Exploring Christmas Markets

One thing that is becoming a bit of a tradition at this time of year for our family is going to explore various Christmas markets. I went to University in Leeds back in the day, and that was one of the first festive markets I knew about, known as ‘the German market.’ Full of all things festive, cinnamon spiced, sparkly, and cute, I knew it was something that I wanted to go and do each year.

After moving south though, Leeds was more of a rare option if we were up north visiting family. Rochester, Canterbury,  and the London options (like Winter Wonderland and the market at the Southbank) are all options for us now and ones that we have been to before. But now that my family have moved down south, it gives us chance to visit new areas, as my parents have moved to a few miles out of Bath, meaning road trips over are going to be a regular thing at this time of year.

Sadly, the Bath market isn’t running anymore (the last day was on Sunday), but here are some of the highlights if you’re looking to go for next year – it really is one of the UK’s best, and in such a beautiful setting as the city of Bath is so stunning.

When is the best time to visit?

As you might imagine, weekends and over lunchtimes are the busiest times to visit; Bath is a busy city after all. Having said that, the market does start pretty early on. For example, this year it started on 22nd November, so although you might not be feeling too Christmassy then, it is going toe quieter than it was last weekend, I’d imagine.

Where is the market located?

The Market is all  outdoors right in he centre of the city. The beautiful Georgian streets make it a great location and it does help to make you feel all the more festive. The location is close to Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths and the Bath Spa. There are so many things to choose from, from food stalls, drinks, crafts, handmade items, and more.

Is the market ticketed?

You don’t need tickets to attend, as it isn’t cordoned off or anything; it is accessible for all, so if you plan to go an tie in some sightseeing as well, you can dip in and out of the market.

Is it family friendly?

I pretty much think that all Christmas markets are going to be family-friendly, but Bath is no exception. Although little ones may not enjoy the busier times, there is plenty going on, food that they will eat (hello, hotdogs), and on the Saturdays there are extra things put on for children.

As well as the markets that we have been to around the UK, I have also been to one of two over in Europe. One of my favourites was in Lille, France, that we actually discovered by accident. We were driving through France to get to Belgium, and took a pit stop in January. Yes, you read that right, January – it lasts for ages over there. The fun fair was still going and there were still plenty of stalls going on. We had crepes and a mooch around; it was a lot of fun.

Lille – back in 2011

Lille is pretty close from Calais, so it could easily be visited as part of a day trip, if you fancied something different for a trip to a festive market. I find that they all have a continental European feel to them, so even better when you’re on the continent, right?

The thing with heading over to Europe for the day, or even a mini-break is that you can drive. And while that does make it much cheaper and easier when you’re driving your car that you are familiar with, you need to make sure that you know and are aware of the rules and regulations of the roads in the country you are visiting.

In France, for example, they are the strictest about having your car kit. If you get pulled over and you don’t have the red triangle for breakdowns, then you can get fined. It is also important to note that you have need to have Car Insurance that allows you to drive in another country, much like the Aviva car insurance, as it covers most of Europe. If something happened and you didn’t have the right insurance in place, then it would end up being pretty costly, rather than a lovely cheap day trip.

Have you got any favourite Christmas markets? I think I’d love to experience a real German market as they do them do well, and as my sister used to live in Austria, seeing the Krampus and St. Nicholas parade.

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