Can you imagine the public outcry if our government banned Christmas? During the early 1600's, Christmas markets flourished in the UK. By 1649, they'd become all but a distant memory, banned under the Puritan supremacy of Oliver Cromwell. Christmas markets were consigned to history until 1660, when Charles II ascended the throne and immediately overturned the prohibition. Today, Christmas markets constitute an integral event in the community calendar, heralding the beginning of the Christmas season. From holly, mistletoe and Christmas fayre, to handmade jewellery, clothes and books, these popular UK markets are still the best place to snap up a real Christmas bargain!
Lincoln Christmas Market, Lincolnshire
Lincoln Christmas Market kicks off every 1st December in the Cultural Quarter, opened with a rousing carol set from Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Band. Over 250 stalls litter the vicinity of St. Paul in The Bail Cathedral and Lincoln Castle, carrying a delectable array of yuletide treats, including stollen, plum bread and cask ales from Germany. Dripping with twinkling lights and festive cheer, the Cathedral Lawn plays host to the cream of Lincolnshire's theatre groups, featuring 'Twelve Days of Christmas' by Chapterhouse Theatre Company and evening carol concerts by the De Capo Singers. Sundays are the pinnacle for entertainment at Bailgate and Castle Hill, with the Dickensian favourite 'A Christmas Carol' performed to swells of over 5,000 people. For holiday cottages in Lincoln.
Southbank Christmas Market, Queens Walk, London
Laced with shimmering lights and festive bunting, London's tree-lined South Bank is a truly magical district as wintry dusk descends upon the city. Its also the venue for London's youngest seasonal outdoor event, the Southbank Christmas Market. Sixty chalets line the route at Queens Walk, offering strange curios like tin-cast toys and sculptures, ornamental doll houses and set amber jewellery. Bratwurst and gingerbread stalls are covertly positioned around the children's carousel, the aroma of which is guaranteed to lure even the most resolute of dieting visitors. Open from 24th November to 18th December, Southbank Christmas market incorporates a number of smaller events during the festive extravaganza, including the must-see Chocolate Festival and Real Food Market. Holiday rentals in London.
Highland Village Christmas Market, Edinburgh
Overlooking the shimmering outdoor ice-rink beneath the Edinburgh Wheel lies a gem of a market, said to be one of the oldest in Scotland. Distinctly patriotic compared to the neighbouring German event, Highland Village Christmas Market is the only place you'll find seven variations of shortbread; five types of venison burger from Well Hung and Tender, plus a community of tartan clad teddy bears - all sourced from local producers. Located within the magical East Prince's Street Gardens, Highland Village replicates the kind of scene traditionally associated with Fort William, featuring cosy timber-framed cabins, candlelit carol concerts and festive fun for the whole family. Cozy cottages in Edinburgh.
Leeds Christkindelmarkt, Millennium Square, Leeds
Set within the historic confines of Millennium Square, Leeds' month long Christkindelmarkt brings a continental air to the aesthetically beautiful heart of Leeds. Rows of chalet cabins create avenues for shoppers, each promising authentic surprises, such as schnitzels, handmade candy canes and caramelised fruits. At its heart, a whirling merry-go-round sets the scene for a truly family oriented day out, with specialty coffee and Gluhweine vendors offering a warm drink and welcoming seating area nearby. NearbyFrankfurter Scheune Meeting Hall proffers respite from the chilly weather with an indoor food fair, restaurant and live entertainment, provided by up-tempo Frankfurt favourites 'Die Enzianer'. Get away from it all in a delightful cottage near Leeds.
Bath Christmas Market, Abbey Churchyard, Bath
Typically British in character, Bath Christmas Market constitutes one of England's best loved festive fairs, featuring over 123 local vendors spilling along the route to the Roman Baths. Beneath the majestic silhouette of Bath Abbey lies the floodlit churchyard; a magical setting transformed with starry lights and ethereal voices of the Abbey Choir, performing carols well into the night. Running from 18 days mid-November to December 11th, Bath Christmas Market is a popular weekender for out-of-towners, known for its eclectic variety of handcrafted jewellery by esteemed silversmith Alex Pole; wooden sculptures from Timber Treasures and ornate candles by Roman Candles of Bath Ltd. Promoted as part of the winter highlights campaign, Bath Christmas Market sets the pace for many other unique invents, including a small food fair beside the Abbey and group tours up into the bell tower! Cottages in Bath.
Which Christmas markets do you enjoy?