Rachel Recommends… Festive Markets

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… not only did I have to de-ice my car this weekend but I also had the choice of at least half a dozen festive markets taking place across the North of England. I may have been slightly grumpy about the windscreen, however, I couldn’t have been happier about the markets! Christmas and shopping and two of my favourite things, add them together and you get one very merry Rachel!

After much deliberation my festive market of choice was the Countryside Christmas Fair at Kirkley Hall in Northumberland, a two day event with over 150 stalls selling gifts, crafts and tasty treats from local businesses. For the children there was balloon modelling, fairground rides, face painting, arts and crafts workshops and of course, the obligatory Santa’s grotto.

I was well and truly in my element, chatting to the traders about the origins of their decorative wares and the secret ingredients in their Christmas puds. There was also plenty of tempting food and drink samples on offer which enticed me in to purchasing a whole hamper of goodies including  delicious Northumbrian cheese and homemade ginger wine, perfect for warming the cockles on a cold winter’s day.

Reindeer at Kirkley Hall Zoo Christmas Fair

Entrance to the fair was a bargain £2 which also included admission to Kirkley Hall Zoo with over one hundred species of animals including emus, wallabies, marmosets, pygmy goats, donkeys, meerkats and rather appropriately there were some Reindeer too! It was great to see the animals so well cared for and lapping up the attention of hundreds of visitors including lots of very smiley happy children.

I had such a great time at the Countryside Christmas Fair that I thought I’d check out where else you can get in to the festive spirit over the next few weeks. There are literally hundreds of events to choose from across Britain, which is handy because I still have quite a few pressies to buy and I’d much rather give handmade, local produce as gifts. These are the other Christmas markets I’ll be hoping to find inspiration at… maybe I’ll see you there?

Manchester Christmas Markets: 17th November – 23rd December

‘A truly international event with a uniquely Mancunian flavour’… Manchester has been attracting the Christmas shoppers to its city centre markets for over a decade and this year promises to bigger and better than ever. Expect streets lined with traditional style chalets serving up yuletide delicacies from all over Europe. I’m saving a space for the delicious Dutch pancakes, mmmmmm!

Bath Christmas Market: 22nd November – 9th December

Beautifully illuminated by Bath Abbey, the Bath Christmas Market is set to sparkle, especially on Fridays and Saturdays when no fewer than 140 stalls will stay open till 9pm in the main square. If you can make it, the opening night of the market (22 November) promises to be a great event to get everyone in the festive mood, kicking off with the children’s lantern procession from the Holburne Museum at 5pm.

Edinburgh’s Traditional German Market: 29th November – 6th January

For six whole weeks Edinburgh is transformed in to a winter wonderland with not one but eight Christmas markets across the city! From the traditional German market to the ethical Christmas fair, it’s no wonder Edinburgh is recognised as one of the best cities in the UK to spend Christmas. There are loads of other traditional activities to choose from too like ice-skating in East Princess Street Gardens to lantern making at the Castle. This year Edinburgh introduces a new attraction too with screenings of ‘Rocket the Reindeer’ at the 3D cinema. I wish I could spend the whole six weeks there!

Have you been to any Christmas markets or fairs yet? If so why not share your experiences with us?

All images by Rachel Kershaw.

Rachel Kershaw is 31 and lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne but is originally from Rochdale. With parents who have never even owned passports, it was inevitable that Rachel would fall in love with holidays in Britain. It was her genuine passion that saw her win the opportunity to be VisitEngland’s Fan in a Van in summer 2012 – an adventure that involved ten weeks on the road in a vintage VW camper blogging about everything from bungee jumping, hot air ballooning and surfing to visiting museums, zoos and numerous British eateries! What a lucky lady!

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