We love a bit of Christmas in this country. There’s a mix of traditional carol concerts, mega German-style markets, Nordic themed-pop up bars, outdoor skating and reindeer petting. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the best Christmas events going on in the UK in 2016.
South and South East
Ok, there’s ice rinks, and then there’s ice rinks in the shadow of a Royal Pavilion. The Royal Pavilion Ice Rink in Brighton has to have the most exotic atmosphere. And once it gets dark and those twinkly lights get going…..
Getting there: 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton BN1 1EE
When’s it open?: November 5 to January 15, Mon-Fri: 5.30pm to 10.15pm, Sat-Sun: 10am to 10.15pm
You can hug a husky in an “Ice Cave” this Christmas. Drusillas Park also has some Winter Wonderland Illuminations, reindeer and of course Father Christmas.
Getting there: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS
When’s it open?: 10am to 5pm, From Saturday 19th November
The Southampton Christmas Festival features a traditional German market complete with crafts and gifts, beers, sausages and waffles. The free festival has live music and best of all a Flying Santa on a high wire.
Getting there: Above Bar precinct, Southampton city centre
When’s it open?: 12th November to 23rd December, Chalets: 10am to 8pm, bars 10am to 10pm
Winchester’s Christmas Market is ten years old this Christmas. The wooden chalets are right next to the cathedral, and they’ve also got an open-air real ice rink. The Cathedral also has several carol concerts, featuring their choir and a lantern procession.
Getting there: 9 The Cl, Winchester SO23 9LS
When’s it open?: 18th November to 20th December. Open every day, 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Wednesday, 10am to 7.30pm from Thursday to Saturday.
The Salisbury Christmas Market takes place in front of the Guildhall in the city centre. There’s more than 30 chalets selling a range of gifts, food and drink. Salisbury Cathedral also hold a traditional “darkness to light” Advent candlelight procession (Fri, Sat, Sun night – 25th-27th November).
Getting there: Market Place, Guildhall Square, Salisbury SP1 1JH
When’s it open?: Christmas Market, 24th November to 20th December.
There’s loads going on in London at Christmas. So much so, we’ve put together some of the best places for Christmas shopping in the capital. We’ve also found 50 things to do in London in winter. Some people even want to go swimming on Christmas Day – brrrrrrrr.
Eden Project – Cornwall
The Festival of Light and Sound will see lasers lighting up the buildings and plants with festive colours. And it’s all set to music. You can ice skate indoors, meet Father Christmas and they’ve got special storytelling sessions in the Mediterranean Biome.
Getting there: Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
When’s it open?: 25th November to 2nd January
The Bath Christmas Market is big. They’ve got a whopping 170 chalets this year (that’s a lot of mulled wine). Bath Abbey has an Advent Procession and carols on Christmas Eve – you can get tickets here.
Getting there: Bath City Centre
When’s it open?: 24th November to 11th December
Exeter Cathedral overlooks the Exeter Christmas Market, which brings the festive spirit into the heart of the city. They’ve got carol concerts (including one with the Exeter Philharmonic), classical music pieces, a Nativity and a Christingle service in a packed programme.
Getting there: Cathedral Precinct, Exeter, EX1 1HS
When’s it open?: 19th November to 18th December, Mon-Wed: 10am to 7pm, Thur-Sat: 10am to 9pm, Sun: 11am to 6pm.
As you’d expect in the hometown of Torvill and Dean, they’ve got an outdoor ice skating rink at the annual Winter Wonderland. This year the theme is “Old England”, and there’s also a market, bars, rides and loads of Christmas trees to choose from.
Getting there: Old Market Square, Nottingham NG1 2DT
When’s it open?: 19th November to 8th January – 10am to 6pm daily (8pm for late shopping)
This is the largest traditional Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria. The annual Frankfurt Christmas Market has more than a 100 stalls, and there’s also a programme of live entertainment on the main stage.
Getting there: Victoria Square, New Street, Birmingham
When’s it open?: November 17 to December 29, Mon-Sun: 10am to 9pm
Gloucester Victorian Christmas Market has 250 stalls – so you can stock up on local produce for Christmas. You’ll also bump into some Dickensian characters while you wander about. They’ve got brass bands and choirs, and you can book a slot on the outdoor ice rink (17th November to 2nd January).
Getting there: Gloucester Quays Designer Outlet Shopping Centre, St Ann Way, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL1 5SF
When’s it open?: November 17 to November 20
The Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre hopes to take you back in time as you walk through the city streets. There’s 200 stalls with Christmas-themed gifts and food. Watch out for the juggling Victorian stilt walkers tottering about.
Getting there: Streets in the city centre
When’s it open?: 24th November to 27th November
Germany is the inspiration for Leed’s Christkindelmarkt and they’ve gone for a winter village feel in 2016. Get your Christmas jumper on and visit the Ski Hutte for a winter warmer – they’ve got a Glockenspiel that can play 30 different melodies. The little ones will like the traditional carousel.
Getting there: Millennium Square, Leeds, LS2 3AD
When’s it open?: November 11 to December 18 – 10.30am to 9.30pm
Lincoln Christmas Market has a prime spot, it’s in the medieval square next to the gothic cathedral. It’s also got cobbles. And of course stalls. 280 to be precise.
Getting there: Bailgate and Steep Hill, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN1 3AA
When’s it open?: 1st-4th December, Thur: 12pm to 9.30pm, Fri-Sat: 10am to 9.30pm, Sun: 10am to 7pm
York’s got to be one of the most Christmassy cities to visit, the narrow streets are straight out of a Dickens novel. The Shambles Market is open every day selling local food and drink. The York Christmas Festival includes the St Nicholas Fair, which is all wooden chalets and lights.
Getting there: York city centre
When’s it open?: 17th November to 23rd December
The aptly named Liverpool Ice Festival has got the UK’s largest ever ice slide. It looks brilliant. Not only is it made of real ice, but you get a view of the whole festival from the top. There’s also an ice bar, ice skating and a Bavarian Food Court.
Getting there: Pier Head, Georges Parade, Liverpool, L3 1DP
When’s it open?: 11th November to 3rd January Sun-Thur: 11am to 9pm, Fri-Sat: 11am to 10pm
Manchester’s got around ten Christmas markets in the city centre to choose from. The chalets arrive in the middle of November, and finish just before Christmas Eve. Along with all the gifts, there are bars and street food. The Christmas Lights in Albert Square have their big (celebrity) switch-on in November.
Getting there: Manchester city centre – locations here
When’s it open?: 10th November to 20th December
Newcastle & Gateshead
The Newcastlegateshead Winter Festival has lots of good stuff going on for Christmas. Head out to the countryside and visit The Alnwick Garden Christmas Market. Enchanted Parks is an after-dark mystery tour around the Victorian, Saltwell Park. There’s ice skating, Christmas Markets and pantos to entertain you.
When’s it open?: Events open throughout November and December
You might think that the Scottish capital would save itself for the big Hogmanay celebrations. But no, they go for it at Christmas too. There’s a European Christmas Market and a Scottish version as well. You can have a peak behind the scenes in buildings that are not normally open to the public as part of the 24 Doors of Advent. The Street of Light in George Street has bulbs that synchronise with music.
When’s it open?: Events on throughout November and December
Glasgow Loves Christmas. It does. It has an official website that says so. They’ve got two major Christmas markets, one in St Enoch Square and the other in George Square. The Blessing of the Crib (7th December) and Baby’s First Christmas – where 100 new born babies head to the City Chambers – are popular family events.
When’s it open?: Events on throughout November and December
Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland has an Alpine Village as well as a funfair. Of course they’ve got an ice rink too. There’s also 80 stalls at the Cardiff Christmas Market in the city centre, with local produce and designers taking up most of the space.
Getting there: Christmas Market – St John Street, Working Street, Hills Street, Trinity Street and the Hayes
When’s it open?: November 10 to December 23, Mon-Sat: 10am to 5.30pm, Sun: 10am to 5pm
Belfast City Hall’s grounds will be transformed for the annual Belfast Christmas Market. They’ve got 80 chalets selling gifts, food and drink and other festive items. The Christmas lights go on in the city centre on 19th November.
Getting there: Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square, Belfast, BT1 5GS
When’s it open?: 19th November to 22nd December, Mon-Wed: 10am to 8pm, Thur-Sat: 10am to 10pm, Sun: 1pm to 6pm
What are your Christmas plans?
We’d love to know what’s going on where you live over Christmas. Let us know by leaving a comment below.
And if you want to spread your wings even wider, we’ve got ten picture-perfect winter destinations suggestions for you, including Finland. Santa’s never too busy for a visit.