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WHAT’S ON: Why go to Europe for some festive cheer when some of the best Christmas markets are closer to home?

WHAT’S ON: Why go to Europe for some festive cheer when some of the best Christmas markets are closer to home?

Get into the seasonal spirit with the best festive events taking place in the UK and Ireland, says Sarah Marshall.
Twelve months always feels too long a wait for Christmas to roll around again, so two years has been almost agony. But festive plans are forging ahead this season, with many winter wonderland events and festive markets being held in the UK and Ireland.Find unique gifts and foreign foods sourced globally, sold alongside regional farm produce and crafts made by local artisans. Vintage funfair rides and workshops turn a shopping spree into a day out, while historic backdrops – ranging from medieval castles to 18th century stately homes – create a magical atmosphere.Yes, it’s been a long time coming – but Christmas 2021 has been worth the wait…

Celebrate Christmas Past

Where: Stratford-upon-Avon

The streets of Stratford-upon-Avon are steeped in history, providing an atmospheric setting for a historical festive fair. Held from December 9-12, the town’s Victorian Christmas Market features stalls helmed by vendors in period costume, along with a stage in Henley Street hosting a programme of entertainment and a traditional funfair with a carousel.

A novel way to experience the festivities is by canal boat. It’s a six-hour journey from Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, passing through 17 locks in the Warwickshire countryside.

How: The 48ft Teddington 4 narrowboat (sleeping four) is available December 10-13 for £605, including bed linen, towels, cancellation protection, first pet, parking and tuition on arrival. A £50 non-refundable damage waiver and fuel deposit (£50 for a short break, £90 for a week) are extra.

Where: Warwick Castle

Medieval kings and queens were renowned for hosting grand banquets. The tradition continues with a supreme spread of festive foods at Warwick Castle’s Winter Stalls. Eat German sausage and pretzels cooked on an open grill, or dine on locally farmed slow roasted pork with homemade chutneys.

Wander around the 64-acre grounds to admire a Light Trail and zip across an ice rink. New this year, an Elf Workshop invites families to make a board game and listen to bedtime stories from Santa.

How: Tickets for Castle entrance and Stories With Santa cost £26pp. Both the ice skating and Light Trail cost £14.50pp each. Visit

Deck the halls of a stately home

Will you pay these options a visit? Let us know!



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