Christmas markets guide
It was only about 15 years ago that the first Germanstyle traditional market came to the UK, but now it seems like Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a mug of Gluhwein in the rain. These days, though, festive markets are not just about the Bratwurst,
1 Edinburgh Christmas Market East Princes Street Gardens, until January 5 YOU need never be without Bratwurst in the centre of Edinburgh. Last year, its Christmas market was named the best in the UK, in a survey by McCarthy & Stone. One long market that barely ever stops, closing its stalls down at 9pm on Monday to Wednesday and 10pm all other days, it feels as if in this spot of the capital, the Gluhwein is on tap. But Edinburgh Christmas is so much more than the market. It’s great big sprawling pop-up of lights and entertainment. This year brings two new attractions. There’s the Johnnie Walker Bothy Bar on The Mound, a venue over two floors with anything from a whisky cocktail to a hot toddy. Then, for the dancers out there, there’s Silent Light, a silent disco event in which you can don headphones and boogie under the lights to some cheesy Christmas beats.
2 George Square Christmas Market Glasgow, until December 31 HARD to choose, isn’t it? Which of Glasgow’s two fun-filled markets to hang out in? George Square is all about the tradition, as well as the big thrills. Check out the artisan products and craft on the 50 stalls that fill the square, while listening to the squeals of kids as they ride the vintage helter skelter, or take in the live music and street performers – all best done with a mug of something hot in hand. Naturally, Santa pays a visit, dropping into the advent calendar each day and handing out treats to children.
3 CRAFTED Christmas Craft and Design Market Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dec 1 THERE’S no danger here of bringing back some embarrassing tat as a gift. For the city now home to our V&A hosts a Christmas market that’s all about design. Here it’s possible to buy jewellery, textiles, illustrations, homewares and other items, all directly from very talented independent designers and makers. Forget the Christmas kitsch, this is pure class.
4 Christmas in the Quad Aberdeen, Thursdays to Sundays until December 23 ABERDEEN Christmas Village doubled its size this year. Part of this expansion is a new market in the Marischal College Quad, which offers a range of locally produced crafts and gifts, as well as gourmet food and drink, all delivered from open-air wooden cabins. Each weekend will bring a different offering of stallholders and showcase both new and established brands including Urban Caledonia, Porter’s Gin and Throwup Gallery. But it’s not all stalls. Santa will be in his grotto in the quad, a community stage will provide entertainment, and the ice rink, festive train and other rides are nearby.
5 Jupiter Artland Christmas Fair Wilkieston, December 1 and 2 THE third Christmas fair held by the art and sculpture park will see Jupiter Steadings near Edinburgh transformed into a “magical Winter Wonderland” of boutique craft stalls, food vendors and live music. But Jupiter Artland isn’t just about buying, it’s also about making and bringing out the creative in its visitors – and the fair offers the chance to make your own festive foral decoration, or a wreath, or join in an Elf workshop to make a special decoration for you tree. Bored with reindeers? Instead meet Jupiter’s “festive” donkeys.
6 Loch Lomond Shores markets Balloch, December 12 to 24 THIS year Loch Lomond Shores cancelled its popular lights switch-on, but hasn’t done away yet with its markets. Not only are there the popular weekend farmers’ markets, selling local produce and crafts, but also, from December 12, it will be running a 12 Days Of Christmas market, packed with artisan goodies and an offering of hot food and mulled wine to ward off the chill. Santa will also be working his magic in the grotto.
7 Perth Christmas Market High Street, until December 2 PERTH’S festive village, it could be said, is doing the full Christmas. Not only are there the stalls providing everything from culinary delights to crafts and clothing, but there’s a sausage swing grill and a tavern selling mulled wine and spiced cider. There’s live music too, and, of course, Santa, installed in a fairytale grotto.
8 Logie Steading Christmas market Dunphail, December 8 and 9 THE best Christmas markets are all about the place in which they’re held and the products made in that area. Logie Steading, a group of sandstone buildings nestled in the Findhorn Valley, houses a community of artisan makers and retailers, so you can be sure it’s going to be good. The market itself brings together over 50 exhibitors, creators working in fine art, photography, wood, metal and jewellery, as well as sellers of seriously tasty food. Toasted marshmallows, music, tastings, demonstrations and the company of Speysound local radio broadcasting, are all in a line-up that speaks of nothing but pure festive cheer.
9 Oban Winter Festival Oban, November 25 TAKE your pick between two Oban markets – or do them both – but get in quick because today’s the last day of the winter festival. There’s the Victorian Market in the Perle hotel, which not only hosts outdoor food stalls but also the all-important Santa’s Postbox. But the key market today is really the one held at Oban Distillery and featuring not only stalls but live music, face painting, tea, coffee, soup, hot toddies and Pimm’s. It’s where, effectively, the winter festival climaxes. Arrive there with the Finale Parade, The Big Racket, so-called since it invites those who join it to bring their own instruments and add to the noise.
10 Kames Christmas Market Kames Hall, Argyll, December1 A producers’ market in the small village of Kames on the beautiful Cowal peninsula in which you’ll find local cheese, local lamb, homemade treats, crafts and artisan breads. This festive celebration is thoroughly local and declares itself “homemade, homegrown and homespun”. Go to stock up, or hang out at the pop-up café and gorge on cake.
11 St Enoch Square Christmas Market Glasgow, December 1-December 23 START or end a big shopping session in St Enoch’s with a bit of proper festive cheer in this traditional-style continental market. You might even find a hand-crafted gift that suits better than the mass-produced present you were about to get in the mall.
12 Dundee Ethical Christmas Fair Dundee City Square, December 5-22 THE fair for those who don’t want Christmas to weigh too heavily on their conscience. Bypass the high street stores and the web and get something you know is delivering its makers a fair and honest payment. Over 40 stalls will be packed with ethical international and Scottish gifts, including handcrafted products from Madagascar, Morocco, South Africa, Peru and many other countries. International exhibitors travel from as far as Zambia and India.
13 Helensburgh Winter Festival Colquhoun Square, December 1-2 HERE’S a festival with plenty to please the kids. In Helensburgh, it’s not Santa the children should be on the look out for – though, of course, he’s there and housed in his grotto – but the wee mascot of its winter festival, a penguin. They also might want to catch a glimpse of the Ayrshire Reindeer who are squeezing a date in to their busy schedule to come on Sunday. Meanwhile, for the grown-ups, Helensburgh’s festive market offers a wide range of gifts, plus there’s entertainment for all on the live stage, including the Helensburgh rock choir and Bavariations, a tribute to German Schlager hits.
14 Etsy Made Local Glasgow The Briggait, December 1-2 RATHER than sit at home browsing Etsy, the online mart for handmade craft items, it’s far more enjoyable, surely, to get out and meet some of those makers and sellers themselves. In its fourth year, Etsy Made Local Glasgow brings together some of the finest of Scotland’s Etsy sellers in The Briggait in Glasgow’s Merchant City. Check out the line-up of sellers on each day online beforehand.
15 Out of the Blue Christmas markets Dalmeny Street, Edinburgh, December 5 and 12 ANOTHER market that is all about connecting up with the makers and finding gifts that have that handmade, personal touch. The markets take place on two Saturdays, bringing together over 100 artists and producers of everything from photography through to fashion and furniture. Head there on December 5 and it’s also possible to browse the Open Studios event while enjoying the Music Fayre, in which local labels will be selling their own releases and playing tunes. On December 12, the venue also holds a Xmas Bruncheon, featuring live music.
16 Summerhall Christmas Market Edinburgh, December 9 THE labyrinth of the former Royal Dick Veterinary School is home to this sprawling Christmas market – noisy, busy, and packed with around 70 stalls. This is Christmas festivity on hyperdrive – with everything from porcelain painting workshops to wreathmaking sessions and a community choir delivering the carols – and the key thing to mention is that it’s mostly indoors, away from the chill. All the same, there are pleasures outdoors too in the courtyard where the bar will be serving up those warming drinks from hot toddies to mulled wine. Or if you’re fed up with hot spiced drinks you can always head to the Royal Dick for a nice gin and tonic, distilled on site.
17 GLOW Scottish Design Fair Dovecot, Edinburgh, December 8 HERE’S something really special – a fair that touts itself as “a unique opportunity to buy from some of the greatest contemporary Scottish designers”. It’s curated by weaver James Donald, the man behind the hugely successful CLOTH#18 makers fair earlier this year. Housed in the
Dovecot, an exhibition space that champions art, design and craftsmanship, this promises craft gifts at their finest. 18 Drumlanrig Castle Christmas Fair
Thornhill, Dunfries & Galloway, November 30 and December 1 THERE are not many more stunning locations for Christmas fairs than Drumlanrig – particularly when the castle is lit up green and red. Browse the stalls housed inside a marquee at the front of the castle. Take a trip back in time and go for a ride – on the Saturday – on a carriage pulled by the Blackstone Clydesdales. Join in the carol singing on Friday evening and have a warming tipple in the tearoom. And, of course, visit Santa in his grotto. 19 Traquair Christmas Fayre
Traquair House, Innerleithen, today THE last day of the annual Traquair Christmas Fayre is today, so you better get your sleigh cranked up if you’re going to make it in time for the mulled wine and roast chestnuts. The interiors of Scotland’s oldest inhabited house will be decorated in Victorian Christmas style, with craft stalls dotted throughout the rooms. Local choirs and the Silver band will perform in the courtyard and chapel. Meanwhile, Santa will be stationed in a “luxurious grotto”. Plus there are fun-filled puppet shows, delicious home-cooked lunches and teas in the Garden Cafe. 20 Riverside Christmas Fair & Market Glasgow, December 1-2
NOSTALGIA is what the Christmas market is all about this year. We’re in thrall to some idea, probably misplaced, of Christmas in days gone by. This makes the Riverside, with its reconstructed Victorian Street, the ideal setting for a few stalls and a bit of nostalgic atmosphere. For one weekend the museum transforms itself into a festive wonderland, with a traditional fairground whose rides and carousels are free. Where’s Santa? In his Tall Ship grotto, of course.
Christmas markets and fairs across Scotland have become the go-to attraction for a great day out with friends and family, and the ideal way to pick up gifts that are something different and often locally made