It’s November so we’re officially allowed to mention the ‘C’ word. I’m dreaming about mulled wine, twinkling lights, ALL THE CARBS and a trip off island to one of the fabulous Christmas Markets that pop up every December.
Each year I try to visit a different one as part of the festive traditions to do some last minute shopping, eat yummy food, and as an excuse to get merry (lowkey p!ssed) and sing in the streets holding a cute little cup because HOW OFTEN is it acceptable to do that?!
Here’s my top picks to get you into the festive spirit this December and all within an easy drive from the port at Heysham.
Christkindelmarkt in Leeds
9th November – 22nd December
Drive time: 1 hour 35
Described as a ‘a little piece of Germany in the heart of Leeds’, Christkindelmarkt includes traditional wooden stalls, festive greenery, a Christmas carousel ride, and twinkling colourful lights.
With a continental festive vibe, it forms an integral part of the city’s annual events programme. Browse more than 40 wooden chalet stalls from authentic German traders and get your fix of as much bratwurst, goulash, schnitzel, and stollen as you like.
If you’re traveling with kids don’t miss the weekly Sunday children’s show which includes crafting, sing-alongs and appearances from winter wonderland princesses.
You can also grab some breakfast with the big man himself in the Alp Chalet.
Winter Wonderland in Nottingham
15th November – 31st December
Drive time: 2 hours 45
Nottingham not only has a Victorian-themed market with roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and carol singing, but also a Winter Wonderland extravaganza with one the UK’s largest ice-bars, an ice rink, and a Helter Skelter themed ride and bar.
So if you’re torn between wanting the traditional style market experience or something more modern and liquor-laced, you can get the best of both worlds here.
Twelve Days of Christmas at Castle Howard in York
17th November – 31st December
Drive time: 2 hours 25
For a festive experience that’s a bit different, journey through Castle Howard’s grand state rooms instead. This year the Castle is adopting a ‘12 Days of Christmas’ theme which promises ‘a stunning array of flamboyant displays’.
The open fires, candlelight and live music evoke all that we love about Christmas, with the iconic 25 foot traditional Christmas tree adorned with over 3,000 baubles taking pride of place in the Great Hall.
You can enjoy an array of indulgent winter warmers across their catering outlets and complete your Christmas shopping in the Gift Shops, Christmas Market, Farm Shop and Garden Centre.
Christmas Markets at Chatsworth House in the Peak District
16th November – 4th December
Drive time: 2 hours
Located in the Peak District, Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family.
A twist to the traditional street style markets, you can choose to immerse yourself in a world of make-believe, with enchanting fairy tale scenes woven throughout this stately home. Browse more than 100 stalls, tuck into mince pies and take a magical tour of the house decorated in this year’s festive theme.
Nostalgia in Chester
16th November – 22nd December
Drive time: 1 hour 30
If you’re looking for something a little less commercial, you’re in for a truly magical time at Chester Christmas Market. Explore more than 70 traditional wooden chalets wrapped around a sparkling Christmas tree in the heart of the city centre.
Looking like a scene from a Christmas card, the market is located in the Town Hall Square opposite Chester Cathedral. Pick up a delicious, hot mulled wine and browse the locally produced treats and gifts.
Whether you’re looking for festive food, classic decorations, arts and crafts, a last-minute gift or simply an excuse to drink too much-mulled wine, you can find all you want for Christmas at one of our top picks.
I always choose to go on the ferry because it means I can pile the car full of Christmas presents, do a massive Primark run for me and my daughter and bring back some festive treats (mainly booze or food related, let’s be honest) without any liquid or weight restriction meltdowns.