If you’re in the mood for a bit of festive cheer, then there’s nowhere better to spend a day than a Christmas market. It’s a fact - we Brits just love stalls dedicated to jingle bells, mulled wine and gingerbread houses, with nine million of us venturing to Manchester’s offering last year and another five million heading to see what’s on offer in Birmingham.
Christmas markets are the perfect place to find festive inspiration so if you don’t think It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas yet, can’t quite believe that Santa Claus is Coming to Town in just a few weeks or are looking for some musical cheer; then perhaps a little family road trip to visit some Christmas markets will be enough to have you Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree? Here are some of the best from around the UK.
Manchester – runs from 10 November to 20 December
Regularly voted as one of Europe’s best markets, with almost 350 stalls promised this year, Manchester will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland. There’ll be bratwurst and glühwein aplenty as well as paella for anyone hoping to rekindle memories of summer holidays, and if you’re just looking for something simple then perhaps a hog roast will tempt you?
Weave your way around the ten dedicated Christmas areas and be inspired by handmade crafts, jewellery, clothes and toys. The effect of colourful fairy lights, festive music and the smell of roasting chestnuts can’t fail to make you feel all warm inside.
Birmingham Frankfurt market – runs from 17 November to 29 December
This is the largest German Christmas market outside of…well, Germany (and Austria) and has over 120 stalls this year. Food again plays a big part in this market with all sorts of culinary treats such as pretzels, schnitzels and of course some good old German sausage – bratwurst of course (what were you thinking?)
If you fancy a bit of history, then the Birmingham – Frankfurt link began in 1966 when the two cities forged a partnership agreement and started working collaboratively on various projects; this market will be the 15th Christmas offering.
Edinburgh – runs from 19 November to 7 January
Control yourselves because Edinburgh offers not just one but two Christmas markets – the European Christmas market and the Scottish Christmas market which runs for a slightly shorter period between 26 November and Christmas Eve.
The whole of Edinburgh will be dedicated to festive cheer, from bespoke European gifts to locally sourced crafts and food. There’ll be choirs, an ice rink and even a giant big wheel and…wait for it… a Santa land. This promises to be grotto like no other – forget the bloke in a dodgy fat suit and fake beard, this the man himself and he’s even brought his elves’ workshop – but you’ll have to find it within the Christmas maze. But if you don’t fancy searching for some underpaid elves with your four-year-old then there’s the Santa train and other children’s rides.
London – runs from November to January (check individual market details)
There are lots of markets to choose from in London and of course there are the dazzling Oxford Street Christmas lights too, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. One of the biggest markets is the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, complete with ice rink. Not only will the Winter Wonderland have more than 200 wooden cabins overflowing with gift ideas but you’ll also find the Angels and Fairies market filled with jewellery and crafts.
Cardiff – runs from 10 November to 23 December
With 80 stalls and 200 crafts people, this is a Christmas market for anyone looking for individual gifts – from art and ceramics, leatherwork and jewellery. The Cardiff market prides itself on supporting craftsmanship both traditional and modern and every year showcases unique talents and new businesses.
There’s also Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland which runs from 10 November until 3 January with an ice rink, Alpine village and family funfair.
Getting away from it all
But whatever you do over the Twelve Days of Christmas, whether it’s at home or abroad, it really is The Most Wonderful Time of Year and at comparethemarket.com, we Wish You a Merry Christmas and a claim free new year – but just in case – make sure you’re covered for your home, your car and your travels.