Travel Great Britain for a Medieval Christmas
by Bob Barton
Flakes of snow
float past an old English medieval castle or cathedral...Christmas
trees and colourful lights everywhere; roast chestnuts and mulled
wine being enjoyed...
Each year there
seems to be another historic location added to the annual roll-call
of places celebrating in style:
Lincoln, York, Edinburgh, Durham, Bath, Portsmouth and Swansea to
name a few. They all offer opportunities for Christmas shopping
in historic settings, with plenty of merry-making into the bargain!
These are not
only good opportunities to buy gifts but also a chance to enjoy
British Yuletide festivities and traditions. Cathedrals, abbeys,
castles even renowned battleships are the backdrops,
and many people dress in period costume.
One of the best-known
events is in Lincoln,
this year holding its 22nd Christmas Market (December 4-7) which
claims to be Europes biggest (Dec. 4 is evening only). Held
in a cobbled square overlooked by its floodlit 12th century cathedral,
more than 300 stalls offer a variety of gifts and produce.
Durham in north-east
England, whose Norman castle and cathedral, perched high on their
rocky crags, are a World Heritage Site, will hold its Christmas
Festival from Dec. 6-7. The market and entertainment take place
in a cobbled square; there will also be a craft and gift marquee
and roving musicians. Also in the north, medieval York
has its St. Nicholas Fayre (Nov. 27-30) which has a magical atmosphere.
An array of markets selling local produce within walking distance
of the citys many museums, theatres, cafes, pubs and shops.
In the elegant
Georgian city of Bath,
the Christmas Market has an increased number of stall-holders this
year and runs for ten days from Nov. 27 Dec. 30. More than
80 wooden chalet stalls will offer their wares and the market site,
bordered by Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, will be festooned with
lights: carol singers and strolling players will add to the atmosphere.
In the Scottish
Princes Street Gardens with its magnificent castle backdrop
is setting for a German-style Christmas market, ice-rink,
big wheel and carousel. Its part of a month of events called
Edinburghs Capital Christmas (Nov. 27 Jan. 4) which
also includes a Santa Extravaganza (Dec. 7) in Festival
Square. The city also spreads its New Year celebrations over four
days and nights, with at least one big free event daily: Edinburghs
Hogmanay runs from Dec. 29 Jan. 4.
a chance to soak up the flavour of the countrys maritime past
at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on the South Coast, staging its
of Christmas from Nov. 27-30. There is an admission charge
(£7.20 adults, £3.60 children) which includes entry
to historic vessels such as Mary Rose and HMS Victory; the Royal
Naval Museum and Action Stations, the modern navy interactive showcase
-- as well as a large indoor market, historical re-enactments and
entertainment from musicians and entertainers.
Or you can sample
rural delights amid the bustle of the capital city when Londons
is transformed into a magical world of lights, music and family
entertainment. The event (Nov.29 - Jan.4) includes late-night opening,
shopping, live music, guided walks and more.
The South Wales
city of Swansea
(best known as birthplace of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and poet
Dylan Thomas) has its Victorian Christmas street market in December. Its one element of a month of seasonal celebrations
which also includes a Welsh food fair and concerts.
For more events
and city information during the holidays - or througout the year
- check out VisitBritain.