Nothing says Christmas quite like wrapping your hands around a warm mug of mulled wine under the twinkling fairy lights of a festive market
Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, has found that more than six in 10 travellers say they pick a destination for its great food or drink, so why not plan a fun-filled festive getaway this year? Christmas markets not only offer gorgeous seasonal food and drink, but also the chance to pick up unusual and quirky Christmas gifts while taking in the sights and sounds guaranteed to fill you with Christmas cheer.
Looking for recommendations? Here’s the pick of the top 6 locations from Booking.com, along with nearby accommodation.
Grabbing the top spot is the Manchester Christmas markets, famed for its shimmering Santa Claus. This year will be the last time the market graces Albert Square for at least the next four years. The stalls are bustling with gift ideas and culinary delicacies – guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. Once you’ve shopped for homemade crafts, toys, gifts and garments, why not treat yourself to a traditional bratwurst, Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella or a good old-fashioned hog roast? The market is open between November 9 and December 22, with the main market in Albert Square opening for an extra day on Sunday December 23.
Where to stay: When you’ve had your fill of mulled wine and decadent hot chocolates, head back to the chic and modern Urbana Apartments. Situated in the trendy Northern Quarter, and offering city views, guests will love this apartment’s convenient location – close to all of the nightlife, music and bars that Manchester has to offer.
Set next to Winchester’s breathtaking cathedral, and in the heart of the bustling city, is the Winchester Christmas Markets. This is the perfect event to take in the local architecture and history – whilst getting ready for the most wonderful time of the year. Inspired by traditional German markets, the pretty wooden chalets, enchanting nativity scene and open-air ice rink make for the perfect family day out. Visit between Saturday November 17 and Thursday December 20, 2018.
Where to stay: The King Alfred Pub is just a short walk away from Winchester’s city centre and the train station, with trains from London just one hour away – making it a great option for a cosy winter weekend staycation. Guests will love the accommodation’s local amenities, modern comforts and high-quality accommodation.
Between Thursday December 6 and Sunday December 9, visitors and locals can enjoy everything the dazzling Lincoln Christmas markets have to offer. Set in the heart of the medieval city, the historic and enchanting gothic cathedral makes the perfect backdrop to the 200 stalls there are to explore – offering everything from handmade presents, to hand poured candles, to hand crafted wooden toys and locally created art, as well as excellent fresh produce from the local area.
Where to stay: Grayz Apartments located in the heart of Lincoln’s medieval city, are just a five-minute walk from the castle and cathedral, and a short stroll away from ‘Britain’s best street’ – Steep Hill. Guests will love this accommodation’s self-catering facilities, and its local attractions which include the Medieval Bishop’s Palace and the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, with many cafés, restaurants and boutique shops lining the city’s cobbled streets also just a short walk away.
Bury St Edmunds
For four days only between November 22-25, the centre of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk transforms into a festive fete with the opening of their annual Christmas markets. With an abundance of family entertainment and stalls selling arts, crafts and delicious food from the UK and mainland Europe – this is a great place to visit in the lead up to festive celebrations.
Where to stay: After an evening exploring all of the culinary delights the Christmas market has to offer, settle down for the night at The Northgate. This stylish property is located just a short walk to the Abbey Gardens and is noted for its gorgeous décor, great breakfast offerings and fantastic service.
Having run for over 15 years, Birmingham Christmas Market opens up to the public between November 15 and December 23, with stalls scattered around the Victoria Square and New Street areas. If you’re looking for the ultimate German market experience, this is the place to visit, due to its close ties with Frankfurt, with pretzels, schnitzels, bratwursts and roasted almonds, as well as glühwein, weissbeer, or hot chocolate all there to tempt your taste buds.
Where to stay: Located in Birmingham’s city centre, the Staybridge Suites Birmingham offers fantastic access to everything this vibrant city has to offer. With a buffet breakfast on offer each morning and a 24-hours onsite fitness room, this accommodation caters for all travellers, with treadmills, rowers and bikes all accessible to guests – perfect for burning those excess calories! The Bullring Shopping Centre is just a five-minute walk away, and a wide variety of nightlife and places to eat nearby.
East Princes Street Gardens in the heart of the city of Edinburgh will be turned into a winter wonderland from November 17 to January 5, 2019 (closed Christmas Day). The stunning location offers a traditional and romantic setting for this festive market. As well as stalls offering food, drink and gifts, there’s plenty of fairground rides to keep the whole family entertained. The big wheel is a must, offering panoramic views of the city, while the younder members of the family can head to Sana Land for fun rides, or to visit Santa’s Grotto to meet the man himself! Or why not head to St Andrew Square, a short distance away, and have a gentle glide round the outdoor ice rink? Easting out in Edinburgh will have you spoiled for choice, with everything from Scottish delicacies to tapas, Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern food. If you feel like really treating yourself, book in at Number One at The Balmoral, a Michelin-starred restaurant using the finest and freshest Scottish ingredients.
Where to stay: Situated in Cannongate, Old Town, Aparthotel Adagio Edinburgh Royal Mile is close to Edinburgh Festival Theatre and the heart of the city, only 10 minutes walk from Waverley station. Each apartment includes a kitchenette with a coffee maker, kettle, crockery and kitchen utensils. The Old Town is a great choice for travellers interested in exploring history and architecture, and Edinburgh Castle is less than a mile away and well worth a visit.