Everyone is getting into Christmas spirit, with craft fairs, decorating offices and buying friends and family gifts (I am a bit of a Grinch when it comes to the festivities of this time of year). However, the upside is wonderful city breaks to visit fantastic Christmas markets, have a go on fairground rides and enjoy mulled cider in a winter wonderland. Below are three cities which are lovely to visit in December, and their best festive attractions; Cardiff, Birmingham and London.
Cardiff is lovely in the lead up to Christmas; there is the Winter Wonderland, the Christmas Market and so many places to get delicious food. The market, held outdoors, can be found on St John Street, Working Street, the Hayes, Hills Street and Trinity Street. It is just a few minutes walk away from St David’s Shopping Centre and Queen’s Street Arcade, along with the other Victorian and Edwardian arcades which can be found in Cardiff. There are loads of exhibitors, selling handcrafted bits and bobs that make perfect gifts. The stalls have ceramics, art prints, clothing, jewellery, woodwork and much more. There is also places to get food on the market – a favourite of mine is the German bratwursts. The Christmas Market is open 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday and 5pm on Sunday and the last day of trading, Sunday 23rd December.
If you head out of the town centre and towards Cardiff City Hall, you will find the Winter Wonderland. A highlight of Christmas in the city, the wonderland has an ice-skating rink, funfair attractions and an alpine village with Bierkeller Bar. Not far is the Castle, Bute Park and Natural History Museum of Cardiff. The Winter Wonderland is open to 7th January.
There is loads to do in Birmingham around Christmas, including one of the biggest German Markets found outside Germany. The market is already open from 10am to 9pm every day and runs until 24th December. The market is great for eating, drinking and shopping, and is one of the most anticipated events in Birmingham’s calendar – millions visit every year. Of course, weekdays are less hectic, but the atmosphere is amazing, and there is always something new to see each day.
Another popular attraction in Birmingham is the Ice Rink and Big Wheel, which is open slightly longer than the market, to 7th January. Though the Christmas Craft Market is cancelled for 2017 due to redevelopment (sadly only found out after I arrived) the ice rink and big wheel were open, though in a new location of Eastside Green in New Canal Street. There are other funfair rides and food stalls – I saw so many kids there having a good time.
The capital, of course, has the biggest and best Christmas events in the country, so much so, you will likely never see them all. One attraction to definitely check out is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. There are activities you can pre-book such as ice skating and Bar Ice, but there is also the Christmas Markets, fair rides and lots to eat and drink. You can easily spend a day there and want to go back the next day to check out stuff you missed!
Though the Winter Wonderland has it all, it is worth checking out what other London locations have on. On the South Bank, there is the Winter Market, where wooden chalets line the Thames, and Leicester Square always has a lovely festive market. Ice skating rinks pop up all over the city too; at the Natural History Museum, Canary Wharf, Tower of London an even the rooftop ice rink at Skylight (That will be next year for me!). There is also Christmas carols, pantomime, ballet and Father Christmas meets, but if you want to get into the festive spirit for free, just wander the streets. The Christmas lights on the busy shopping streets are gorgeous, and can really get you excited for Christmas.
Have you been to any of these places around Christmas, or do you have your favourite Christmas city destination? Let me know in the comment or via social media!