The aroma of spiced mulled wine mingled with mince pies pervades the frosty air, along with the melodious sound of carol singing. Enticing stalls are alight with possibilities, groaning under the weight of all things bright and beautiful – all you need to make your Christmas magical.
Yes, local Christmas markets are an essential part of the build-up to the festive season!
We have updated our Christmas Market Guide for 2016.
We followed the reindeer and tracked down the most glittering Christmas fairs and markets in our part of the world …..
BATH CHRISTMAS MARKET
Bath’s Christmas market is one of the largest in the UK – and certainly one of the most atmospheric and picturesque. It lasts for a festive 18 days in the run-up to Christmas, set out in 170-odd wooden chalet stalls which line the city squares and streets around Bath Abbey and the iconic Roman Baths.
The wares on sale include everything from artisan foods to jewellery and clothing. Being in the city centre’s main shopping district (just a step or two from the bus and train station) the market stalls complement the already exciting shopping experience in Bath, guaranteeing you will wrap up your gift-getting in one go!
The best thing about the market however is the magical ambience, helped along by buskers and street entertainers, that imbue the scene with the spirit of Christmas.
The the Bath Christmas Market this year is running from Thursday 24th November – Sunday 11th December with the opening times as follows, Monday to Wednesday – 10am to 7pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday – 10am to 8:30pm and Sunday – 10am to 6pm.
HESTERCOMBE GARDENS CHRISTMAS MARKET
The magnificent Hestercombe Gardens (just off Junction 25 on the M5, close to Taunton) are a major Somerset attraction all year round, but as the festive season approaches this breathtaking venue turns into a winter wonderland.
Christmas cheer comes in large doses at the Hestercombe Christmas market, which sparkles with more than 50 stalls selling beautiful gifts, decorations and tasty festive food.
The market is held over a weekend in mid-November each year, so it’s a chance to get the Christmas spirit stirring early, with easy onsite parking.
This year the market is being held over the weekend of Friday the 18th to Sunday the 2oth November.
BRISTOL CHRISTMAS MARKET
Bristol’s Christmas Market is situated right in the heart of this buzzing area with approximately 45 chalets providing creative gift ideas as well as food & drinks. The market is located in the centre of Bristol on Broadmead which is part of the popular Bristol Shopping Quarter.
The market runs from 11th of November 2016 to the 24th December 2016 and is open daily from 10am – 7pm for the stalls and food and drink open from 10am to 10pm.
SALISBURY CHRISTMAS MARKET
The ambience of the heart of the medieval cathedral city of Salisbury lends itself perfectly to a Christmas market, particularly with the backdrop of the historic Guildhall.
Salisbury’s pretty market has more than 100 stalls, all in the form of tastefully decorated wooden chalets. It brings together the best of traditional European Christmas Markets with a Best of British feel from largely British producers. The high quality and often locally made products make it a unique and special shopping experience.
Salisbury’s Christmas market runs from 24th November until 18th December, and is made even more atmospheric by the participation of schools, choirs and music groups from around the area, performing on the bandstand, as well as a host of events and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.
BOURNEMOUTH CHRISTMAS MARKET
The highly popular Christmas Market in Bournemouth Square is German-inspired, and is a festive party as much as it is a place to stock up on seasonal gifts.
Roasting chestnuts, sizzling sausages and a lively beer garden set the tone, along with dozens of quaint purpose-built stalls, in the style of alpine chalets, selling all sorts of festive fare.
The market buzzes from mid-November right through to after the New Year holiday in the brightly decorated Town Square. Adding to the fun of the fare is a packed programme of entertainment, from carol singing to karaoke.
GLOUCESTER QUAYS VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS MARKET
Gloucester’s historic docks are the backdrop for this early festive extravaganza, which takes place over four days at the end of November.
With a Dickensian theme, the Gloucester Quays Christmas market bustles with life, laughter and a sprinkling of appropriately costumed characters. There are more than 150 stalls selling a treasure trove of hand-crafted gifts to the tune of live music – everything from brass bands and choirs to a barrell organ and buskers. The event is well-fuelled by a plethora of food and drink.
WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL CHRISTMAS MARKET
The elegant cathedral city of Winchester in Hampshire provides a beautiful setting for a Christmas Market that is renowned as one of the finest in Europe, and certainly in southern England. A combination of location – around the Cathedral – and traders dealing in top quality goods from gifts to festive food makes Winchester a winner.
The Winchester Christmas Market follows the traditional German theme, with wooden chalets strung around the Cathedral Close, enclosing a real open-air ice rink. The market draws more than 350,000 visitors each year, and runs from mid-November up to Christmas Eve.
DORSET ETSY MADE LOCAL CHRISTMAS FAIR (Wimborne)
The Dorset Etsy Team (part of the Etsy Made Local national arts and crafts co-operative) brings together a big selection of unique, individual crafts and hand-made gifts from all over the county, providing a wonderful Christmas shopping opportunity.
The fair is held in the Allendale Centre in Wimborne, for one day only, in the first week of December.
This is a chance to not only get your hands on some really special Christmas gifts, but also to chat to the crafters and makers who created them. If you are feeling crafty, you will also find art supplies and do-it-yourself kits on offer.
If you would like to add details of any other Christmas Markets or Fairs in Somerset to this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.