There’s nothing that gets you in the Christmas spirit quite so much as wandering through a festive winter market in the run up to the holiday season. With fairy lit cabins selling crafts, gingerbread and spiced wine springing up all over the country, we’re put together a list of the nation’s most magical markets:
With 80 wooden chalets lining the river, the Southbank Winter Festival offers mulled wine, bratwurst and a lot more to theatre goers and winter walkers under the looming lights of the London Eye. Wrap up warm as river breeze adds a distinctly nippy chill factor.
With two markets to choose from, this free-to-enter Christmassy corner of Hyde Park offers decorations and unusual present ideas as well as plenty to eat and drink including hot chocolate, spiced cider and plenty of German sausages in its Angels and Yuletide markets. With over 200 stalls and chalets as well as other attractions on site, including fairground rides, Santa’s grotto, ice kingdom and skating rink.
Especially for the kids and the adults who want to spoil them, the Edinburgh Children’s Market, in the heart of St Andrew’s Square enables the child to be the customer, with a variety of experiences and a range of goods with the younger visitor in mind, so get them to save their pocket money, or expect plenty of pester power, or perhaps inspire them to write that list to Father Christmas this year.
Medieval flavours permeate the winter celebrations in York, with Barley Hall’s authentic offering hosting costumed traders and live crafting, alongside streets of festive traders offering top notch grub, from spicy sloe gin to handmade mince pies.
Taking the best of Christmas on the continent with this well established German market, Leeds’ Christkindelmarkt houses a bierkeller next to an ice rink, set in the city’s Millennium Square, as well as a variety of quaint stalls selling schnitzel, glühwein and stölen as well as handcrafted stocking fillers.
More than just a market, the Cardiff Winter Wonderland festive celebration is more popular than ever, with an Alpine village adding a European touch, offering delicious treats from crepes to German sausages to warm up your cockles après skate.
Promising festive fun for the whole family with a glittering finale when the Christmas lights are switched on at 5.00pm, the Taunton Christmas Festival will play host to 100 exhibitors alongside a funfair, pony rides, a petting pen music, street performers and workshops, as well as Santa himself, complete with real reindeer.
A classic Christmas welcomes beautiful Bath’s well-heeled shoppers with a 18 day market hosting 150 chalet stalls in the quaint streets and main square by the Roman Baths and illuminated Abbey. Expect the usual fare done to perfection in this beautifully situated Christmas market.
An annual one off spectacular that closes the town centre to traffic for the day, this popular event, includes the traditional “cake hurling” attracts around 12,000 people for the chance to catch a year’s good luck, according to tradition. Opening with the mayor hurling a cake from the Town Hall Gallery at 11.00am, for a day of festive fun, food and frivolity until 5.00pm.
Take a trip back in time down Rochester’s cobbled streets for its annual Dickensian Christmas market; featuring a parade of events taking place from 12.00 – 8.00pm with carols, lamp lit processions, and an appearance by Father Christmas alongside characters from Charles Dickens’ best loved books.
Without skipping to the country and heading to the Alps, you can’t get a more cheek flushing, nose tingling wintery thrill than putting your skates on and heading to an outdoor ice rink this winter. Whether you’re a novice skater inspired by the shows like Dancing on Ice, or you’ve been practising your double axel for decades, now’s the time to show off your skills. Grab some thick socks, and something to protect your hands when you inevitably take a tumble, and head to your local outdoor rinks, which are springing up by their dozen this season at a town or city near you.
What better way to fly round the ice than to do it somewhere different? From rinks surrounded by sky scrapers to those surrounded by funfairs, we’ve put together a list of our top ten city centre outdoor rinks where you can take a tumble before heading for a tipple – most will have an accompanying bar where you can put your feet up post-skate and enjoy a well-deserved hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm your cockles after finding your feet around the ice.
Adult peak £10.00, children 8-17 peak £8.00. Open weekdays midday to 10.00pm, weekends 10.00am to 10.00pm
This Glaswegian gem in the heart of the city lets you skate under the stars with ice marshals on hand to help you perfect your slalom amid a winter festival atmosphere that incorporates a line-up of festive films, music and entertainment events.
Adult peak £12.50, children, 4-15 £8.50. Open daily 10.00am to 8.45pm
Set beneath the city’s big wheel, with Edinburgh Castle looming overhead, the Princes Street rink is part of the city’s Winter Wonderland festivities. There’s plenty of room to showcase all your tricks, as one of the biggest open-air ice rinks in Europe, and with a variety of seasonal events and stalls alongside, this is the perfect place to get your festive season off to a flying start.
Adults £9.00; children from £6.00. Open 9.45am until 8.45pm with exceptions
With a Star Ride taking place 60m above ground, a Santa’s grotto and Christmas market, there’s plenty to see and do in addition to the Admiral open air ice rink, taking place at Cardiff civic centre on the City Hall Lawn. Bring in the New Year with a midnight skating session on New Year’s Eve only!
Adult, £13.50, child £9.00. Open weekdays 10.30 to 11.00pm, weekends 10.00am to 10.45pm
One of the longest running rinks over the winter season, this temporary ice structure flanked by skyscrapers gives real meaning to the idea of skating in the city, with a high end bar and viewing terrace so you can quaff bubbles before you don your skates, and featuring London’s first ever skate path, which leads skater under fairy lit trees away from the main rink.
Adult £9.75, child £8.75. Open daily 9.30am to 9.15pm
With a giant Christmas tree presiding over skaters this is the largest skating rink in the north of England, and when visitors have finished showcasing their skating talents they can feed their faces at the adjacent Alpine café and bar, which serves comforting treats such as Nutella crepes and wood fired pizza, as well as the obligatory mulled wine and hot chocolate.
Adult £8.50, youth 13-16 £7.50, child 8-12 £6.00, child 4-7 £5.00. Open daily 10.00am to 8.30pm
At the heart of Spinningfield’s pop up festive village, the ice skating rink is surrounded by fairy lit pines and a helter-skelter as well as shops and eateries, allowing even the most committed Christmas shopper to get their skates on in style.
Ice Cube, Leeds, 25 January 2014 – 24 February 2014
Adult £7.00, child 2-12 £5.00. Open, various times
Brighten up the post- Christmas period and burn off those January pounds at the Ice Cube, in Millennium Square, Leeds. Featuring a nursery rink and penguin skating aids for little ones and learners as well as an ice dragon coaster, snow slide and glacier run simulator for a host of winter thrills without the tinsel.
Adult peak £13.00, child under 12 under peak £8.50. Open daily 10.00am to 10.15pm
Lighting up Britain’s Pleasure Palace with room for 250 skaters, this beginner friendly rink has sessions especially for novice skaters first thing every day except for Christmas, and for those who’ve had a little more practice, it remains one of the most spectacular settings countrywide for frolicking on the ice.
Adult peak £9.50, child 8-18 peak £7.50. Open daily 10.00am to 7.30pm
Another rink of historic splendour, Winchester Cathedral’s ice rink and market brings a touch of Gothic ecclesiastical formality to the annual Christmas consumer panic, so take an hour under these watchful spires and glide away modern day festive stress.
The annual Christmas splurge means, for most of us December’s an expensive time of year. With many of us hoarding gifts in anticipation of the big day, or looking forward to receiving the latest gadget, it’s well worth making sure you’re covered for that camera, tablet or console Santa might be bringing you this year.
Topping up your home insurance cover, particularly in the run up to the Christmas period is a good idea as thefts hit their annual peak
However, this extra cover only protects certain items while they are in your home, so if you are planning on showing off those posh earrings your other half splashed out on, wearing your smart new watch to the theatre or letting little Billy take his DS3 to his mate’s house, it’s worth informing your insurer of any new high value items you’ve purchased or received to ensure you’re safeguarded against loss, theft or breakage outside your home.
Gadgets and electronic equipment should be a top priority for cover as portable but expensive kit, such as cameras, tablets and consoles are easy to lose, and break, and are top on the Christmas list for thieves over the festive period.
So make sure your Christmas goes with a swing this year and ensure you’re covered for everything you’re giving, receiving or getting cheap in the sales, to help ensure you have a happy Christmas and protect your festive haul well into the New Year.
Once the preserve of the rich and famous, valet parking is becoming increasingly common in the UK, particularly for those heading to the airport on holiday who choose to take advantage of hotel stay and park packages. It’s always nice not to have to worry about parking your car, and there is something reassuring about handing your vehicle over to a uniformed valet. Continue reading →
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But for ethically minded motorists, what other factors should you look at before you fill up your tank?
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It’s a sad fact that burglaries always hit a peak in the months running up to Christmas. But did you know that November is when you are most likely to be burgled all year, with a tenth of all burglaries taking place this month? With break-ins hitting a high of two every minute as the nights draw in, it pays to be extra vigilant around security, particularly during outdoor events like fireworks parties, where it’s easy to leave doors open and give thieves easy access while you’re in and out having fun. Continue reading →
With over half a million whiplash claims in the UK last year, Britain seems to be suffering far more from this type of injury following car accidents than its European neighbours – Or maybe not… with the government believing many claims to be bogus in its new crack-down on whiplash claims without a medical report.
We are all prone feel a little under the weather during the winter months, whether it’s from eating too much comfort food as the nights draw in or letting our fitness slide because bad weather makes it less appealing to be out and about. It pays to take an active interest in your health while it’s cold outside. Here’s our handy guide to keeping in good health this winter.
Halloween may be just round the corner but already the creepy crawlies are out in force, with slugs, snails and spiders all making a resurgence at this time of year, particularly because we’ve had such a good summer.