With Christmas around the corner, many of us have had a chance to explore the wonderful Christmas markets and displays around the country, now if you want to be a little bit more adventurous than just seeing the Leamington Spa Christmas Market, here is a guide to some of the other Christmas markets in the country that our writers have had a chance to visit to get their festive spirits rising.
Starting off a little closer to home, we have the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, taking place from mid-November until late December, this is the largest authentic Christmas Market outside of Germany and Austria, so it is no surprise that it attracts the crowds on mass! The atmosphere of the city centre is absolutely stunning, with Birmingham transformed by the decorations, lights and Christmas trees spread across buildings and streets. The market itself has around 80 decorated stalls which cater everything you may need.
There is plenty of traditional German cuisine to try, including hot pretzels, bratwursts (traditional German Sausages) and schnitzel, alongside a variety of other hot foods, to keep you well fed. If you have more of a sweet tooth, you’re in for a treat, with an assortment of stalls selling fresh crepes, chocolate fruit skewers, sweets, donuts and chocolates.
This is the perfect place for alcohol, music and lively atmosphere, with outdoor seating arrangements spread across the entire site
Looking for more of a drinking session? This is the perfect place for alcohol, music and lively atmosphere, with outdoor seating arrangements spread across the entire site. Gluhwein (mulled wine), Weissbeer and Jägermeister are just some of the customary national beverages to try, but spirits, ciders, wines and soft drinks are also sold too. Top tip would be to make sure to keep hold of your tokens given too you with your customised glasses. If you trade them back in when you take your glass back to the bar you get money back, or likewise you can keep hold of your glass for memorabilia.
Festive music is played from open until close and often on weekends live singers and bands can be found on the main stage. There is plenty of shopping to do as well, so why not kill two birds with one stone and get your Christmas shopping done, with dozens of stalls selling lots of gifts, crafts and souvenirs. Many people are fooled into thinking this isn’t the best place to take children, however, if you don’t mind crowds, there are plenty of attractions for youngsters too. Back by popular demand, the temporary ice rink with an adjoining bar is available, as well as other attractions including a traditional carousel. Both can be for big kids too!
What is brilliant about the Birmingham Christmas Markets is that it is open everyday from 10am until 9pm, so you are not restricted on availability. Located in Victoria Square, it is about a three-minute walk from New Street Station, so transport could not be easier. Running right up until 23 December, this unmissable event must have a place in your diaries this year. If you’re looking for those Instagram-worthy pictures, a night out with mates or a cute date, the markets are perfect for everyone. And the best thing about it is that it has free entry!
Next, we have Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland, less than two hours away if you catch a train from Leamington spa, which although might seem far especially with Birmingham just around the corner, the Nottingham Winter Wonderland may be one of the best Christmas markets I have seen this year. Not only is Nottingham a beautiful city on its own, the Christmas Market is absolutely huge and filled with an array of attractions from the usual food stalls to enrich our festive taste buds to lots of different kinds of rides and attractions such as the Helter Skelter, Tobogan Slide and the traditional Carousel, which I must confess I had a go myself as it was was so beautifully lit up, and a really warming experience for my friends and I.
People could enjoy traditional Czech drinks while listening along to the karaoke, or even admiring the beautiful Christmas decorations, and of course the Christmas tree in the centre
What made the atmosphere really special for me was the live music and karaoke that was playing, friends seemed to be going on stage and having a laugh singing with their friends while people stood and watched them from outside the Sur La Piste, a bar and entertainment programme on the far end of the market. People could enjoy traditional Czech drinks while listening along to the karaoke, or even admiring the beautiful Christmas decorations, and of course the Christmas tree in the centre. This was next to the ice rink, which although we didn’t get to try out for ourselves, looked pack with people enjoying themselves and mostly falling over.
The market just had so much to offer with beautiful lights, delicious foods, and as it was located in the city centre, you could also treat yourself to some of the shops that surrounded it or even go for a drink at the Alchemist, if you hadn’t had enough from the Altitude bar and Ice bar in the market, which was only around the corner. My friends and I fit in plenty of time to explore the shops and even the arcade which was about a 10 minutes walk from the market in the entertainment complex, I have also been told that there is a cat cafe and a mini golf place nearby!
Venturing even further, we have Manchester’s Christmas Market. With locations across the city centre, Manchester’s Christmas Markets offer both the traditional Bratwurst and crepe stalls, but also a range of other foods catering to any diet and taste, I particularly liked the look of the Northern Grilled Cheese. The main market is in Albert Square, under the shadow of the magnificent Town Hall, which was unfortunately closed for restorations until 2024.
An illuminated Santa presided over an array of baubles and colourful water fountains
However, walking around the city you will see many other little markets. After seeing these, I was strolling around looking for more Christmas-themed delights, when I stumbled across Lightopia, a light festival in Heaton Park. Entry to this is £18, so if you’re like me and feeling the effects of Christmas present buying, it may feel unattainable. However, there are small scale Christmas light sculptures that are free to see around the city. In particular, I went to the one in Piccadilly Gardens, where an illuminated Santa presided over an array of baubles and colourful water fountains. These are perfect for snapping a few aesthetically pleasing photos and getting into the Christmas spirit!
Finally, as I am sure many of you have been or are planning to visit, I went to the famous Winter Wonderland in London. Located in the beautiful and expansive Hyde Park, London’s Winter Wonderland is a Christmas attraction not to be missed! Entry is free but the attractions are at a fee.
However, even if you’re feeling the student life attacking your current account, it is worth visiting just to walk around and take in all of the attractions, market stalls and general festivities. Personally, I only went on one attraction and that was the Ferris Wheel. At £8 per student, this was quite an expensive choice; however, it was totally worth it when we reached the top and had views all over the park and London, especially when you compare it to the Coca-Cola London Eye, which costs upwards of £27.
There are many other things to do as well, with delicious foods, exciting roller-coasters and fairground games which not only makes it an incredible day out no matter who you go with, but is also one of the go-to places in the country at this time of year. Everyone is just as excited and in the festive spirit so make sure you go see it before 5 January before it packs up for another year!