Cracking Christmas markets and fairs in Herts, Beds and beyond
Ooh we love a good Christmas fair... the twinkly lights, market stalls stuffed with artisan crafts, festive music and delicious smells of mulled wine and gingerbread filling the air. Here are some of the best in our counties and further afield. Re-useable totes at the ready? Let's shop!
When: 4 Dec, 9.30am – 4.30pm
What to expect: This year’s fair is slightly reduced in size yet will still have 100 stalls selling Christmassy wares alongside the usual Farmer’s market and Craft Market vendors. There’ll be everything from food to fashion and even gifts for furry friends as well as plenty of hot food stalls to keep up your spirits in the winter chill. There’ll be live entertainment on the Community and Busking stages, and Santa might just be making an appearance, too.
When: 11-12 Dec, 10am – 4pm
What to expect: Held in Harpur Square, this two-day fair is put on by artisan shop and café, Made in Bedford, showcasing work by the county’s best artists, craftspeople and makers. Find unique cards, gifts, decorations and confectionery, plus there’ll be free face painting, balloon artistry and music from a live rock choir to boot!
When: 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19 Dec, 10am – 4pm
What to expect: Visit Rushmere Country Park during the three weekends running up to Christmas for craft stalls, locally sourced and Fairtrade festive food and drink, plus… Christmas trees! There’ll also be seasonal music and a festive fairy trail to keep the littlies occupied. AND Santa will be popping in on 19th!
Oops, too late for these…
When: 28 Nov 12-6pm
What to expect: After last year’s Covid cancellation, this one promises to be bigger and better than ever. There’ll be a farmer’s market, charity and young enterprise stalls throughout the day, a Santa’s Grotto for the littlies and make sure you stick around for the festive procession at 3pm and lights switch on at 5pm. There’ll also be a funfair, walkabout entertainment as well as a main stage and mini stage hosting performances by local dance, theatre and circus groups.
When: 27 Nov, 3-8pm
What to expect: Tring’s Christmas Festival is the town’s biggest free event – the High Street is closed off to traffic and becomes jam-packed with stalls offering gifts and food as well as mulled wine and gin cocktails from the likes of Puddingstone Distillery. There’ll be funfair rides and Tring’s schools and dance academies will be out in force singing their hearts out in the church square as the shops keep their doors open for some late night shopping, discounts and often free nibbles, too. And don’t miss the light display and Christmas tree comp in the Memorial Garden.
When: 28 Nov, 11am-5pm
What to expect: Father Christmas will be making a special visit to this pretty village in St Albans to open the annual yuletide market, which will host over 90 stalls along hawking all sorts of gorgeous gifts and crafts to whet your festive whistle. Cumberland Gardens will be transformed into a winter wonderlad with twinkly lights and a traditional tree, plus there’ll be musical entertainment throughout the day. Local pub, The Cricketers, will also be providing the grub from their BBQ, with mulled wine and mince pies on offer too.
When: 20-21 Nov 10am-4/5pm
What to expect: Head to this quaint farm-based shopping village in Hitchin for indie crafts and local gifts from needlecraft and jewellery to tasty treats. Get into the German Market spirit with Bratwurst, Saurkraut and Roasted Chestnuts from the Barn Coffee Shop, plus Santa will be storytelling and gift giving in his grotto.
When: 26 Nov (3-8pm), and 27-28 Nov 11am-7pm
What to expect: For the first time, the grand Hertford Castle will be the backdrop for a Festive spectacular. The Castle Lawn will be filled with market stalls, festive entertainment and food to warm those cockles. And don’t miss the Christmas Gala on 26th where you can shop local til you drop in the town centre and soak up the atmosphere.
Christmas Fair, Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, 13 Nov – 23 Dec
This bustling market, with its fairytale Rothschild manor backdrop, boasts charming wooden chalets, fragrant festive food, and an array of local artisan gifts. Don’t miss the amazing light trail in the grounds, while you’re there.
Christmas Market, Blenheim Palace, Oxon, 19 Nov – 19 Dec
Blenheim Palace’s whole Christmas experience this year is well-worth a visit — think an illuminated trail and The Nutcracker re-imagined within the Palace’s rooms — but the market is always a dead cert. Expect boutique, artisan chalets, and plenty of refreshments.
Oxford Christmas Market, 9-19 Dec
The city of dreaming spires will be dreaming of a white Christmas at this bustling market, packed with carol-singing choirs, artisan gifts, and plenty of mulled wine. Pick up some unique local gifts, catch a glimpse of Father Christmas, and enjoy plenty of festive treats.
Victorian Christmas Fayre, Newbury, Berks 3-5 Dec
Dig out your crinolines, hat, furry muff, Newbury’s going back in time to create a Christmas Card pretty vision of the festive season. OK so you don’t have to go in fancy dress unless that’s how you roll. But expect 100+ retailers, stall holders, pubs, restaurants and entertainers to be channeling A Christmas Carol. This is a traditional Christmas market with all jingle bells on. Choirs, vintage carousel, mulled wine and the chance to smash through your gift list.
Christmas Market, Cheltenham, Glos, 20 Nov – 19 Dec
The yuletide market in Regency Cheltenham is back and bigger than ever for 2021. Expect twinkling stalls festooning the pedestrianised Promenade streets, and stalls packed with unique treats, gifts and handmade Christmas decorations. Once you’ve shopped your fill, feast on giant Bratwurst, or an exotic selection of ostrich and crocodile burgers (no lie!), macaroons from Italy, local fudge, and the very best cheeses. There’s also a Christmas Craft Market on the High Street from 11 – 23 December.
Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham, 4 Nov – 23 Dec
Pretzels, bratwursts and schnitzels washed down with steins of beer and mugs of steaming gluhwein – is it even Christmas until you’ve been to a German market? You can’t miss this one: it’s the largest outside of Germany and Austria, smack in the middle of Birmingham, and is generally blasting traditional Bavarian music. You can stock up on quirky gifts, glass baubles and wooden decorations — who are we kidding, though? We’re just there for the food, drink, and festive vibe.
Festive Fayre, Hampton Court Palace, 3-5 Dec
What royal surroundings for a market! Enjoy singalong festive classics from the East Front Bandstand, indulge in Christmas-style street food and festive drinks, and make plenty of time to browse the unique gift stalls.
Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market, Hants, 19 Nov – 22 Dec
Hampshire’s biggest and most atmospheric, German-style Christmas Market is back at Winchester Cathedral. Sip mulled wine and have a good old mooch around the alpine-style chalet stalls around the inner close.
Tewkesbury Christmas Market, Tewkesbury, Glos
Historic Tewkesbury is the backdrop for this Christmas market, which this year will be taking over parts of the High Street, Church Street and Barton Street. Filled with fairground rides , a performance stage, various activities and 100 Christmas market stalls, it’s one not to be missed. You’ll get the chance to feed reindeer, meet the cast of The Roses Pantomime who’ll be all dressed up, and there’s even free parking in town. A Christmas miracle!
Hertford Castle Christmas Market, Herts, 26 Nov and 27-28 Nov
For the first time, the grand Hertford Castle will be the backdrop for a Festive spectacular. The Castle Lawn will be filled with market stalls, festive entertainment and food to warm those cockles. And don’t miss the Christmas Gala on 26th where you can shop local ’til you drop in the town centre and soak up the atmosphere.
CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, 19 Nov – 3 Jan
Back for its 15th year, Winter Wonderland is more Christmas microcosm than market, but it has that too! Then once you’ve suitably shopped, sampled, and perused, you can head onto the fairground rides, ice sculpting workshops, Santa Land, and ice rink. New for this year is the obligation to book ahead which – fingers crossed – will reduce the mega crowds.
Winter Market, Southbank Centre, until 23 Dec
Wander along the Thames and revel in twinkling lights, indulgent street food, and giftable goodies. Tip: don’t miss the gooey fondue eaten out of transparent snow globes, from Jimmy’s Lodge. Insta-catnip!
Kingston Christmas Market, Kingston-upon-Thames, 18 Nov – 24 Dec
It’s the outskirts of London, but this European-style Christmas market makes Kingston well worth a visit. Thing hog rolls, twinkling lights, a vintage carousel, and gorgeous gifts to buy from Alpine cabins. See you there!