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Top 10 Christmas Markets in the SW

Top 10 Christmas Markets in the SW

Pictured above: Bath Christmas Market 

Bath Christmas Market  Somerset 26 November – 13 December

Arguably the don of Christmas markets with 170 wooden chalets lining the streets around the Abbey and the Roman Baths, it would be hard to find a more picturesque setting. Modelled on the famous German and Austrian fairs, the market manages to swerve most Christmas tat offering good, original stocking fillers (Belgian chocolate spanner or corkscrew anyone?) and artisan gifts. Our favourite handpainted baubles from Bollywood Christmas are here – why wouldn’t you want to bling up your tree with turquoise glitter elephant? Grab a mulled wine and prepare to take your time, you could quite easily nail most of your shopping here.

Compton Marbling Fair, Wiltshire  (20 & 21 November, 27 & 28 November)

Set up years ago by Solveig Stone, who also produces the famous hand-marbled Compton Marbling paper, and now run by her daughter Clementine Earl, these fairs are so well thought of there is always a long waiting list for stallholders. Everything is carefully handpicked so you’ll find the cosiest Alpaca socks, beautiful handmade gold and silver charms, contemporary but affordable jewellery, lampshades, organic cotton handkerchiefs. There are usually various homeware stalls selling everything from oriental carpets to table linen, cushions and zinc pots. Grab  a cappuccino and a home-made brownie from the café and don’t forget to browse in Clementine’s Shop on the same site, a treasure trove of unusual gifts for all ages.

Bristol German Christmas Market Somerset  6 November to 22 December

Head here if you’re feeling grinchy, it’s Christmas in a bottle. Held in Broadmead in Bristol’s Shopping Quarter, it’s a full on assault, 38 trad wooden chalets festooned with lights, street entertainers, Gluhwein, bratwurst, stollen, and even a giant rotating nativity scene.  Is it naff?  Yes, a little bit, but in a schmaltzy, gingerbread soaked kind of way, the vibe is ridiculously upbeat and you can snaffle some good gifts – lots of artisan foodie presents, handmade soaps, fair trade woollen scarfs. With bearded, fat-padded Santas on constant parade this is one for small over excited kids who are finding the countdown to Chrimbo challenging.

Totnes Christmas Market, Devon 8,15, 22 December  

With its posh hippy credentials Totnes does markets rather well. On Tuesday nights throughout December (late night shopping through the town as well) you’ll find an appealing mix of stalls selling beautiful semi-precious stone jewellery, chilli jam, olive wood chopping boards, sheepskin throws, handmade glass baubles. There’s plenty for the discerning lentil-muncher – raw food, wild food, organic plant beauty products. Add lashings of hot artisan cider, roasted chestnuts and some seriously good food stalls – this one is great.

Anonymous Travelling Market (various locations through Dec)

A travelling market which turns up in gorgeous locations and various towns throughout Dorset and Somerset, the ATM puts its unique spin on small, artisan, independent retail. The stallholders change regularly but always offer high quality, hard to find products from cute bottle top earrings to the perfect hand carved salad bowl – you are guaranteed to find unusual gifts at reasonable prices. There’s live music, traditional Dorset dancing and fantastic food alongside an upbeat partyish vibe, these markets are an event as much as a shopping opportunity. They reallly care about the coffee, artisan cider and immaculately sourced food – think oysters, griddled scallops and fiery curries - so people come to eat, drink and hang out. Lots of dates through December (check website for details www.theatm.co.uk ).We’re looking forward to the ATM at Hauser & Wirth’s Festive Family Saturday on Dec 5 and the Castle Cary Christmas Extravaganza on Dec 17 but with the Anonymous Travelling Market you can always guarantee it will be good.

Winchester Christmas Market 19 November to 22 December

Modelled on trad German markets and centred around the famous cathedral, Winchester Christmas market is arguably one of the best and biggest in the country. Only high end stallholders here, so bring wads of cash, you’ll be able to tick off most of your present list. Absolutely no tat, this is Christmas at its most stylish with fantastic tree decorations for sale too. All the traditional offerings are here from mulled wine to mince pies and a pretty ice rink to keep the offspring happy while you shop. While you’re here check out the Anthony Gormley sculpture, Sound 11, in the cathedral crypt. You can climb the cathedral tower, 213 steps to the top and panoramic views of the city. Try to catch the choristers rehearsing carols for a high impact injection of Christmas spirit.

Artisan Market, Frome, Somerset 6 December

This market, held on the first Sunday of the month on Catherine’s Hill, is outrageously good at Christmas time. Think quirky, stylish, high quality everything from cashmere beanies for babies to handmade bottled cider and beer. Jewellery, sweaters, cheese, notebooks, chutney, it’s all here on this famous cobbled street and you also have access to some of the best independent shops in the South West – wonderful home-made soaps, bath melts at Herbs on the Hill, brilliant vintage finds, cool menswear, homeware, antiques, the list goes on. There’s live music, seriously amazing coffee, hot cider, delicious sesame chicken to takeaway – call us biased but we love it at any time of year.

Penzance Christmas Market Cornwall 28 November onwards

Fabulously quirky and a little bit trad, much like the town itself, the lights are turned on  on28 November and the whole high street springs to life. There’s a horse-drawn bus and the opening of Grandfather Frost’s grotto – inspired by Tolkien’s letters from Father Christmas,  the old man takes up residence t in an empty furniture shop. Wonderful and the antithesis to your bog standard Santa visit. Don’t miss Humphrey Davy’s (famous Cornish inventor and chemist) birthday on December 17 when a giant Humphrey puppet parades down the high street.  Fairy lights aplenty, santa in a sleigh and some great, crafty stocking fillers from the stalls. Another one for small people, while grown ups will love the new Chapel House, in the former Arts Club.

Cirencester Christmas Market
 Cotwsolds 28 November 

Gorgeous traditional market with wooden chalets around the market square, ice skating in the Abbey grounds, a lantern parade and all the usual roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, gingerbread houses and handmade plum pies. Find gourmet foods in the Charter Market, antiques in the Corn Hall and everything from cashmere to at the decorated stalls throughout. Afterwards treat yourself to a party-primping Mulled Wine Body Polish at the Kings Head hotel.

Exeter Christmas Market Devon 19 November to 19 December

Based on the Cathedral Green around the beautiful cathedral, the emphasis here is on handmade and traditional with everything from artisan cheese to classic wooden chess boards. Eating opportunities aplenty of course with hog roasts, baklava, crepes and Belgian hot chocolate alongside all the standard Chrimbo fayre. Local coffee roasted in Honiton, beautiful knitwear, hand-painted decorations, hot cider and a festive atmosphere.

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