Christmas markets started out in German-speaking Europe in the late Middle Ages. One of the oldest, Dreden’s Striezelmarkt, began life as a one-day street market in 1434 selling meat for Christmas. Now it is a month-long street food extravaganza, with merry-go-rounds, Christmas decorations and festive crafts as well as gingerbread, stollen and mulled wine.
Happily, Christmas fairs have found their way to Britain’s shores and are growing in popularity year on year. Birmingham boasts the largest outside Germany and Austria and is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2016 by running right through to 29th December.
Manchester also holds one of the biggest and longest UK Christmas markets, with around 300 stalls of festive food, drink and gifts enlivening the city centre for a whole six weeks. The popular Edinburgh Christmas spectacular includes a Scottish market until Christmas Eve and a European market running right the way through until January, as well as ice skating and fairground rides. Meanwhile, Cardiff has the distinction of having one of the fastest-growing Christmas markets in the country.
There’s also a whole host of smaller ones all around the country, so don your Christmas jumper, pull on a bobble hat, and head to a festive fair near you.