20 fab Xmas fairs and markets
Before we hit the parties and panto, get into the Crimbo spirit with a mulled wine, minced pie and Muddy's pick of the festive markets and fairs.
It’s Christmaaaaaaaaassss! OK, not quite, but the wish lists for Santa are being written and some of us *coughs* are already mainlining mince pies with a Baileys chaser. But before we get to Christmas parties, carol services and panto, it’s all about festive fairs and markets. Here’s our guide to the best in Berkshire and beyond.
THE BIG ONES
Ascot Christmas Shopping Fair
Where: Ascot Racecourse
When: Thu 28 Nov – Sun 1 Dec, 11am-4pm
What to expect: Giddee up to Ascot and nail your Crimbo shopping in one go. Loads of indie pop ups offering seasonal goodies not available on the high street. a staggering 150 pop-up boutiques selling gifts, homewares, toys, Xmas decs, fashion, stocking fillers, foodie treats and more. Shop hit the bubbles and relax. Well it is Christmas.
Christmas Country Home & Interiors Fair
Where: Stonor Park, Henley
When: Thu 21 Nov – Sun 24 Nov, 10am-4pm
What to expect: A Christmas Fair with a side order of period drama. Stonor is once again hosting the Country Home and Interiors Show in stylish marquees in the grounds. More than 100 sellers of crafts, lifestyle products, gifts and homewares will be tempting you with their wares, plus there will be demos from new country businesses. A great opportunity to get your Christmas list ticked off in style.
Douai Pavillion Christmas Market
Where: Douai Pavilion Upper Woolhampton
When: Sun 17 Nov, 10am-7pm
What to expect: Save yourself the airfare to Europe and body swerve the crowds at Winchester Cathedral, a brand spanking new Christmas market is coming to West Berkshire. The Douai Pavillion – in the stunning location of Upper Woolhampton – will be turned into an alpine marketplace with mini chalets popping up with gifts galore from cool local indies, plush food hampers, Xmas trees and more. Grab yourself a mulled wine, pop a mince pie in your mouth and sit yourself on Santa’s knee (yes, there’s a grotto), its going to be a cracker. Free entry.
Windsor Christmas Fair
Where: Windsor Racecourse
When: Sat 16 – Sun 17 Nov
What to expect: Did someone say samples? Cue a Muddy stampede. Christmas foodie and drinkie delights with lots of tasters to get you in the mood. There’s also gifts galore.
Where: Pangbourne College, Pangbourne
When: Sat 16 Nov, 10.30am-2.30pm
What to expect: A family friendly Christmas market with all a traditional raffle tombola and raffle – but with posh prizes. Plus there’s artisan vibe with crafts, gifts and food stalls aplenty. Plus there’s the chance to win a wheelbarrow filled with wine! Pass me a straw and race your to the win.
Where: Highclere Castle
When: Wed 4 – Thu 5 Dec, 9.30am-4.30pm
What to expect: Christmas at Downton, I mean Highclere. Frock up we’re off to impress Lord and Lady Carnavon at their annual Christmas Fair. Carols in the Saloon, enormous tree, handpicked gifts to buy in the State Rooms. You can expect the same at Muddy Berks HQ. It’s grandeur all the way, baby. It’s all In aid of charidee – Thames Valley Air Ambulance and St Michaels & All Angels Church, Highclere – and if you throw a few quid in the bucket you snoop around the gallery and bedrooms. Oh the temptation to dive onto the divan.
Pelican Christmas Fair
Where: The Vineyard Hotel Stockcross
When: Mon 2 Dec
What to expect: It’s all in the name of charidee, mate. So The Vineyard is transformed into a winter wonderland with stalls selling luxury gifts, stylish accessories, handmade edible goodies and more.Entry is free and a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Pelican Cancer Foundation.
SHOP TIL YOU DROP
Where: St Andrew’s School, Pangbourne
When: Sat 2 Nov, 10am-4pm
What to expect: Not on the high street? You’re nowhere near one and and I’m loving it. No expensive parking, plenty of little people to carry your bags (err, maybe not) but there will be over 50 stalls popping up at St Andrew’s School near Pangbourne for a shopping frenzy. Whatever you’re after, you’ll find it here: arty-crafty bits, homewares, bling, cards, clothing, toys, decs, food and drink, skincare and many more! If only they had a wrapping station… I’d be in nirvana.
Newbury Artisan Christmas Market
When: Sun 24 Nov and Sun 8 Dec, 10am-4pm
Where: Newbury Town Centre
What to expect: Quality produce, original art, designer crafts & sizzling street food, all mixed in with family activities, music and more…
Wellington Christmas Market
When: Thu 21 Nov
Where: Wellington Farm Shop, Hook
What to expect: All your foodie Christmases have come at once. Head to Wellington Farm Shop and hoover up all the samples, meet their artisan producers, and knock back mulled wine and mince pies. Yum.
Where: Norden Farm, Maidenhead
When: Fri 15 – Sat 16 Nov, 10am-3pm
What to expect: If you’re on the hunt for arty crafty, meaningful gifts this year, Norden Farm’s Artisan Market is the perfect pitstop. Local artists and artisans will be selling their handmade gifts in the 18th century Long Barn. You’ll find jewellery, ceramics, glassware, decorations, candles, textile gifts and more! Mulled wine and festive flavoured coffee on tap. Free entry.
Christmas Gift Fair and Kids’ Party
Where: Shaw House, Newbury
When: Sat 1 Dec, 11am-4pm
What to expect: If you’re craftier than Kirsty Allsopp at Christmas, but lack the skill or inclination to pull it off, then head to the Shaw House gift fair. More than 60 amazing elves will be selling unique, homemade gifts that can’t be found on the high street. The best bit? Book the kids in for the Christmas party and shop in peace. Plus there’s a Living Nativity and copious amounts of milled wine.
Blenheim Palace Christmas Market, Oxon
When: Fri 22 Nov – Sun 15 Dec
What to expect: Blenheim Palace is extra in every sense of the word – especially at Christmas. The Illuminated Winter Trail is always a, quite literal, highlight, as the spectacular grounds are lit up with lasers, projections, and thousands of lights. But the Christmas Market (22Nov-15 Dec) and Living Crafts Fair (14-17 Nov) complete its yuletide offering, with wooden chalets selling a hand-picked curation of gifts – from ceramics and textiles, to accessories, toys and food.
Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market, Hants
When: Sat 17 Nov – Thu 20 Dec
What to expect: Bustling German-themed Christmas market, which is often recognised as one of the best in Europe. There will be over 100 chalets to explore with festive foods, decorations, plenty of gifts and an open-air ice rink.
Waddesdon Manor Christmas Market, Bucks
When: Sat 10 Nov – Sat 15 Dec
What to expect: They love a bit of arty drama over the border, and Waddesden is not to be outdone by Blenheim. Stunning manor house, mahoosive tree, light show and 80 hand-selected exhibitors standing to attention in their charming wooden chalets.
Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre
Where: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey
When: Fri 6 – Sun 9 Dec (Fri and Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-4.30)
What to expect: Eat, drink and be merry at Henry’s old house as the palace courtyards are transformed into a festive food-lovers wonderland for Christmas. There will be live cooking demonstrations in the kitchen, carols from local choirs and music. Entry included in palace admission, £21.30 adults, £10.70 children.
Birmingham German Christmas Market
When: Thu 7 Nov – Mon 23 Dec
What to expect: It’s all very German – heavy on the beer and sausage. A whopping 5million people visited last year, it sprawls out along New Street and in Victoria Square and features an ice rink and big wheel. Sadly the slightly seedy singing Santa has retired his red fur-trimmed coat. Let me know if you spot his replacement.
Southbank Centre Winter Festival, London
When: Fri 8 Nov – Sun 5 Jan
What to expect: As well as purchasing Christmas produce, artisan treats and other goodies from the Nordic-themed chalets, visitors are in for a treat with Christmas shows, including Circus 1907 and Black Beauty, workshops, performances and other family-orientated fun.
Bath Christmas Market, Somerset
When: Thu 28 Nov – Sun 15 Dec
What to expect: Voted No1 UK Christmas Market in 2017, this market is set amongst the Bath’s Georgian splendour. A whopping 87 per cent of the stalls are businesses from Bath and the South West, selling gifts, artisan food and drink, jewellery and lots more. And you know how much we’re #inlovewithlocal.
Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre, Shrops
When: Sat 23 – Sun 24 Nov
What to expect: If you love a road trip, this could be up your street and there will be no huffing and puffing around this one with the kids. It’s a traditional market held in the grounds of Ludlow Castle, offering all the usual gifts and foodie stuff. But there will also be fighting knights, archery and sword fighting. It’s one way to sort out squabbling.