Get into the festive spirit this Christmas and discover authentic British and Irish arts, crafts and food by the sea. Words: Madeleine Barber
1. FOR ARTISAN FOOD
Padstow Christmas Festival, Padstow
Now in its ninth year, Padstow’s harbourside Christmas Festival is well known for delighting foodies with locally produced fare, top-chef cookery demonstrations and mouthwatering tasting sessions. This year's market will have more than 100 stallholders, including food and drink manufacturers from all over Cornwall. Think bakeries, charcuteries, cheese-makers, preservative producers, fisheries, farm shops, and more sweets companies than you can count. For a tasty tipple to wash down all those artisan tidbits, choose from locally produced beers, ales, ciders, liqueurs and spirits. Open 6-9 December 2018 (01841 533449, padstowchristmasfestival.co.uk). Photo: James Ram.
2. FOR FANTASTICAL FUN
Glow: A Cork Christmas Celebration, Cork City
There’s so much to do in this seaside city this Christmas season that visitors won’t know where to start. At Glow, celebration-goers can expect to be immersed in a 3D version of Narnia, ‘a winter wonderland’, in Bishop Lucey Park and explore lines of Christmas market stalls on the Grand Parade. The markets will include products of local crafts such as ceramics, textiles and jewellery, and a food zone bound to tickle your tastebuds. To top it all off, for children, there’s a 30m-high Ferris wheel, vintage carousel, and the opportunity to post a letter to the North Pole. Open Friday 7th December to Sunday 9th December, Friday 14th December to Sunday 16th December, Thursday 20th December to Saturday 22nd December 2018 (+353 21 492 4344, corkchristmascelebration.ie).
3. FOR BRIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
Christmas Market at The Alnwick Garden, Alnwick
Home to one of the world’s largest treehouses and a pristine ornamental garden, The Alnwick Garden is a pleasure to visit at any time of the year. But at Christmas, a little magic is added to the greenery with a handmade, artisan and traditional gifts market. Each maker from around the region has been handpicked by The Alnwick Garden, as has a selection of festive nibbles and show of live carolling. On the last Sunday, 18 December, a spectacular live music and light performance dubbed ‘Spark’ will see a lantern parade tour the gardens before finally coming to a halt in front of the Grand Cascade. Open Weekends from 17th November – 23rd December 10am – 5pm at the foot of The Treehouse (01665 511350, visitnorthumberland.com). Photo: Graeme Peacock.
4. FOR HANDMADE CRAFTS
Eden 2 Christmas Art, Craft and Food Fair, Inverness
Located just two miles from both the Beauly Firth and the Moray Firth, this festive market organised by Exclusively Highlands is a craft-lovers paradise. Over 70 exhibitors will be showcasing their handmade arts, crafts and foods at Eden Court for market-goers to purchase. The makers originate from all across Scotland, but the majority are from the Highlands, where they draw inspiration from the surrounding isles and their coastlines. The market is also a charitable event, with some of the proceeds going to support Alzheimers Scotland. Open Friday 16th, Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th of November 2018, Friday – 12:00 to 20:00 / Saturday & Sunday – 10:00 to 17:00. Free Entry. (01381 621962, exclusivelyhighlands.co.uk).
5. FOR A HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE
Christmas Fair and Handmade and Vintage Market, Ramsgate
On the eastern tip of the Kent coast you’ll find Ramsgate Tunnels, where a Handmade and Vintage market, and an outdoor Christmas Fair, will be taking place this month. During the day, visitors will have the chance to browse everything from felt baubles and glass decorations to handmade cards, chocolate and jewellery, and listen to a number of musical acts. If you’d like to get in on the action, there will be family-friendly craft workshops run by Arts in Ramsgate. And of course, don't miss out on the mince pies and mulled wine. Open Sunday 9th December 9.30am-4pm (07939 542990, visitthanet.co.uk).
6. FOR ONE-OFF GIFTS
Deepdale Christmas Market, Burnham Deepdale
Dalegate Market, situated off the A149 coast road and in the heart of the Norfolk Coast AONB, is open all year round, but at Christmas adds three giant marquees and expands to St Mary’s Church for the Deepdale Christmas Market. Independent traders offering unique gifts from all over the region will set up over 100 carefully curated stalls. Examples include handcrafted stained glass ornaments, illustrated and hand-printed textiles, decorative recycled glass and ceramics inspired by the coast. If you get peckish while shopping, head to The Proper Pizza Co, Pie Central, or The Duck Truck. Open Friday 21st December 2018 – Wednesday 2nd January 2019 December 12-7pm; Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December 10am-4pm (dalegatemarket.co.uk). Photo: Andy Davison Photography