Christmas Markets and Fairs in Wales
Christmas markets are popping up all over Wales during November and December. The scent of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts fills the air. Artisan food producers and craftspeople are donning seasonal knitwear and filling their stalls with tempting goodies. Santa is in his grotto, checking his list to see if you’ve been naughty or – we confidently predict - nice. Let the festivities begin! Here’s just a selection of the many markets, fairs and seasonal shopping opportunities coming your way…
Cardiff Christmas Market by Cardiff CouncilCardiff transforms into a ‘Christmas city’ as around 80 stalls with a rolling programme of 200 exhibitors take centre stage at Cardiff Christmas Market. There’s a strong slant towards artists and craftspeople, whose hand-made wares appear alongside artisan food and drink producers – so it’s a great opportunity to buy one-of-a-kind gifts direct from the clever person who made/painted/baked/brewed it. The main action happens around the pedestrianised streets at the top of The Hayes, right in the heart of the shopping area. It’s also a short stroll from Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland, which runs until early January.
In mid November, the ‘Queen of Welsh resorts’ hosts North Wales’ biggest Christmas market, with more than 165 stalls lining Madoc Street, Augusta Street and Trinity Square Street for Llandudno Christmas Fayre. There’ll be a feast of local food, handmade gifts and arts along with craft demonstrations and a Santa’s grotto for the children to enjoy. There’s a distinctly Dickensian charm to the proceedings, which also includes the World Bara Brith Championships, a hotly-contested tournament to find the champion baker of Wales’ speckled tea time favourite.
Every shop, boutique, gallery, café, bar and pub throws opens its doors until late at Llandeilo’s annual Festival of the Senses, held in mid November. It’s become hugely popular locally, drawing in thousands of revellers to enjoy not just the shopping experience, but also live entertainment, fireworks, and the arrival of Santa’s sleigh. And as if that’s not enough, the winner of this year’s Tywi’s Got Talent competition will be performing.
The stunning Italianate fantasy village opens its doors for three days in early December to a whole load of Welsh merriment and wonder. Portmeirion hosts a range of exhibitors specialising in local produce, music makers galore and plenty of cooking demonstrations to inspire your Christmas feast. There’ll be more than 120 Welsh artisan stalls to tempt you, a magical Christmas Grotto, a giant gingerbread village and an elf dash (that’s a fun run for kids, in case you were wondering…).
Swansea Waterfront Winterland by Swansea Council Christmas begins in mid-November in Swansea when the Waterfront Winterland opens and the Christmas Market takes over Oxford Street and Princess Way. A Swansea Christmas just wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Waterfront Winterland. Open until 6 January, it’s a ‘must-visit’ attraction for all the family - think ice skating with the kids, lots of funfair action and festive food. Santa will be in his Grotto on Portland Street from 17 November to 23 December to grant Christmas wishes and spread festive cheer to the children of Swansea.
The Hay Festival people are running a mini-version of their iconic event over this Winter Weekend, with the usual high-quality literary and musical fare. Quite apart from that, there are lots of Christmassy happenings in the town. On Friday the lights are turned on, with local choirs, mulled wine and mince pies, and late opening for shops selling Christmas treats. On Saturday the Hay Food Festival takes place in the Market Square, with more than 40 exhibitors, music, crafts, and a guest appearance by Santa. On Sunday, clothing and costume treasures are up for grabs at the Vintage Fair. There’ll be entertainment by local brass bands, choirs and folk musicians all weekend.
A selection of products on sale at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s annual Winter Craft & Gift Fair by Aberystwyth Arts CentreAberystwyth Arts Centre’s annual Winter Craft & Gift Fair opens daily for eight weeks around Christmas, with more than 80 stalls sellling jewellery, ceramics, woodwork, photography, prints, metalwork, slate, textiles and food – and it’s mostly made by local artisans. If you’re going to pick one day to visit, go on 24 November, when there’s a terrific food fair selling the very best of Welsh cheese, meats, fish, wine, cider, pastries, puddings, jams and more. It’s the perfect place to stock up on a few gastronomic goodies in the run up to Christmas.
Filling the high street with Christmas festivities is the Bargoed Winter Fair, held towards the end of November This free event serves up a giant Christmas pudding-sized portion of stalls, selling everything from scrumptious chocolates to jewellery and unique Christmas decorations. There will also be funfair rides and children’s activities, Santa’s real reindeers, falconry, donkeys and street entertainment.
Dinefwr Traditional Christmas Fair
Having arrived in Llandeilo the previous weekend, Santa’s sticking around to enjoy the National Trust's annual Christmas bash in elegant Newton House. There’ll be festive choirs and bands, complimentary mulled wine and mince pies, tasty treats, local produce and handmade gifts and crafts. There are also plenty of National Trust festive events around Wales - visit their events page to find out where.
The Vale of Glamorgan’s chichiest, boutiquiest (not a real word) town kicks off Christmas with this annual Reindeer Parade, held on the last Sunday of November. Father Christmas is pulled by live reindeer down High Street, accompanied by a mass of festive elves. The Christmas lights are switched on, fireworks are discharged, and several thousand revellers retire to the boutiques to give the plastic a good thrashing, and/or the local pubs and restaurants to celebrate the official start to the festive season.
in the heartlands of Welsh farming country in Builth Wells, the Royal Welsh Winter Fair shows off the best of British farming as well as poultry, hounds and farriery demonstrations, 300 stalls to browse and an opportunity of course to meet Santa in his grotto. Festive visitors can also experience the buzz of live auctions, livestock on display as well as many classes and competitions.
Food and craft stalls, entertainment and traditional funfair rides all feature in this year’s Blackwood Winter Fair. Families visiting Santa’s Grotto can also expect to meet elves and real reindeer before meeting Santa Claus himself (and receiving a special gift).
The ancient gardens at Aberglasney have been beautifully restored, and provide the perfect backdrop to the annual Winter Fair. There’s a free mince pie and mulled wine to enjoy as you stroll around, listening to the festive tunes courtesy of local bands and choirs. The grounds of the mansion are filled with over 100 stalls selling handmade Welsh gifts, crafts, Christmas decorations and tasty foods, perfect to stock up on for the holiday season.
This year Wrexham’s Victorian Christmas Market is bigger and better than ever, with around 100 stalls alongside Victorian themed rides and entertainment. It all happens in the most picturesque part of the town centre, where local producers will be on hand to take orders for Christmas turkeys or geese or to sell everything from pies, sausages, cakes, brownies, chocolates to local cheese, beers, cider and preserves, and toys, candles, clothing, jewellery, handbags, books, cards, crafts, gifts, seasonal plants and Christmas decorations. The parish church of St Giles becomes a real haven of warmth on a cold winter’s evening, with yet more stalls and refreshments served up with music and carols.
Here’s how Conwy gets everybody into the real spirit of Christmas: the Winterfest kicks off with a grand parade, led by the town’s jester, followed by armoured knights carrying blazing torches. There’s entertainment in the town square, the excellent array of shops stay open well into the evening, and the local pubs and restaurants are primed to offer sustenance to weary shoppers.
Caerphilly Christmas Market, South Wales by Caerphilly County Borough CouncilEnjoy two days of fun and festivities for all the family as Caerphilly transforms itself into a Christmas shopping paradise with over 100 food, drink and craft stalls. You’ll also find a farmer’s market, craft fayre, music, entertainment, Santa’s grotto and street theatre.