18 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 ONE
Berkshire Christmas Festival
Where: Newbury Showground, Newbury
When: Sat 10 – Sun 11 Nov, 10am-4pm
What to expect: If you could bundle up Christmas into one neat package, this would be it. The Berkshire Christmas Festival has had every bauble, string of tinsel and fairrylight, thrown at it. I defy you not to be rocking round the Christmas Tree. There’s a circus, Santa, panto, Great British Bake Off 2017 star Julia Chernagorova, a Victorian Market featuring local food and drink producers and artisans, choirs, bell ringers and more more more. There’s even a Dog Show Christmas Pawty. It’s a one-stop festival of festive fun. Who needs the John Lewis Christmas ad, when you’ve got this. Tickets: £8; concessions £6, kids £4, Under 5s FREE.
The Prince’s Countryside Fund Racing Weekend & Christmas Shopping Fair
Where: Ascot Racecourse
When: Fri 23 Nov, 11am-4pm
What to expect: Giddee up to Ascot. Full bday of jump racing and Country Living Magazine’s Christmas Shopping Fair. Loads of indie pop ups offering seasonal goodies not available on the high street. A complimentary shop-and-drop service is available so you hit the bubbles. Well it is Christmas.
Douai Pavillion Christmas Market
Where: Douai Pavilion Upper Woolhampton
When: Sun 18 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 like Turtle Dove Living and Rosebourne, Lala and Bea, Cotton & Gems, BAE 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 17 – Sun 18 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: Highclere Castle
When: Wed 5 – Thu 6 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 check our the gallery and the bedrooms. Oh the temptation to dive onto the divan.
Pelican Christmas Fair
Where: The Vineyard Hotel Stockcross
When: 3 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 10 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 25 Nov and Sun 9 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…
Where: Norden Farm, Maidenhead
When: Sat 17 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.
St Andrews Winter Market
Where: St Andrew’s Church, Mill Lane Windsor
When: Sat 1 Dec, 11am-3pm
What to expect: A Christmas market iPad-smashing Kirsty Allsopp would be fully on board for it’s simplicity and Christmassy vibes. Tour the church Bell Tower, stuff you face on homemade cake and mulled wine and snap up the handmade booty. Best of all, you can order your Christmas tree for delivery! It’s like starring in your very own Richard Curtis movie.
Blenheim Palace Christmas Market, Oxon
When: Fri 23 Nov – Sun 16 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 this year the palace adds a Christmas market to 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.
Birmingham German Christmas Market
When: Thu 15 Nov – Sun 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. There’s also a slightly seedy singing Santa (apparently a German pop star). Let me know if you spot him, he’s always good value.
Southbank Centre Winter Festival, London
When: Sat 8 Dec – Sun 6 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 Rumpelstiltskein, workshops, performances and other family-orientated fun.
Bath Christmas Market, Somerset
When: Thu 22 Nov – Sun 9 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 enjoy on the stalls were businesses from Bath and the South West, selling gifts, artisan food and drink, jewellery and lots more. #supportlocal
Essex Christmas Festival
When: Sat 17 – Sun 18 Nov
What to expect: They’ve thrown everything at this festival, including Mother Christmas’s kitchen sink. Shop ’til you drop in Colchester, visit the circus, Santa, meet reindeer, cookery demos from GBBO and Masterchef stars plus there is Christmas Party your bow-wow bestie. Entry £4-£8. Under 5s free.
Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre, Shrops
When: Sat 24 – Sun 25 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.