Forest Holidays

Top UK Christmas markets and events

Capture the festive feeling

Ruth Sneddon

Forestipedia writer | Helping you to discover the best places on your travels

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 Lights and Lanterns 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 cosy cabin at Deerpark - where we’ve got the lights down low so you can see the night skies.

Ice rink at Eden Project

The Eden Project Ice rink

2. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

A grand Christmas at Blenheim Palace kicks off with the Living Crafts for Christmas Fair, 14-17 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 22 November, the Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail creates a magical journey, and the palace rooms are decorated in an Alice in the Palace theme with a whimsical topsy-turvy wonderland, and the Christmas Market in the Grand Court is open every day until 15 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.

Couple at Blenheim Palace Christmas market

Blenheim Palace magical Christmas markets

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. 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.

Taurus Craft's Christmas markets banner

Taurus Crafts Christmas market banner

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 21 - 24 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. 

Christmas markets at Bury St Edmunds

Twinkling lights at Bury St. Edmunds Christmas fayre

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 7/8, 14/15 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.

People waiting to board the Santa train

Ffestiniog Railway Santa train, Snowdonia

6. Rufford Abbey, Nottinghamshire

The clever people at Rufford Abbey have thought of everyone in the family this year. The Christmas Weekend market on 23-24 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.

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

Rufford Abbey Christmas banner

Rufford Abbey Christmas weekend banner

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.

Festive afternoon tea at Castle Howard

Festive afternoon tea at Castle Howard, North Yorkshire

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.

Father Christmas aboard a train

Santa warming up on Santa Express

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 Markets, thrill the kids with the Santa Land fairground rides, experience the amazing Light Night shows on George Street and get your skates at the ice rink in in St. Andrew’s Square.

Light night experience

Light night

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.

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.

Food market at Glasgow Christmas market

Glasgow Christmas markets

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.