It’s the season of festive markets and the heralding of Christmas seeping into our daily lives – so I’ve prepared a post on one of my favourite things about the season. The markets. Yorkshire boasts some of the most wonderful Christmas markets in the UK and they’re sure not to disappoint anyone searching for the Christmas spirit. That said, if you’re a bit of a Scrooge then I’m sure the promise of delicious food and scrumptious beverages will be just as welcome!
Christmas markets are a wonderful little thing, filling our towns with the hum of carols and the scent of mulled spice to really bring the festive season home. Usually setting up in November, it’s well worth taking some time to visit and having a look around the wide array of food, drinks and handmade gifts. Why not red on to read some of my top tips for visiting a Christmas market, and which ones you should be visiting in Yorkshire this year!
Eight tips for visiting a Christmas market and making the most of a visit
Dress for the occasion
It’s a winter market – scarves, gloves (fingerless gloves are a bonus!) and thick coats are a must. Dress for the weather and don’t underestimate how quickly the British weather can punish those who underestimate it. I had a thick knit bobble hat and a Regatta winter coat which is wind proof and I still found it very chilly. Make sure you have shoes that reflect the weather too – nobody wears tottering heels to a Christmas market, and if they do I promise you they’ll regret it rather quickly!
If you have little ones with you, a snow suit is an essential for those in prams or strollers as they don’t walk around to warm themselves up. If it’s night when you visit with a little one, a muff or blanket would be advised.
Carry cash – but carry it safely
While we do live in a world ruled by plastic, it’s probably best to make sure you have cash on your person when visiting a Christmas market. Some stall holders don’t have the means to process card payments, and it’s a place you don’t want to have to hunt around for a cash machine!
Obviously when you’re carrying cash, make sure it’s tucked away out of reach. Sadly the hustle and bustle of a Christmas market does bring out the worst in people, and pockets are an easy target. Phones and cash are the most desirable items for pick pockets to target so don’t let them ruin your Christmas!
Visit during the day for a quiet experience, but don’t miss out on the festive nightlife
I have a toddler, so visiting at night isn’t really an option for me – but for those who can, it’s well worth the visit. Bundled up on a date night with your significant other, cuddling over a mug of mulled wine? It sounds perfect!
(Obviously visiting at night means the atmosphere will be much jollier – something to keep in mind if you prefer less inebriated crowds. Visit during the day and enjoy a browse around the stalls and a bite to eat instead.)
Visit in November instead of December for a quieter visit
Visiting in November means you miss the bustle of the December festivities – and you get to browse at your own leisure. We visited the day Manchester markets opened and had a blast, it got busier the later the day got but when we arrived and had a bite to eat it was perfect.
Have something to eat (or drink!)
The smell is amazing as you wander around, and each market usually has a selection of cuisine from around the world – from Indian street food, to traditional German sausages there really is something for everyone to enjoy. I couldn’t resist a fresh Bratwurst cooked over coals and served in a warm crusty roll – perfect.
As well as the enticing scent of food swirling around the market, the spicy comforting scent of mulled alcohol makes you feel wonderfully festive. From warm ginger and Prosecco cocktails to traditional mulled gluhwein, there’s something to warm everyone’s cockles through on a chilly winters night.
For those indulging in a festive beverage – a fee may be charged to ‘loan’ you the mug or glass you’re drinking from, as usually people take them as a trinket to remember their night. This can vary from something between £3 and £8 depending!
Make sure you know the dates and locations of the markets
If you’re visiting a new city, it’s well worth make sure you have the markets location saved somewhere you can easily access. I try make sure I have directions saved on Google maps, although on busier evenings a printed sheet might work better if you’re alone and don’t want to get your phone out for long periods.
Check transport links
It’s often easier to take public transport to the markets as parking might be an issue – make sure you double check all your transport links. Sometimes the market might be tucked away in a part of the city that isn’t covered easily by rail, and a tram or bus might be necessary.
Sometimes you just need to leave your diets at the door and enjoy yourself – don’t be afraid to try new things, or have a treat.
Christmas markets in Yorkshire you cannot miss!
Yorkshire at Christmas is absolutely stunning, and not to be missed. Whether it’s strolling down the shambles at dusk or having a day strolling the festive markets the atmosphere is incredible – so I’m going to share ten of the best markets to visit in Yorkshire this festive season.
Grassington Dickensian Festival & Christmas Market – November 30th until December 1st & December 7th – December 8th, Grassington.
This festive favourite will be kicked off with the Town Crier announcing the start of the festival on November 30th. Grassington herself has been taken back in time to celebrate the festive period in the style of Charles Dickens this year and the whole village will be buzzing with entertainment. From Victorian street entertainers to busters, there will also be a host of stall holders in the market square for what promises to be a stunning celebration of Christmas.
Harrogate Christmas Market – November 14th until November 17th, Montpellier Quarter Harrogate.
The Montpellier Quarter will be transformed into a festive wonderland for the annual Christmas market. From cheeses to handmade Christmas decorations, nearly 200 stalls can be found filled with Yorkshire produce. The markets open on the 14th of November and a light switch on show will be taking place between 4pm and 6pm followed by a carol service to welcome in the festive spirit.
Knaresborough Christmas Market – December 7th until December 8th, Knaresborough
An annual event, a huge number of stall holders descend onto this historic Yorkshire town to bring some festive magic. The weekend also coincides with a Christmas tree festival taking place at St Johns Church, and some Christmas events taking place at Mother Shipton’s Cave. Those who visit on the Sunday can enjoy the fantastic firework finale that has been organised to round off the wonderful weekend.
Malton Christmas Food Market – December 7th until December 8th, Malton.
Malton hosts an extensive seasonal festival with some of the best local produce from Yorkshire, in a festive food Fantasia. Taking place in the market place and at the Milton Rooms, be prepared for a whole range of festive treats from figgy puddings to freshly roasted chestnuts!
The St Nicolas Christmas Fair – November 14th until December 22nd, York.
York is hosting the Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village as well as a huge variety of stall holders who will be set up on Parliament Street. The Shambles will be hosting plenty of seasonal treats in their own Food Court. Described by Yorkshire Life magazine as a ‘cornucopia of seasonal treats’ it isn’t to be missed.
To be confirmed.
Sheffield Christmas Market – November 14th until Christmas Eve (December 24th), Sheffield.
Fargate, Townhall Square and Peace Gardens are hosting a Christmas fair which started as a handful of stalls. Now an anticipated annual event, over 50 stalls will be available for you to browse as well as a giant big wheel and The Alpine Bar!
Leeds – November 8th until December 21st at Millenium Square, Leeds.
Leeds is hosting its festive light switch on to mark the start of the ‘Make it Leeds this Christmas’ campaign which features a whole range of Christmas activities and events around the district. The annual Christkindelmarkt will take its place in Millenium Square and transform the popular landmark into a winter village in order to host the most established German market in the UK.
The Otley Victorian Fayre – December 1st, Otley
Another fayre paying homage to the Victorians, Otley gets taken back to the times of the Charles Dickens classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ in this day long celebration. Period dress, performances and of course a market full of stall holders selling festive wares await those who visit on December the 1st.