• Holidays & short breaks in the UK's most beautiful forests

Top UK Christmas markets and lights 2017

Mulled wine, mince pies and sprigs of holly – we must be heading towards Christmas again! To help you find something different, we've put together our annual list of the top Christmas markets for an alternative Christmas shopping experience – and we've added a sprinkle of twinkling lights as well.

As you head towards to the festive season, let us put a spring in your step for it is the happiest time of the year! Why not get ready for the holidays by taking a little break in advance – giving you time to make the shopping into a fun, family event full of cheer at a festive Christmas market. Then, after taking in the sights of the best light displays across the UK, you can relax in your cosy cabin by a log fire, or watch the night sky put on a display of its own from your personal hot tub.

Sherwood Forest

Just a short way from your cabin at Sherwood Forest are the majestic grounds of Rufford Abbey, where you'll find an array of stalls selling delicious Christmas foods and gifts. The market is open 25-26 November.

Alternatively, put your skates on and have a family day out in Nottingham between 17 November and 31 December. After your spin around the largest outdoor ice rink in the Midlands, enjoy hot and spicy mulled wine as you browse 50 cabins of gifts and treats from local traders.

Deerpark

Making our list for another year is the Fowey Christmas Market. With over 10,000 visitors, you can see why it has the reputation for being one of the best in Cornwall. Don't miss the arrival of Father Christmas and the lantern parade on Friday 24 November, followed by the Christmas Lights switch on. With hog roasts, choirs, children's activities and Champagne, the market is a real family event, ending on Sunday with the Town Carol Service, and it's all conveniently close to Deerpark.

Thorpe Forest

Open from 23 to 26 November, Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre has over 300 stalls for the festive shopper and lots of fairground rides for the children. Wander around with your mug of hot chocolate, enjoying live music and entertainment on one of the three stages. Plus, don't miss this year's showcase – the ICE Cookery Theatre, featuring award-winning chefs. Then get back to your luxury cabin in nearby Thorpe Forest, and test out some of your new recipes and Christmas treats from the market stalls.

Forest of Dean

Taurus Crafts, close to Forest of Dean, hold a very special Christmas craft market over the first three weekends in December. Featuring local artisan and handmade products, with many unique gifts that you truly cannot find anywhere else, this is the best place to find presents for awkward uncles and people who have everything.

Blackwood Forest

If you just can't get enough of Christmas, Blackwood Forest is ideal, being close to markets at Winchester and Farnham, with the market at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth just a little further away. Farnham Christmas market opens on 10 December, with over 200 stalls. Make sure you remember your letter to Santa; the North Pole post box is waiting.

The Winchester Christmas Market is considered to be one of Europe's best. With over 100 wooden chalets set in magical surroundings, Winchester combines the traditional German market atmosphere with a quality selection of British crafts and gifts, decorations, toys and food. The market is open 20 November - 22 December.

Cropton & Keldy

In Yorkshire, enjoy a spectacular lantern parade and Christmas light display at Whitby as they celebrate the biggest festival yet on 17 - 19 November. 

Over in Otley, you can step back in time with the Otley Victorian Fayre on 3 December. For either of these events, stay at Cropton or Keldy so that you can enjoy your cosy cabin after a day's shopping.

Strathyre

Discover the history of some Christmas traditions at Stirling Castle's A Very Victorian Christmas on 3 December, or enjoy local crafts, gifts and victuals at the Christmas Fayre on 5 December.

Bring a Scottish theme to your home with tartan tree decorations and a lovely tartan fireside throw in the festive shop. Head back to your cabin at Strathyre to see just how cosy it is.

Ardgartan Argyll

Stay at Ardgartan Argyll for the Helensburgh Winter Festival on 2-3 December, where you can go ice skating, enjoy live entertainment and meet real reindeer! There are lots of stalls and local shops too, for your Christmas shopping.

Book your mid-week or weekend break to enjoy one of these Christmas markets and get your shopping in early so that you are all prepared and can relax when Christmas arrives. If you're just too busy for a pre-Christmas break, why not treat yourself to a cabin over Christmas itself, when we have some special breaks to choose from that will guarantee a magical experience.

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