CHRISTMAS MARKETS 2015
It's almost Christmas and it's Christmas Market time! But you don't have to book your airline tickets to Frankfurt, Prague or Bruges, because the UK has some of the best Christmas markets in the world and many begin next week. Here are nine of the very best, starting with my home city:-
Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market & Craft Fair
12 November to December 22 - 10am-9pm
Birmingham hosts the biggest German Christmas market held outside of Germany and Austria. There's a huge range of comforting Teutonic food, from mulled wine and preztels to bratwust and knoblauchbrot (German garlic bread). You're unlikely to leave hungry.
Southbank Centre Christmas Market, London
Ends 4 January
One of the best-located Christmas markets stretches along the Southbank in London, where you can wander down the riverside while sipping a steaming beverage (perhaps from the Cider Lodge) and nibbling a mince pie. The hot chocolate from Jaz & Jul's is particuarly good (we strongly suggest you try the chilli version).
Belfast Christmas Continental Market
6 November to 20 December
You could spend all day tucking into the goodies at Belfast's European-inspired extravaganza at St George's Market. Delicacies on offer include traditional Spanish paella, proper French crepes, Dutch pofitjes (mini-pancakes), and exotic meats from around the world. Roast kangaroo with Brussels sprouts, anyone?
Edinburgh Christmas markets
20 November to 4 January - 10am-10pm
Edinburgh has an impressive range of Christmas markets for foodies. Visitors can choose to snack on gingerbread and mulled wine at the traditional German Christmas market, or sample locally-sourced food and drink, such as cracking craft beers, at Edinburgh's Scottish market. Or you could push the boat out and enjoy lunch at both...
Christkindlmarkt in Leeds
15 November to 20 December
This German Christmas Market, set in the heart of Leeds at Millennium Square, is a great place to stock up on stollen and schnitzels. if it's rainy outside, you can even huddle away in the cosy Alp Chalet Bavarian eatery.
Bath Christmas Market
26 November to 13 December
Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Abbey, Bath Christmas Market draws crowds of people from the south-west and beyond every year. It's primarily a crafts-and-gifts market, but there's plenty of nibbles to be enjoyed. You can pick up slow-roasted beef from the Thoroughly Wild Meat Co, homemade fudge from Bath's Fudge Kitchen, or even a jar of pickled eggs with beetroot or garlic from the Purely Pickled Eggs stall.
Lincoln Christmas Market
3 December to 6 December
Held over four days this year, Lincoln offers 200 stalls selling a range of craft and food products around the city's magnificent cathedral and castle. Churros, local meats, homemade curries and cupcakes are all promised. If you're not too full to squeeze into a pew, don't miss the carol service in the cathedral on the evening of 4 December.
Winchester Christmas Market
19 November to 22 December
More than 350,000 visitors a year flock to Winchester's Christmas market - join them in the Cathedral’s historic Close (and lace up your ice skates for the outdoor rink). Exhibitors this year include homemade preserves from The Cherry Tree, cheese from Neal's Yard Dairy (if they've got their creamy blue Stichelton, do try it), and handmade wooden chopping boards from BoardnBread.
York Christmas Markets
19 November to 23 December
There are various fairs and markets taking place as part of York's annual Christmas festival. Grab some roasted chesnuts at the Dickensian-themed St Nicholas Fair on Parliament Street, then head to the Medieval Market at Barley Hall to try a pint of traditional ale at the 'Medieval bar'. There are great foodie events going on all over the city, too, including chocolate-making workshops at York Cocoa House.
Thanks to the Daily Telegraph for the details