stomping ground transforms into a Victorian winter wonderland, with stallholders donning lace bonnets and stick-on sideburns.
When: Dec 6-8
Get there: Two hours 30 minutes from London Marylebone.
Dig out the flower crown and eco-glitter you wore at Glasto – they’ll go down a storm at the Frost Fayre held in the pretty Somerset town. As well as outdoor stalls, a farmers’ market and a grotto, morris dancers, buskers and street performances will add to the jovial atmosphere.
When: Nov 30
Get there: One hour 30 minutes by train from Paddington to Bath, then one hour by bus to Glastonbury.
The Welsh town of Caerphilly will be filled with Christmassy smells as more than 100 food, drink and craft stalls pop up for this market, with street performers on hand to entertain shoppers. At nearby Caerphilly Castle, you’ll find Santa in his grotto and a festive ice rink.
When: Town centre stalls Saturday 7 December 9am-5pm; Sunday 8 December 10am-4pm. Caerphilly Castle Ice Rink open 6 Dec - 6 Jan.
Get there: Around two hours by train from Paddington to Cardiff, then 20 minutes by bus.
Bath’s Christmas market has become so popular that it’s only run for just over two weeks each year – the thousands of tourists that flock to see the market leave the locals feeling pretty disgruntled (sound familiar?). But it’s popular for a reason. It’s one of Europe’s most magical Christmas markets: more than 150 craft and food stalls line around picturesque Georgian streets. If all that shopping tires you out, pay a visit to the steamy, rooftop thermal baths for a soak instead.
When: Nov 28-Dec 15
Get there: One hour and 30 minutes by train from London Paddington.
Frankfurt Market, in the Brummie city centre, is one of the largest German Christmas markets held outside of Germany or Austria. How this came to be we’re not quite sure, but we’re glad it did because it’s pretty damn special. Taking place across Birmingham’s main squares, it’s the best place in Blighty to enjoy an authentic bratwurst, washed down with some gluhwein. Frohe weihnachten!
When: Nov 7-Dec 23
Get there: One hour and 20 minutes by train from London Euston; around two hours 30 minutes by car.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the high street (and let’s face it, if you’re a Londoner you probably do), then Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is the Christmas market spot for you. In the peaceful grounds of this magnificent country house are twinkling wooden chalets selling unique gifts, hot food and warming booze. It couldn’t feel further away from the scrum of Oxford Street. Once you’re done perusing, wander along their Illuminated Light Trail – a fairy-light-lover’s heaven.
When: Nov 22-Jan 5
Get there: One hour 10 minutes by train from London Paddington to Hanborough, then a bus; around one hour and 45 minutes by car.
Every festive season Nottingham, Robin Hood’s stomping ground, transforms into a Christmas Winter Wonderland, featuring a glowing ice rink, a helter-skelter and snowy alpine ski lodges. There’s also a sparkling Christmas market, with 70 wooden stalls surrounding a huge glittering Christmas tree. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into your very own festive fairytale.
When: Nov 15-Dec 31
Get there: One hour and 45 minutes by train from St Pancras; around three hours by car.
Wander along these cobbled, Victorian streets and you’ll stumble into St Nicholas Fair, York’s quintessential Christmas market. Softly-lit huts sell Yorkshire produce, from cheeses and wines to handmade crafts, so that’s your mum’s Christmas presents sorted. There’s also Christmas-themed mini-golf, festive street food and gingerbread stalls. Don’t pretend you’re not excited.
When: Nov 14-Dec 22
Get there: One hour 50 minutes by train from King’s Cross; around four hours by car.
You couldn’t ask for a more magnificent setting for a mulled wine and mince pie sesh than an eleventh-century castle. The medieval atmosphere at Leeds Castle in Kent makes for an extra special Christmas market. Plus, there are fairground rides, a carousel, and live music from the festive bandstand.
When: weekends only between Nov 23-Dec 15
Get there: 50 minutes from St Pancras International, then 15 minutes by bus; one hour 40 minutes by car.