UK & London Christmas Markets: Let the Festivities Begin!

Cities come alive in December with the many colourful Christmas markets. The wooden stalls, twinkling fairy lights and delicious aromas of steaming hot chocolate, coffees brewing, sweet ginger biscuits, or roasted chestnuts and gluhwein, pull us in and make the season emotional, romantic and in general, we feel exited and happy to be alive.

Trafalgar Square – Photograph by Jim Crossley

Most of our Christmas markets appear only for the season, but there are the perennial favourites that only have to change outfits to become festive. The best of these has to be Borough Market: the market lovers market, the absolute foodies market – the one that is the ‘up yours’ of all critics of British food (and where we get lots of our inspiration for our diet food delivery meals)! Others such as Spitalfields, St Katherine’s Dock and The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland to name but a few also dazzle with the array of food, drink and gifts on offer.

Borough Market – Photograph byNicola

Borough Market is one of the best London Christmas markets to get yummy seasonal and festive food. It is always absolutely packed to the gunnels and even if it’s only food you can think of, once you arrive and can focus, the setting is authentic – and rightly so considering it dates back to Roman times. It nestles right on the banks of the Thames with columns overhead and original cobbles underfoot, so you are richly rewarded on all fronts. If you’re spending Christmas with friends and they are providing the fare, this is the place to buy your gorgeous foodie gifts. Just buy two of everything – one for them and one for you – so you don’t get jealous!

Getting you in the mood for Christmas 2010, several live Christmas performances will be taking place during December, as well as an evening showcasing the huge range of cheeses available at the market from 4pm – 8pm on Wednesday 15th December. Many charities and local schools will be singing festive songs throughout the month, creating a wonderfully spirited atmosphere for all the Borough Market shoppers.

Birmingham Christmas Market – Photograph by Paul Englefield

The Christmas Market in Birmingham has become a huge favourite with both residents and visitors to the city from all over the UK and Europe. It is now the largest outdoor Christmas market in the country. This promises so much to the shopper that it would be worth making a special trip to see, and possibly staying over for a couple of days to take it all in. The great thing about shopping at Christmas markets is that you are guaranteed to find gifts that are unique, from handmade toys, Christmas decorations, original jewellery and craft goods. The Craft Fair runs at the same time, and is staged in Chamberlain Square, right next to Victoria Square. As ever, there will be carolling and mince pies, lots of fragrant hot drinks of the alcoholic variety and the feel good vibe that this type of Christmas market offers will be a welcome respite from the stresses of the year. Just remember to take flat shoes and lots of money. This market runs 18th November – 23rd December 2010.

Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market – Photograph by Dan Goodwin

The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market was founded in 2006, and is now recognised as one of the best in Europe, renowned for its unique location, high quality exhibitors and bustling atmosphere. Wonderful Christmas gifts, decorations and festive foods can be found in abundance.

This market is inspired by traditional German Christmas markets and manages to attract more than 350,000 visitors each year. The quaint wooden chalets are situated in the Cathedral’s historic Inner Close and surround an open-air ice rink. This scene is as old and as nostalgic as the season gets. The Cathedral itself provides a stunning and historic backdrop to the festivities. It is patently clear that the British, although thoroughly modern, still love shopping in the traditional sense and are more than capable of making an occasion of it. This market is well worth a special journey if you are prepared to travel.

And now for something a little special for all those chocolate lovers out there…

The Chocolate Festival – London’s South Bank. As if there isn’t enough to keep us busy with the lead up to Christmas, and not enough food to keep us quiet! Chocolate lovers everywhere will be happy to know that there is something especially for them from Friday 10th December until Sunday 12th December. You will be able to attend chocolate making workshops and demonstrations, dip into a chocolate fountain and witness master chocolatiers displaying their talents. This is a perfect distraction from Oxford Street shopping, and will satisfy your need not only to eat, but create and shop as well. Lots of perfect gifts are bound to be on offer. This is a must for all the family, of whom at least 90% must surely be chocoholics!

We would love to hear what Christmas markets are your favourites and what treats you found, plus any seasonal recommendations for our diet food delivery dishes. Leave us a comment below.