Twinkling lights, festive gift stalls, a hot mulled wine sipped in the cold… Germany’s Christmas market tradition has become a festive fixture in the UK in recent years.
But 2020 is a year unlike any other, and UK cities have been cancelling their Christmas markets left, right and centre amid fears about the spread of Covid-19.
Which UK Christmas markets are on this year?
Not many. The biggest cancellation is that of London’s Winter Wonderland, a market and fairground which usually sets up camp in Hyde Park.
City and town centre markets in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh, Bristol, Bath, Lincoln, Aberdeen, Winchester, Oxford, Padstow, Plymouth, Cheltenham and Stratford-upon-Avon have also been called off.
A few cities have yet to call off their markets. Sheffield Christmas Market is due to open on November 12th with extra space between stalls (though with South Yorkshire moving into tier 3 restrictions that may change).
Cardiff Christmas Market is also set to launch on November 12th, though this will depend on the outcome of the Welsh nationwide lockdown from 6pm on Friday 23th October until 12:01am Monday 9th November 2020.
Meanwhile Glasgow Christmas Market will reportedly go ahead, minus the usual Christmas light switch-on and fireworks display.
Exeter Christmas Market will make a decision this week about whether to go ahead.
Many cities are planning additional festive decorations to make up a little of the lost festive cheer.
Check your local authority website in case any online events or smaller-scale, socially distanced activities are being organised, such as the Christmas fair in Halifax.
There will also be privately-run days out to attend, such as the new Glow trail at RHS Hyde Hall near Chelmsford or Longleat House’s light show.
Can I go abroad for a Christmas market?
The situation overseas is much the same as in the UK; many events have been cancelled, though a few will take place.
The issue is where you can travel without having to self-isolate, and the list is currently limited.
As of 11:01pm on October 23rd, the UK will be placed into Germany’s “high risk” category, and so all arrivals will have to quarantine on arrival for 14 days.
A primary candidate could therefore be Sweden, where a quarantine is not required on either end.
The country is set to hold a variety of Christmas markets and activities this year, according to visitsweden.com, including at the open-air Skansen museum in Stockholm, the Stortorgets Julmarknad in the capital’s old district, and at the royal Drottningholm Palace.