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Confused.com’s pick of Christmas Markets

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Unsure about where to go this Christmas, for festive markets, mulled wine and hand-crafted gifts? Read on for Confused.com’s Rob Powell’s tips on which Christmas markets to go to this winter. Just don’t forget to save by checking our jouney planner for cheap tickets before you take the train to your favourite.

Why bother with a Christmas market?

Over the past few years British shoppers have done more and more of their Christmas shopping online, and who can blame them? The internet has got almost everything, you’re in the warm, and a cup of tea is never far away.

Well, we say boo to all that.

Seeing a potential gift in the flesh so to speak, rather than in a photo, is so much better. And what about all those small traders who don’t have a large online presence and sell items you won’t get on the big retail websites?

Christmas markets are a great way to get back outside for some traditional shopping. Walking around small stalls of independent traders, being able to touch, smell and taste the items you want to buy, all the twinkling Christmas lights that illuminate the paths and stalls, and the occasional (maybe even frequent) stop for some mulled wine, hot spiced cider, or mince pie. Bloomin’ marvellous!

Christmas markets can now be found all over the UK. Below we highlight some of the finest that can be found across the country, all within easy reach of a train and making for a great day out, or even a weekend.

The Markets

Lincoln
1 – 4 December

Perhaps we should start with the Lincoln Christmas Market, as it was the first to be revived back in 1982. It is a German style market, as many are in the UK (although other countries have their influence as well), and grew from the city’s twinning with Neustadt in Germany. Lincoln’s market covers a large area around the castle, and incorporates food stalls, crafts, a medieval market and a children’s Winter Wonderland.

Southbank Centre/London Eye
Now – 24 December

Another German influenced market but on the banks of the Thames. Forget Oxford Street and Covent Garden, get your gifts here. Hand-crafted toys and ornaments, amazing candles, ceramics and other little treasures await you by London’s famous river. And it probably looks amazing from atop the London Eye too.

Petworth House, West Sussex
26 – 27 November

For one weekend the National Trust converts this magnificent country house into a Christmas market. Away from the hustle, bustle and queues of the city centres, this Christmas market offers something a little different. Plus it’s all indoors!

Truro, Cornwall
13 -18 December

A Victorian Christmas market, Truro sets up a giant marquee and fills it with stalls and traders all in Victorian costume. Food, drink, arts and crafts, and all manner of other gifts can be found in the heated marquee. Plus, wandering musicians and stilt walkers will entertain you as you peruse the fine wares of the stallholders.

Erddig, Wrexham
3 – 18 December 2011

Another National Trust Christmas, this time in the hills of North Wales. Erddig is a large country house just outside Wrexham, and the National Trust converts the outbuildings of this 18th-century jewel into a winter wonderland with fifty wooden stalls selling jewellery, leatherwork, toys, ceramics, and loads more besides. Don’t forget to try the mulled wine and roasted chestnuts and hot waffles.

Bath
Now – 11 December 2011

Centred on Bath’s beautiful abbey and famous Roman Baths, the Bath Christmas Market has become internationally renowned and with over 120 wooden chalets lining the Georgian city’s cobbled streets you’re bound to find the perfect gift. Many of Baths independent traders set up stall in the streets to sell all manner of crafts. Now in its tenth year the market has become hugely popular and continues to grow every year.

Durham
2 – 4 December 2011

Stalls line the streets of this cathedral city selling all manner of wares. There is also a Local Producers Food Fair within the cloisters of Durham Cathedral and a large marquee on the Palace Green houses 170 stalls. You can even see, and hear, brass bands, choirs and a children’s lantern procession through the city streets in this festive weekend.

Look after your presents

While it’s always fun to think about the presents you’re going to buy for people and plan where you want to get them, don’t forget to spend a little time considering what might happen should gifts get lost or stolen, either while you’re out and about or while storing them at home. The good news is that your home insurance could cover your gifts because insurers recognise that almost everyone is buying and storing presents ready for the big day, and they increase your cover accordingly.

However, always check with your contents insurance provider because not all policies will have it, and the amount of extra cover can vary from company to company, as will the length of time the cover lasts for. It’s also worth checking for exclusions on types of items or even contacting your insurer to get specific items listed.

Some home contents insurance policies cover items while their out of the home – your laptop, for example, could be covered if you take it away with you for a weekend – and this cover could extend to purchases made on a shopping trip. Once again, check what your policy does and does not cover, and if in doubt, contact your provider to be sure.

Maybe the best way to cover purchased items while out and about, is to get travel insurance as these policies have specific cover for gifts. UK travel insurance typically costs very little – just a few small pounds – so is unlikely to break the budget, but check with the provider what they do and do not cover to be sure of getting the policy you need.

But whatever you do, wherever you go, and whichever gifts you choose to give, here’s hoping you have a great time this Christmas.

This post was written by Rob Powell from Confused.com – get home and travel insurance online.

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