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Top UK Christmas markets and events 2018

Ready to start thinking about Christmas? It's time to start feeling festive so here is our annual list of the top festive markets, Christmas lights and other twinkly events from around the UK. 

Dive into Christmas like you mean it this year and visit one of these exciting yuletide events, while at the same time taking a pre-Christmas breather in an amazing UK forest. 

1. The Eden Project, Cornwall

Christmas at the Eden Project is bigger than ever this year. You can go ice skating, shop for special Christmas gifts and meet Father Christmas. Then, prepare yourself for the incredible Shadows and Light after-dark experience, an immersive light spectacular in the lush gardens of the huge biomes. After the show, it’s just a short drive back to your own lush habitat at Deerpark - where we’ve got the lights down low so you can see the night skies.

2. Blenheim Palace, Hampshire

A grand Christmas at Blenheim Palace kicks off with the Living Crafts for Christmas Fair, 15-18 November, where you can pick up some fabulous Christmas presents from over 180 designer-makers as you wander through the Churchill and Marlborough Pavilions.

From 23 November, the Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail creates a magical journey, the palace rooms are decorated for Cinderella – a Festive Fairy Tale Experience, and the Christmas Market in the Grand Court is open every day until 16 December for gifts, mulled wine and festive cheer.

Stay at Blackwood Forest and, if you want even more festive cheer, visit the famous Christmas Market at Winchester too.

3. Taurus Crafts, Forest of Dean

A more intimate yuletide market, with strong regional links, is held by Taurus Crafts at Lydney, in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, over the first three weekends in December. A showcase of local artistry and craftsmanship, it’s great for gifts that you won’t find anywhere else. Enjoy a satisfying afternoon here on a weekend break at Forest of Dean.

4. Bury St. Edmunds Christmas Fayre, Suffolk

Book a last-minute break at Thorpe Forest and you can catch the Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre, which runs 22 - 25 November. Set in the town’s beautiful Georgian streets, cathedral grounds and Abbey Gardens, it boasts over 300 stalls, Christmas cookery demonstrations and a fun fair. And if all gets a bit too festive, you can disappear into one of Bury St. Edmunds many welcoming hostelries. 

5. Ffestiniog Railway Santa Train, Snowdonia

Santa on a steam train - what’s not to like? Stay for a December weekend at our newest location, Beddgelert in Snowdonia, and delight the children with a trip on the Santa Train, which runs on 8/9. 15/16 and 22/23 December. The spectacular journey starts at Porthmadog and runs through the beautiful Aberglaslyn Pass to Beddgelert, where you are greeted by carol singers. Santa and his elves are handing out presents to all the good children, and back at Porthmadog, there’s a mince pie and a glass of sherry for the grown-ups too. Book now, as this is a popular event.

6. Rufford Abbey, Nottinghamshire

The clever people at Rufford Abbey have thought of everyone in the family this year – including the dog. The Christmas Weekend market on 25-26 November will keep the adults happy, with delicious food and drink (including a signature mulled wine) and the opportunity to buy some special gifts. Throughout December, you can treat the children to Breakfast with Santa, which, as well as Belgian Waffles with chocolate sauce, includes a present from the man in red himself.

And the dog? During December, there’s a chance for the most important member of the family to meet ‘Santa Paws’ and receive their very own doggy gift. 

Stay at nearby Sherwood Forest in one of our cosy pet-friendly cabins – the dog will love the underfloor heating.

7. Castle Howard, North Yorkshire

Castle Howard dons its Christmas finery from mid-November when the stately home is transformed into a magical evocation of Christmas past. With candlelight, crackling log fires and live yuletide music in the state rooms, and magnificence decorations (including a 25ft Christmas tree with 3,000 baubles in the Great Hall) Christmas is here. And so is Santa, Festive Afternoon Tea and some exceptional Christmas shopping.

Castle Howard is just 10 minutes’ drive from Cropton and Keldy, where you can light your own log fire in a Golden Oak cabin and relax after the excitement of the day.

8. Santa Express, North York Moors Railway

Santa is putting in some double shifts on our railways this year. If you can’t get to Beddgelert to see him, he’s going to be handing out gifts every weekend in December on the North York Moors Santa Express. Trains leave from Pickering, just a short drive from Cropton and Keldy.

9. Edinburgh, Scotland

We associate Edinburgh with Hogmanay, but it does Christmas rather well too. Although it’s a good drive from Strathyre, it’s well worth it for a day trip full of adventures. Explore the Christmas Market, thrill the kids with the Santa Land fairground rides, experience the amazing Silent Light Shows on George Street and get your skates at the ice rink in in St. Andrew’s Square.

10. Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow is hosting not one, but two major Christmas markets this year, and a host of smaller markets too. Gluhwein and German beer are being served in George Square, where over 50 stalls are spread out in the shadow of the stunning 5-metre Christmas tree. Over at St. Enoch Square, the Christmas Village is serving up a hog roast beside a huge German Windmill.

Stay at Ardgartan Argyll, so that you can escape the city before the evening crowds descend, and relax in a lochside hot tub beneath the starlit Scottish skies.

Book your winter midweek or weekend break with Forest Holidays to enjoy one of these special Christmas events. You can get your shopping in and capture the Christmas spirit early. 

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