The best Christmas fairs in Herts!
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It’s mid November which can only mean one thing – a Christmas fair frenzy. There’s bound to be one where you live, but there are a few worth travelling further afield for too. Here’s my pick of the best ones around, plus a round-up of the best-of-the-rest.
It’s the fifth year now that Hatfield House has hosted its Christmas Frost Fair, and it’s become massively popular– not least because of the lovely setting. The Jacobean mansion house is set in beautiful parkland and gardens, with displays of historic and contemporary art in the house itself. The Frost Fair gives you the chance to browse more than 200 stalls, as well as enjoying a food fair – or dining in the Coach House Restaurant if you’re after something a bit more substantial. There’s entertainment, mulled wine, and Santa himself will be putting in an appearance. As well as the stalls, the Hatfield House and the Stable Yard gift shops will be open. If you’re feeling crafty, there are also drop-in workshops that include creative Christmas decorating – something a bit more exciting than sticking up last year’s tinsel and hoping for the best!
When: Fri 21 Nov – Sun 23 Nov, 10am to 5pm.
Where: Great North Road, Hatfield, AL9 5HQ.
How Much: £5 for adults (accompanied children 15 or under free). Admission includes free parking and park and ride in Hatfield Park. Save 10% by booking in advance.
St Albans has some form with markets – it’s been holding them regularly since the 9th century — so it’s no surprise that the city really goes to town with its Christmas Market every year, holding not one day, not two days, but a whole 25 days of festive fun. More than 65 stalls are in and around the walled gardens next to the medieval cathedral, and are housed in traditional wooden chalets decorated with lots and lots of twinkly lights which make it all feel very European. It’s just a minute or two’s walk from the main shopping streets, and if all this festive cheer gets too much for you, the oldest pub in the country, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, is just down the hill. There’ll be entertainment on hand, on the final day, 21 December, including carols every hour, on the hour, in the Cathedral.
When: Thur 27 Nov – Sun 21 Dec (11am-6pm Sun – Weds; 11am-8pm Thurs – Sat).
Tring Together Traditional Christmas Festival
Tring’s annual Christmas Festival is guaranteed to bring the entire town to a complete standstill – the High Street closes early in the afternoon, and it’s filled with people right from the lights switching on at 6.30pm until the last stall closes at 9.30pm. Father Christmas will be there – of course – but the High Street shops will all be open if you feel that you’ve been good enough to deserve a little treat before the big day. There will be more than 40 arts, crafts and food stalls, too, plus rides for the kids and entertainment on the main stage.
When: Fri 28 Nov, 6.30 – 9.30pm.
Where: Tring High Street
Watford Colosseum is taking the plunge this year and hosting its first every Christmas Artisan Market, and by the looks of it it’s going to be a biggie. The usual crafty stalls are promised, but they’re also offering entertainment throughout the day (yes, J-Lo could well be flying in for a one-day only appearance), lunch in the restaurant, mulled wine and snacks in the cafe-bar, a bouncy castle on which to boot your hyperactive youngsters and more gift ideas than the Argos catalogue. If you make it there, let me know what you think of it!
When: Sunday 25 November, 11am to 5pm
Where: Watford Colosseum, Rickmansworth Road, Watford, WD17 3JN
Wimpole Estate, just over the border into Cambridgeshire, is a lovely National Trust property with a stunning X-century mansion and a working farm. This Christmas, there are a couple of festive events worth taking a peek at – and the house and gardens are lovely enough alone to make the trip. They will, this being National Trust, be decorated beautifully for Christmas as well. Oh, and there are animals and things if you’ve got little ones to keep happy.
They’re kicking off the festivities with a Craft Fair on 15 and 16 November, with over 50 stalls alongside their own Stable Block shops, but you can also buy-up big style at the Wimpole Winter Festival (from 1 Dec). The festival is a month-long chance to check out the decorations in not only the house (weekends only) but also the gardens and the farm – the pigs love a bit of Christmas cheer. There are also craft and baking workshops, plenty of bracing winter walks, and the chance to warm up at their hot chocolate bar. Rest assured, there will be lots of opportunities to shop, as well as music and storytellers on hand to complete the festive feel.
When: Craft Fair 15-16 Nov: Wimpole Winter Festival Mon 1 Dec to Tues 6 Jan, 11am to 4pm for activities and shopping. House and farm open weekends only: 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 Dec.
Where: Wimpole Estate, Arrington, Royston SG8 0BW.
More? You want more, you say?!
If you just can’t get enough Christmas fair cheer, don’t despair. There’s something going on every weekend until now and January somewhere near you! Frogmore Paper Mill Christmas Fayre (30 Nov, 11am-4pm) in Apsley, Hemel Hempstead offers craft stalls, as well as a guided tours of the paper mill and – weather permitting – trips on their canal boat. Heading north, the Harpenden Christmas Carnival (23 Nov, 12-6pm) gets going early, with plenty to entertain you before the lights are switched on at 5.30. Be sure to make time, though, to pop into the Harpenden Ladies Circle Gift Fair (22 & 23 Nov, 9.30am-4.30pm). It is always worth a visit, featuring 50 high-end stalls as well as festive food and refreshments. It’s just £2 to get, assuming you’re over 14, and it’s all for a good cause so you can feel virtuous while you spend. Not far down the road you’ll find the Redbourn Christmas Market (30 Nov, 11am-5pm). There’s the usual array of stalls, as well as some rather tempting prizes up for grabs in the raffle.
Should you feel the urge to stroke a real live reindeer — and maybe you do — then Hertford Christmas Gala (28 Nov, 4.30-8.30pm) is the place to do it. There’s also a fun fair, so it sounds like a good choice if you’ve got small fry in tow. The big man in red himself, along with more reindeer, will be at the Knebworth House Christmas Fair (14-16 Nov, 10am-4pm). There should be a wide range of arts, craft and gift stalls so you’ll have no trouble at all finding gifts for those more troublesome relatives. It’s just £5 on the gate (£4 concessions, £3 children 2-16). And last, but certainly not least, there’s the Grand Christmas Craft Fair (15 Nov, 10.30am-4pm), in Great St Mary’s Church, Sawbridgeworth. They’ll be serving bacon rolls all day — which might make a welcome change from all those mincepies.