As we start getting into the last few months of the year, around the UK Christmas markets are going to start popping up. Rows and rows of stalls, huts and pop-ups selling baubles, booze, food, and gifts in time for Christmas.
They’re brilliant. A great way to spend a few hours with friends browsing, having a laugh, and starting to feel festive. To help everyone really get in the Christmas spirit we’ve put some tips together to help you make the most of your trip to a Christmas market.
The UK’s biggest Christmas markets
There are Christmas markets across the country, but some of the biggest are:
Birmingham – the largest Christmas market outside of Germany, this huge market must be seen to be believed. This is an amazing market to spend a day wandering around.
Manchester – a massive market that runs through Manchester city centre, with over 300 stalls, bars, food, and an ice rink. Manchester is a city with great shopping, so you could potentially get everything you need for Christmas in one trip.
Chester – tucked in the heart of Chester in the shadow of its gothic cathedral this is a slightly smaller but incredibly picturesque market, surrounded by the quirky shops and great places to eat that Chester is famous for.
York – Nestled in amongst the already historic and Dickensian-looking buildings this is an amazing market if you’re looking to feel really traditional. Wandering around the Shambles feels like stepping into the past.
Edinburgh – a market that runs a bit longer than others, covering the time leading up to Hogmanay too.
London – Winter Wonderland is gigantic, a huge Christmas event that is visited by thousands of people every year. If you’re making a festive trip to the capital, it’s definitely worth a look.
Make a day (or longer) out of it
Making a trip somewhere to do some Christmas shopping and explore a Christmas market is a great way to set up a weekend away or a city break.
Whether you’re travelling to see friends, do some shopping, or even take in a panto, a Christmas market is a great focal point for a trip.
A Christmas market can be a fun tradition and a nice way to meet up with people in the run-up to Christmas, especially if you’re going to be busy during the festive period and otherwise might not see them.
Set your budget
We all know Christmas can get expensive, it’s far too easy to get caught up in the madness of it all and wind up spending a fortune “because it’s Christmas”.
We’re not saying take a Scrooge approach to Christmas, but when you’re going to things like Christmas markets you should set a budget and try to stick to it. Just so you don’t end up having to cut back somewhere else or get into trouble money-wise waiting to get paid post-Christmas.
Plan your parking
Getting to a city, especially during a peak shopping period doesn’t need to be a parking headache.
If you’re heading to a Christmas market it’s likely that the traffic might be a bit worse than normal, especially if several roads currently have a winter wonderland occupying them and you go on a weekend and need to contend with Christmas shoppers.
Pre-booking your parking can help you park and avoid the crowds, finding somewhere to park, possibly further away than the shoppers will be, to then walk to the markets. Just keep the winter weather in mind when you do this. A nice crisp morning could be lovely to go for a walk in, freezing cold drizzle, not so much.
This is another event that depending on the time it happens and the stories around some of the ghosts (check beforehand if you can, some of the reasons for the ghosts being around might not be suitable for little ones) could be a nice family night out.
Set the mood
Christmas is such an emotive time. Everyone wants to feel festive. If you really want to ramp up the Christmas cheer on your way to a Christmas market throw on a playlist. Whether you want to make your own or jump into the thousands that already exist a collection of Christmas songs can get you right in the spirit of the season and ready to enjoy your day a bit more.
If you’re not a fan of Christmas music (we get it, it’s not for everyone) try listening to an audiobook or something else to set a Christmassy mood.
Beat the crowds
Festive markets get busy, ridiculously so. Especially around weekends. Rather than getting stressed and fighting through people, thinking that maybe the Grinch had a point, it’s always worth seeing if you can beat the crowds by going on days when it’s quieter.
During the week is a great time to try and nail a load of Christmas shopping and browse the markets without having to fight your way around people.
Dodging crowds and being able to shop and browse more easily is a great way to retain some of that peace and goodwill towards all men.
Have you got a favourite Christmas market? Let us know on our social media.