Christmas markets have never been more popular. A long-standing ancient tradition, they virtually disappeared when Christmas was banned by Oliver Cromwell. However, the recent interest in locally-sourced produce and all things handmade mean they are enjoying a real renaissance across the UK. Here
take us through some of the best UK markets to get the whole family in the festive mood.
A Victorian Festival of Christmas Dickens has become synonymous with Christmas and this stunning market, celebrating 200 years since his birth, really is a Victorian treat. Set in the historic dockyard, it features a cast of colourful characters, from Fagin's pickpockets to elegantly-dressed gentry.
A firm favourite with families, this market has a array of food and gifts, as well as the opportunity to see a traditional Father Christmas clad in green and even some reindeer.
Whilst you're enjoying a traditional taste of Christmas in Portsmouth, make sure you also visit the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum. You're sure to be inspired to create the perfect Christmas.
Birmingham: Frankfurt Christmas Market
Nowhere does Christmas markets like Germany, but this Frankfurt-style market is a pretty good substitute. The largest of its type outside of Germany, it is a spectacular delight of over 180 stalls in the stunning Victoria Square.
A village of wooden chalets is festooned with offerings, from painted baubles to traditional gifts. The air is filled with the scent of Gluhwein, marzipan, pretzels, German beer and pastries in a feast for all the senses.
The stunning World Heritage city of Bath is home to one of the largest Christmas markets in the UK, held over almost three weeks. Taking place between the breathtaking Abbey and architectural splendour of the Roman Baths, this market is a Georgian delight crammed with charming chalet stalls.
Over 140 vendors offer everything from traditional toys, handmade decorations and luxurious festive foodstuffs to stylish jewellery and original art. Sip a mulled wine and enjoy the sound of carols filling the air, marvel at the gorgeous lights, or warm yourself with fresh roasted chestnuts from one of the stands at this true Christmas treasure.
Cardiff Christmas Market
With a strong local presence, this market celebrates all that is wonderful about Welsh craft. Browse the many stalls for unusual gifts, from slate and pewter goods to carved love spoons and gorgeous silver jewellery. Perfect for picking up some truly unique presents.
Manchester Christmas Market
One of the UK's largest Christmas markets, this five-week extravaganza transforms the city centre into a vibrant and bustling hive of stalls and traditional wooden chalets, spread across eight different locations.
There is a strong European flavour to this event, with traders travelling from as far away as Spain, France and Holland to supply quality produce and unusual gifts. This market is a food lover's delight, with a huge variety of exotic foodstuffs to sample, from goulash and paella to hot chocolate and pancakes. Delicious!
Glasgow Christmas Continental Market
Set in the fabulous St Enoch's Square, this market brings a truly global flavour to Scotland's capital. Packed with foods from around the world and a range of artisan gifts sold from rustic cabins, this is a great way to kick-start your Christmas shopping.
Winter Wonderland in London
More than just a Christmas market, the capital's Hyde Park is transformed into a Winter Wonderland. There is a vast array of attractions to enjoy, from Zippo's Christmas Circus to a specially created ice rink. Take a ride on the Giant Observation Wheel for truly stunning views across the park or get an adrenaline rush on one of the many rides.
One of the most amazing features is the Magical Ice Kingdom. Marvel at the skilfully-carved stags, bear and rabbits, wander through the Stalagmite Forest and be amazed by the exquisite Ice Castle.
There is also a bustling Christmas market, offering everything from decorations and clothing to tempting festive foody treats. The Hyde Park experience really has everything you could wish for to get yourself in a merry Christmas mood.
With such a huge choice of Christmas markets all over the country, there is bound to be one near you. From stately homes to large city centres, they are everywhere, providing the perfect day or evening out and a fabulous opportunity to really get into the Christmas spirit.