We round-up the best Christmas markets in the region to help you stay on top of your festive shopping
St Nick’s Christmas Market
In the heart of Bristol, the scent of mulled wine hints at the festive focus that this aptly named 275-year-old arcade adds to its year-round profusion of international culinary delights, local crafts, books, records, fashion and more. The market is open daily from 12 December until Christmas Day from 10am to 5pm, except on Wednesdays, when stalls close at 2.30pm. On 7 December, St Nick’s stays open until 10.00pm for an evening of seasonal celebrations featuring live music, carols, a light show, a DJ and dancing.
12–24 December, Bristol BS1 1JQ
Arnos Vale Christmas Market:
The historic Arnos Vale Cemetery does not dwell on the macabre. Set amidst sweeping green lawns and the extravagant mortuary architecture so cherished by well-to-do Victorians, this idiosyncratic event remains aloof from the pretty-but-pervasive clichés of the typical modern Christmas market. Local cheesemakers, jam-producers, jewellers and illustrators will all proffer their goods, as will the likes of Fawn and Blue, whose handmade accessories for dogs will be available in the pretty Anglican Chapel.
2 December, 10.00am–4.00pm, Bristol BS4 3EW
While Bristol’s North Street has been gentrifying at pace over the past decade, the Tobacco Factory – revived as a theatre, café, bar and marketplace in 1993 after its abandonment by Imperial Tobacco six years earlier – has been a symbol of communal continuity for Southville residents. Their Christmas market prioritises ethically sourced, eco-friendly, organic produce. The producers themselves are friendly and happy to talk about their various crafts, with conversation lubricated by an abundance of merriment and mulled beverages. This is also a great place to pick up your Christmas tree, with non-drop Nordmann firs for sale alongside tree stands and mistletoe.
A variety of children’s activities are held from 11.30am.
2, 9,16, and 23 December, Bristol BS3 1TF
Cirencester’s Christmas fair takes place beneath the magnificent gothic façade of the St. John the Baptist Church. The Cotswolds is renowned for its proud farming community, and the edibles here are evidence that this venerable heritage continues to thrive in Gloucestershire – there will no doubt be plenty of high-grade fudge on offer. In addition to market stalls, the church plaza will host fairground rides, live music, and Santa’s grotto. Local circus star Nell Gifford will turn on the Christmas lights on the market’s December opening, accompanied by a firework display. Visit http://cirencester.gov.uk/christmas-in-cirencester/ for opening hours.
1–22 December, Cirencester GL7 2NX
Bath’s Christmas market is the largest in the region, with more than 180 wooden chalets lining the city’s elegant limestone streets. From ceramics to sausages, jewellery to gin, the majority of the products on sale are local, with many handmade by the stallholders themselves. A variety of activities are offered, including glass-blowing demonstrations, face-painting, and storytelling for children. Open from 10am until late evening.
22 November–9 December, Bath BA1 1LT
This is the choice for traditionalists. Originally built as a Norman fort, Dunster Castle and the surrounding village still bespeak a bygone world. For two days in December, Dunster turns back time to revive its medieval heritage. Electric lighting is switched off in favour of candlelit lanterns, and a melange of traditional entertainers are summoned. Fire-breathing swordsmen, folk musicians, marching soldiers, brass bands, choristers and Morris dancers will demonstrate the enduring potency of ancient entertainments, while a 15th-century re-enactment troupe will offer visitors careful reconstructions of scenes not seen since the House of Tudor held the English crown.
7–8 December, Dunster TA24