One of the best activities to do during the festive period is pay a visit to one of the UK’s many well-loved Christmas markets.
With stalls selling mulled wine, cheese fondue, decorations and gifts, it’s the perfect place for a day out and a spot of Christmas shopping.
However due to the pandemic, this year festivities will look very different as the UK is still working towards fighting coronavirus. Outdoor Christmas markets are allowed to be open in Tier 1 and 2, where groups of up to six are allowed to mix outside.
A Christmas market in Nottingham opened for a day before being shut by the city council due to overcrowding and lack of social distancing, while the biggest markets in Manchester, Leicester, Leeds, Exeter, Lincoln, Gloucester, Durham, Derby, Chester, Oxford, and Newcastle have been cancelled completely, due to the difficulty of hosting them in a Covid secure way.
However, some will be opening with restrictions in place and will be able to adhere to social distancing rules, including both Cardiff Swansea’s Christmas markets and the Greenwich Christmas market and Selfridge’s Christmas market in London.
Often stallholders make a lot of their income from the Christmas crowds, many of whom are small, independent businesses and some of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
Many have now taken their shops online, with virtual markets that allow you to still stock up on your Christmas gifts while shopping local, all without leaving your sofa.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite places to visit, while still keeping safe at home.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Taking its famous outdoor market online this year, the Bath’s market has a range of stallholders to shop directly with for all your festive needs.
Products include homewares, decorations, handmade jewellery, sweet and savoury treats and children’s clothing, sold by small businesses that deserve a helping hand at the end of a difficult year.
We’ll be placing an order with The Pudding Wagon, which makes gooey homemade brownies, blondies and chocolate baubles. They’d make a lovely doorstep delivery for someone special.
If you’re shopping for a new homeowner and want something unique, Torneado & Wood is a contemporary lighting brand that uses sustainable sourced wood for its products, while Broadlands Pottery handmakes ceramic gifts, ranging from bunting to tree decoration to hang up around your home.
Vist Bath Christmas market now
Home to some of the oldest markets in the UK, Visit York has launched a virtual Christmas market this year so you can discover some of the hidden gems usually seen on stalls.
With an extensive list of vendors to shop with, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Some we have our eye on include; SheaAlchemy, who hand make shea butter-based creams and lotions for face and body and Red Bear Jewellery who sell semi-precious gemstone jewels made from sterling silver and silver-plated settings, across bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
There’s also plenty of options for foodies, including FortyFive Vinyl Cafe which offers a range of coffee and coffee making equipment to help you get your caffeine fix and vinyl records.
Visit York Christmas market now
Another popular market is hosted by Chatsworth House from 13 November to 24 December. The stately home typically hosts over 100 stalls selling a wide range of Christmas gifts.
This year its virtual Christmas market has taken centre stage, with arts and crafts, clothing, accessories, home and garden, food and drink and pet traders offering unique items to fill up a loved one’s stocking.
If you love sending Christmas cards, pay a visit to Eggbert & Daisy that have a range of greeting cards and stationery, sweetly illustrated in individual and pack designs. Guy Badham Photography is a nature photographer, who specialises in Derbyshire flora and fauna, creating mounted prints, frames and canvases to decorate your walls with.
If you’re trying to be more eco-friendly with your gift giving this year, take a look at Sarah Turner Eco Art & Design, which is full of handmade jewellery and personalised baubles created from recycled materials and sustainably sourced plywood.
Visit Chatsworth virtual Christmas market now
Based in South London, Solo Craft Fair is run by duo Catherine and Rebecca, who have backgrounds in working on market stalls as part of running a small businesses.
Its main focus is on crafters and vintage traders, providing a platform across the area for business owners to showcase their products.
This year they have created 12 Virtual Night Markets of Christmas, where every Monday from 5 October onwards, they will be celebrating small businesses on their Instagram stories, encouraging people to get involved as stall holders and shoppers. It’s an easy way to browse while avoiding queuing in the cold.
Visit Solo Craft Fair now
This was set up by founder Polly before Covid-19 hit as a way to provide an online platform for independent businesses, which has since become a lifeline for many struggling through multiple lockdowns and tier restrictions in England.
You can find an extensive list of stallholders here, selling everything from food to fashion and all the details you need to support businesses across social media too.
The Pink Pheasant caught our eye for its colourful accessories, ranging from leather box bags, custom made colourful lighting and vibrant cushions. Elsewhere we also love Chiltern Liqueurs that makes three flavours; damson gin liqueur, Seville orange gin liqueur and raspberry vodka liqueur, all made in Shropshire and have been awarded two gold stars in the Great Taste Awards.
Visit the Online Christmas Fair now
Shop with stallholders while staying in your pyjamas thanks to the Early Early Christmas Virtual Fair that for 2020, boast over 160 places to do you Christmas shopping with.
Ten per cent of every order will be donated to ABF The Soldiers Charity that provides grants to support soldiers, veterans and their immediate families.
Tam Mason Sugar Scrubs offer hand scrubs from Somerset made with vitamin E and a cocktail of organic ingredients and essential oils to leave skin feeling soft and would make a lovely gift under the tree.
While Em&Lu design children’s cotton nightwear with fun patterns to choose from such as dinosaurs, unicorns and flamingos. We’ll definitely be stocking up for Christmas morning.
Visit the Early Early Christmas Virtual Fair now
If you’re unsure what to buy your loved ones, visit our Christmas gift guides here
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