If a Christmas market mini-break abroad is beyond you, Abi Jackson rounds up five of the best in Britain.
With its golden-stoned Georgian architecture, Roman Baths and Royal Crescent, Bath is one of the UK’s prettiest cities and the ideal setting for a weekend of relaxation and romance.
In the run-up to Christmas, it becomes especially charming, lit up, with twinkling lights, carol singers and brass bands adding to the festive magic. For 18 days, Bath Abbey provides a stunning backdrop to the Christmas Market, which sees more than 150 traditional wooden chalets fill the square and surrounding streets. Whether you want to shop or simply soak up the atmosphere, it’s sure to warm the cockles.
Where to stay: Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa (www.lucknampark.co.uk) is the perfect choice for a luxurious romantic break. The five-star 17th-century country house, with rooms from £345, has a Downton Abbey feel. Soothe post-shopping muscles and banish seasonal stress with a treatment at the impressive and newly-extended spa.
Bath Christmas Market runs to December 15. www.visitbath.co.uk.
Slightly smaller in scale but ideal for a weekend of festive-themed family magic, this year Salisbury Christmas Market sees 71 wooden chalets fill Guildhall Square in the city centre. A host of musical events will also take place, including performances by local school choirs.
Where to stay: The Pembroke Arms at Wilton (www.thepembrokearms.co.uk) – a small market town a few miles outside Salisbury – is the perfect base from which to explore. Recently refurbished, this charming and comfortable hotel, which offers a family room (two adults and two under-13s sharing) from £154, also welcomes dogs. Stretch your legs and top up on fresh air with a walk in the surrounding hills and woodlands, enjoy a mysterious family history lesson with a visit to nearby Stonehenge, or go an expedition to spot some of the area’s famous White Horses (if they’re not covered in snow!).
Salisbury Christmas Market runs to December 21. www.visitwiltshire.co.uk.
Designer stores and high street heroes may line London’s West End streets, but it’s still possible to enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas shopping experience in the capital. Set beneath trees decorated with twinkling fairy lights, the Southbank Centre’s Christmas Market has borrowed some of the best ideas from its German counterparts and concentrated them into one easy-to-navigate riverside strip of traditional huts.
Where to stay: The new five-star Rosewood London hotel (www.rosewoodhotels.com), which offers rooms from £370, is ideally placed between the Southbank and West End. Built in 1914, the Grade II-listed building is accessed via a wrought iron gate which opens into an almost perfectly quadrangle courtyard. Inside, the sound of traffic disappears, and porters in flat caps and leather driving gloves set the quintessentially English theme that runs throughout the inviting property.
Southbank Centre Christmas Market runs to December 24. www.southbankcentre.co.uk/winter-festival/markets.
The biggest of its type in Europe, with over 300 stalls, Lincoln’s market draws visitors from far and wide.
In the heart of the historic action, the Cathedral Quarter, the looming cathedral spires and castle walls provide a truly magical setting, with costumed carol singers and brass bands adding to the atmosphere.
While the market only runs for four days, festive fun continues throughout the month, including an ice rink (until December 31) and a reindeer parade (on Thursday, December 12).
Where to stay: Located in the very heart of Lincoln’s historic quarter, The Old Palace (www.theoldpalace.org) combines sumptuous 21st century elegance with the splendour of the Victorian and Georgian era. Double rooms from £125.
Lincoln Christmas Market runs from December 5 to December 8. www.visitlincoln.com.
Soulful and vibrant all year round, the streets of Edinburgh are an extra special treat when Christmas comes to town.There’s something for everyone, with a traditional European Market taking place around The Mound and a Scottish Market in St Andrew’s Square, as well as a new Children’s Market.
Where to stay: Close to the castle, the Witchery boasts nine indulgent and suites. Starting from £325 a night, it’s an antidote to bland, uniform hotels.
Edinburgh Christmas Markets run to January 5. www.visitscotland.com.