Britain’s Best Christmas Markets
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
December is fully upon us and even those who have felt a little Scroogey up to this point can no longer deny that Christmas is fast approaching.
With this in mind, Grow Talk present you with a run-down of the best Christmas markets that the UK has to offer; overflowing with mulled wine, German-style huts and plenty of festive cheer.
Bath: November 22nd to December 9th
A staple for me and my family, Bath Christmas Market is hands-down my favourite of the Christmas markets I have been to. So what makes it so special?
Part of Bath Market’s charm is its variety; with over 180 festive stalls you can go year on year and not grow bored. As a born feeder, there are plenty of cheese, chutney and sweet treat stalls to keep my food habits in check.
A significant part of the market’s appeal is the city itself. Christmas time or no, Bath is a beautiful West Country city with a stunning Abbey. With the market stalls surrounding this iconic building, you cannot help but feel a little breathy. Add together Bath’s natural beauty and a tonne of Christmas lights, trees and festive huts and you are most definitely on to a winner.
London: November to January
Grow Talk couldn’t write a Christmas market article and leave out the capital city. Choose from the traditional Nordic inspired Southbank Centre Winter Market at Royal Festival Hall (November 9th to December 27th) to the more extravagantly festive Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (November 22nd to January 6th). The latter even comes with an ice rink, ice bar and circus shows. For more wintry fun, the pop-up town of Winterville will take over part of Clapham Common from November 15th to December 23rd. Known as London’s ‘alternative’ winter festival, Winterville has a Street Feast zone, a fair ground, backyard cinema, roller disco and many other exciting, if not necessarily festive, attractions.
Birmingham: November 15th to December 23rd
Birmingham boasts one of the largest German markets held outside of Germany and Austria. In the Frankfurt Christmas Market, visitors can enjoy a range of native fare, including pretzels, schnitzels, bratwursts, glühwein (mulled wine) and weissbeer (wheat beer). This year, Birmingham Cathedral will also offer an outdoor market with the chance to meet Father Christmas (November 15th to December 22nd).
Belfast: November 17th to December 22nd
Belfast’s City Hall Gardens have already been transformed into a village setting for its annual Christmas market. The stalls proffer a range of treats, from French tarts to various cheeses and meats. For those not as food orientated as me, they also sell clothing, crafts and decorations from across Europe and there’s even a helter skelter for the kids (and big kids!).
Manchester: November 9th to December 23rd
In Manchester, you will find a range of markets including a European market in Albert Square, French-themed stalls at King Street and a German-style market at St Ann’s Square. With so many markets to choose from, you will be able to find gifts ranging from jewellery to leather goods and speciality foods.
To add to the city’s festive feel, there are fairground rides in the Cathedral Gardens and yes, you’ve got it, there is food, food and more food; gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, Yorkshire Pudding wraps and plenty of exciting tipples.
Cardiff: November 15th to December 23rd
Cardiff Christmas Market is a great place to find a range of artwork, from prints to posters and cards. There are also stalls offering children’s toys, jewellery, knitwear and more. Close to the market you will also find a Winter Wonderland, containing a funfair and ice rink. Cardiff Castle is also playing host to a rather special man in a red suit until December 22nd when he has to hop to it and start organising his elves for the big day.
Brighton: November 24th to December 9th
You’ll have to get your skates on for this unusual market, which closes on Sunday. For this final weekend, local artists are opening their homes and workshops to sell a range of arts and crafts directed at festive shoppers in the Artists Open House scheme. Around sixty venues will offer paintings, prints, sculptures, upcycled goods, jewellery and much more to Christmas shoppers.
Winchester: November 17th to December 20th
Playing host to one of the largest Christmas markets in the South of England, the medieval city of Winchester has around 100 wooden chalets housed in the Cathedral Close. There’s even an open-air ice rink. Stalls selling predominantly craft items, including Christmas decorations and jewellery, can be found in this beautiful city. As with many Christmas markets, the food and drink has a German-theme so there’ll be glühwein and bratwursts a-plenty.
Totnes: 4th, 11th and 18th December
Another personal favourite, the charming, yet steep, high street in Totnes hosts a fantastic array of food, crafts and gifts. With the majority of the shops staying open too, this market is always a popular choice. Always beautifully decorated, Totnes Christmas Market is a yearly pilgrimage of mine, because it just doesn’t quite feel like Christmas until I’ve had a wood-fired pizza and bought more chutneys than I could possibly eat in a year.
Exeter: November 15th to December 16th
Finally, we have our very own Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market where cosy wooden huts stand in the shadow of Exeter Cathedral, enticing shoppers with the smells of mulled spices and frying onions. The market has a decidedly local focus, with a variety of hand-crafted gifts from Devon-based businesses. The food village, a clear favourite of mine, is back by popular demand. Here you can find foods from around the world; Greek wraps, British hog roasts, Belgian chocolates… Well, now I’m hungry.
In all of your festive endeavours, Grow wishes you a merry, glühwein-filled lead-up to the big day.