11 of the best Christmas markets in Britain

Manchester Christmas Market sign

Twinkling lights, mulled wine, a festive atmosphere and fabulous gifts – Britain’s Christmas markets are back this year and bigger and better than ever before. Set in some of Britain’s loveliest cities, a visit to a Christmas market is equal parts shopping experience, equal parts destination discovery.

 

Winter Wonderland, London

Transforming one of London’s spectacular parks, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland offers a festive paradise in the heart of the city. Home to the world’s tallest transportable observation wheel, a Magical Ice Kingdom and an array of comedic acts at its own Comedy Club, in addition to Britain’s largest open air ice rink and plenty of bars and food stalls, there’s something for all the family to enjoy. Enjoy jaw-dropping circus acts and don’t miss the arrival of Paddington on Ice, a stunning show combining cutting-edge choreography, toe-tapping music and impressive costumes that is being performed in the UK for the first time!

When? 21 November – 5 January

Also check out: The festive window displays at Hamleys, Selfridge’s and Harrods, plus the capital’s festive lights around the shopping hubs of Regent’s Street and Oxford Street

 

Bath Christmas Market, south-west England

For historic-ambience-meets-winter-style, head to Bath Christmas Market, as more than 150 pop-up chalets set up on the city’s pretty Georgian streets. Visitors can expect a real treasure trove of gifts to take home, whether that’s jewellery, homewares or decorations. Last year more than 80% of stallholders came from Bath and south-west England, while 99% of all products were handmade in Britain or abroad with Fairtrade certification, so this is very much an eco-savvy shopping experience. There’s always new stalls to explore as well as the perennial favourites, while visitors can fill empty bellies with a range of festive food from The Lodge in the heart of the market.

When? 28 November – 15 December

Also check out: Bath on Ice, the festive ice rink that runs from 15 November to 5 January 2020, and Glow in the Dark mini golf; the Christmas Trail at Prior Park Landscape Garden during December; and Shoppers’ Carols at Bath Abbey on various dates throughout the festive season.

 

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, central England

A firm favourite on the city’s yuletide calendar, Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria. Expect a fine range of traditional, personalised gifts and products on its 80 stalls and get into the German spirit while feasting on schnitzels, bratwursts, glühwein and weissbeer. Another huge draw is its bandstand location in Victoria Square and the programme of live music and carol singers that’s set to bring the party atmosphere to festive shopping.

When? 7 November – 23 December 2019

Also check out: Outdoor skating at Ice Rink Birmingham plus the Big Wheel Experience from 7 November to 12 January 2020, or head to Enchanted Weston, an illuminated, after-dark experience in stunning parkland with live music and food, running from 13 to 21 December.

 

Edinburgh Christmas Market, Scotland

Even if paying a visit after Christmas, guests still get the chance to enjoy some festive treats as Edinburgh’s Christmas market continues until early January as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas, a six-week programme of entertainment in the city centre. While it’s not open on Christmas Day, it is open until 8pm on Christmas Eve so bring plenty of bags to fill up with goodies such as arts and crafts, foodie treats and traditional or bespoke Christmas products. The market itself takes place in East Princes Street Gardens, guaranteeing some gorgeous views of Edinburgh Castle in the background and easy access to some of the city’s major attractions.

When? 16 November 2019 – 4 January 2020

Also check out: The Big Wheel and funfair rides on East Princes Street Gardens; and an adaption of Charles Dickens classic An Edinburgh Christmas Carol at the Lyceum (28 November 2019 – 4 January 2020).

 

Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland

Set against the backdrop of one of the Northern Irish capital’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall, the Belfast Christmas Market returns in 2019 with its enviable mix of artisan products and stalls groaning with tasty treats from international cuisines in its outdoor food court. Indulge in crepes, a hog roast, glühwein and continental cheeses, then make it a truly Northern Irish experience and visit Lavery’s traditional Irish bar for fantastic live music to really get in the Christmas spirit. Kids will love riding the vintage carousel or zipping down the helter skelter, as well as taking a trip to visit Santa in his magical grotto.

When? 16 November – 22 December 2019

Also check out: A Christmas Carol at arts and culture hub The Mac (27 November 2019 – 5 January 2020), and Christmas Wonderland at outdoor adventure centre The Jungle.

 

South Bank Winter Festival, London

The popular Winter Market returns to London’s Southbank Centre, a seasonal pleasure that sits alongside a range of family shows and festive fun as the banks of the River Thames become a winter wonderland. All along the South Bank are strings of decorations and cute illuminated wooden cabins selling Christmas gifts, from the quirky to the traditional, as well as mince pies, spiced cider and steaming mugs of mulled wine and hot chocolate. Global cuisines are available too, in the form of festive treats to gift or to eat there and then. Make sure to grab a selfie by the huge Christmas tree!

When? 8 November 2019 – 5 January 2020

Also check out: The fantastic performances available at the Southbank Centre, from Christmas concerts and choir performances to a children’s retelling of Black Beauty (14 December 2019 – 5 January 2020) and circus entertainment with Circus 1903 (19 December 2019 – 5 January 2020).

 

Cardiff Christmas Market, south Wales

Set across five streets of Cardiff’s pedestrianised city centre, Cardiff’s Christmas Market will be in full swing from mid-November, leaving plenty of time to find the perfect gift among its stalls. Its ethos is hosting stallholders selling original, hand-made products and artists and crafts people selling their work. There are plenty of food and drink options available among the 200+ stallholders and there’ll be music, festive lights and entertainment transforming the streets.

When? 14 November – 23 December 2019

Also check out: Santa Tours at the Principality Stadium (4 – 24 December 2019) or choose from various Christmas shows at St David’s Hall throughout December.

 

Manchester Christmas Markets, north-west England

The 20th instalment of the Manchester Christmas Markets will take over locations across the city from mid-November, meaning visitors won’t be far from festive gifts and delicious food and drink stalls selling traditional bratwurst, hog roast, paella and much more. There will be more than 300 stalls and chalets across the city, with the heart of the markets found in Albert Square. Visitors can follow the trail and pick up jewellery, toys, plants, bags, homeware and fun, quirky gifts at a variety of markets, including a French market, a German market, a World Christmas market and a dedicated Arts & Crafts market.

When? 8 November – 21 December 2019 (Albert Square stalls open until 22 December)

Also check out: Winter Funland, which will be held at an indoor venue and include fairground attractions, an ice rink, a circus and other fun performances (6 December 2019 – 3 January 2020); Halle’s (Manchester’s Orchestra’s) Christmas Concerts at Bridgewater Hall and Ice Village Manchester, the UK's biggest-ever ice attraction which includes an Arctic Tiki Bar, Santa's Grotto and an ice rink (8 November 2019 - 5 January 2020).

 

Leeds Christkindelmarkt, north England

Millennium Square in Leeds is transformed for the city’s annual Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market, with the addition of more than 40 traditionally decorated wooden chalets. Browse through hand-crafted jewellery and festive decorations, tuck into authentic German food and feel extra festive with a ride on the popular Christmas Carousel. For those still feeling hungry, visit the Alp Chalet restaurant in the centre of the market, a Bavarian style eatery offering a delectable selection of traditional food and drink, alongside evening entertainment.

When? 8 November – 21 December 2019

Also check out: Thor’s Tipi in Victoria Gardens, a pop-up tipi bar offering an array of winter warming drinks; the massed voices of Inspiration Choir as they join forces with the Orchestra of Opera North for Inspiration: A Christmas Extravaganza at Leeds Town Hall (21 December 2019); and the Leeds Playhouse festive production of The Night Before Christmas (30 November - 28 December 2019).

 

Winchester Christmas Market, south England

With its unique location in the shadow of Winchester’s great cathedral, Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market is widely regarded as one of Europe’s best. More than 100 chalets are home to hand-picked exhibitors offering exclusive gifts that visitors won’t find on the high street – from hand-crafted decorations and festive treats to craft beer and mulled wine.

When? 21 November – 22 December 2019

Also check out: Skate around the city’s covered Christmas Ice Rink (21 November 2019 – 2 January 2020) and marvel at the glittering Christmas tree in its centre; or visit the Ginchester Christmas Market (7 December 2019), a celebration of the region’s diverse spirits including local gin, whisky, vodka and rum.

 

The Victorian Christmas Festival at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, south England

Travel back in time for three days of festive fun at the Victorian Christmas Festival, held in the impressive surroundings of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This year marks 20 years of Christmas magic, with the festival home to 120 market stalls selling all sorts of festive treats, an array of Victorian street performers and the chance to meet Father Christmas.

When? 29 November – 1 December 2019

Also check out: Mix up a treat as the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower hosts two Christmas Cocktail Parties (7 and 13 December 2019); Meet Father Christmas at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum (14 December 2019) and enjoy lashings of festive fun during the That’ll Be The Day Christmas Show at Kings Theatre (18 December 2019).

 

 

Britain’s top Game of Thrones® and medieval experiences

The epic television phenomenon Game of Thrones® returned this week for its 8th and final series, with the surviving characters set to battle it out for their seat on the Iron Throne. Based on the novel series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin, HBO’s mega hit is renowned for its stunning filming locations, incredible battle scenes and unexpected twists.

Northern Ireland has provided the spectacular backdrop for a host of influential scenes throughout the series, and alongside visiting the locations, there are an abundance of fantastic Game of Thrones® and medieval experiences spread across Britain for visitors to enjoy.

Experiences in Northern Ireland

The Game of Thrones® Tapestry

Already eclipsing the length of the famed Bayeux Tapestry, the Game of Thrones® Tapestry at the Ulster Museum details every key moment from the monumental series. Designed and finished by hand but weaved by a state-of-the-art machine, the tapestry reveals the highlights of every episode from Seasons 1-7 on linen sourced from Ferguson’s Irish Linen, one of Northern Ireland’s last surviving linen mills. The Season 8 panel is set to be completed once the show reaches its finale.

When? On display until 28 July 2019

Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition

The official exhibition of the HBO show comes to the TEC Belfast in April, providing an in-depth look into the world of Westeros and beyond. From authentic props and sets to weapons and armour, Game of Thrones™: The Touring Exhibition uses an array of immersive environments and interactive displays to transport visitors to the heart of the Seven Kingdoms.

When?  11 April – 1 September (April to May, 10am-7pm; June to September, 9am-8pm)

Glass of Thrones

 

Visitors to Belfast can now discover a brand new installation, Glass of Thrones. As each episode of Season 8 airs, a beautifully crafted, freestanding stained-glass window will be placed in a location in the city. Illustrated by hand and stained by an artist in Bangor, Wales, each window focuses on a House from the show and depicts the most exciting and talked-about moments from the family’s history. The first window, unveiled on 15 April, focuses on the Starks. By the end of Series 8, the windows will form a new Game of Thrones® trail, leading fans across the city to the final window at the Titanic Studios, where much of the show has been produced.
 

When? 15 April onwards

Doors of Thrones

Having been hit hard by Storm Gertrude in 2016, felled trees from the Game of Thrones® filming location known as The Dark Hedges were carved into 10 intricately designed pub doors, each telling the story of an episode in Game of Thrones® Season 6. Each door is set near to one of Northern Ireland’s filming locations for the hit show, allowing visitors to embark on a Journey of Doors from Cairncastle and Cushendun Caves to pubs and hotels in Belfast, Ballintoy and Newcastle, among other locations.

When? Year-round (pub and cafe opening times vary)

Explore Castle Ward

Used as Winterfell when filming Season 1 of Game of Thrones®, Castle Ward is packed full of exciting themed experiences for fans to enjoy. Home to the Stark family in the hit show, visitors can dress up in full costume and fire arrows at a replica of the Winterfell Archery Range that has been carefully recreated in the courtyard. Cycle around the many filming locations as part of a cycle tour or visit the Winterfell Master-at-Arms for Game of Throws, an axe throwing experience new for 2019. Alternatively, fans can meet the real Direwolves, Odin and Thor, as part of the Direwolves tour, providing unique insight into the dog breed used for filming.

When? Year-round (booking in advance is required)

Giant Tours Ireland

Explore Northern Ireland’s lesser-known filming locations on a specialist tour with Giant Tours Ireland with Flip, the stand-in for Hodor during Season 6. The private tours take in many of the filming points that larger tour groups do not have the time or space to see, allowing fans to immerse themselves in the mysterious and beautiful backdrops that Game of Thrones® is renowned for.

When? Tours on selected days throughout the year (booking in advance is required)

Tour Tollymore Forest

Venture into Tollymore Forest Park and discover all of the different scenes it features in as part of an exciting guided tour. Be transported to the Haunted Forest north of the wall as part of the immersive experience, set foot on The Kingsroad and explore The Wolfswood near Winterfell while donning Stark coats for added effect.

When? Daily tours at 10am and 3pm (advance booking is required)

Be amazed by The Dark Hedges

Having featured as The Kingsroad on the path to King’s Landing, The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland is one of the country’s most photographed spots. The rows of mature beech trees on either side of Bregagh Road in County Antrim date back to the 18th century and helped form the setting for Arya Stark’s escape, cementing their place in Game of Thrones® folklore.

When? Year-round

Find out more about Game of Thrones® filming locations at discovernorthernireland.com/gameofthrones. Alternatively, download the interactive app to discover all 26 incredible filming locations at discovernorthernireland.com/things-to-do/attractions/game-of-thrones/game-of-thrones-app/

Please note, the aforementioned experiences in Northern Ireland are independently run and are not affiliated with, sponsored or endorsed by HBO, nor anyone associated with Game of Thrones®

Experiences in Scotland

Discover the secrets of Winterfell

Take a unique guided tour of Winterfell at Doune Castle in Scotland, the stunning backdrop used throughout Game of Thrones® and also featured in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Explore one of Scotland’s best preserved castles, its huge Great Hall and exquisite courtyard design.

When? Tours run throughout the year (advance booking is required)

See falconry in action

Get hands-on with owls, buzzards, hawks, falcons and eagles as part of tailor-made bird of prey experiences with Falconry Scotland. Operating on an appointment-only basis from two sites, Dalhousie Castle Hotel and Spa and another at Shieldaig Lodge in the West Highlands, expert falconers provide flying demonstrations and handling sessions, as well as archery experiences.

When? Dalhousie Falconry operates year round; Shieldaig Lodge opens from 12 April 2019 (booking in advance is required)

Axe Throwing for all

Competitors of all abilities, ages and nationalities can compete at the Axe Throwing Scottish Open 2019, held in the beautiful grounds of Scone Palace. Participants across various categories can camp on site, while the Scottish Knight League is also hosting a Medieval Fighting Championship.

When? 4-5 May

Experiences in England

Walk the real life wall

Built by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago, Hadrian’s Wall once marked the border of England’s wild northern frontier. Much like the Wall in Game of Thrones®, the historic landscape and its crumbling forts remains an imposing sight. The best-preserved Roman site in the country at Housesteads Fort, the Temple of Mithras near Brocolitia Fort and the impressive Vindolanda Museum all provide a fascinating look into the region’s turbulent past.

When? Year-round (Housesteads Fort is open 10am-4pm in the winter, extended to 10am-6pm from March - September; the Vindolanda Museum is open daily 10am-5pm in the winter, extended to 10am-6pm from April - September)

Find adventure at Warwick Castle

Journey back to medieval England with a stay at Warwick Castle’s Knight’s Village, a set of themed tents, lodges and suites where guests can sleep like royalty. Take a trip through 1,000 years of history during the immersive Castle Dungeon experience, featuring carefully created sets and surprising special effects alongside a cast of historic characters. Or venture outside to see the world’s largest siege machine in action – a colossal replica of a Trebuchet that is fired in the shadow of Warwick Castle’s walls.

When? Warwick Castle opens at 10am (closing times vary depending on dates and events)

Fight it out in Battle Archery

Mixing the skills of archery with the tactics of paintballing, Battle Archery is a thrilling action-packed game using bows and foam-tipped safety arrows. Based in Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park, different mission scenarios require a range of different strategies, but the soft arrows make for a pain-free experience.

When? Weekends and selected weekdays on request (booking in advance is required)

Experience a medieval banquet

Dine with knights, acrobats and jesters as part of an immersive banquet-theatre experience in St Katherine Docks, London. Don period dress and enjoy a song and dance while tucking into a Medieval Banquet as part of a fantasy meal out to remember.

When? Wednesday to Saturday at 7.15pm, Sunday at 5.15pm

Develop swashbuckling sword skills

Try out sword fighting at the London Longsword Academy, providing an opportunity to master a diverse set of medieval and Renaissance weapon styles. Get hands on with a longsword, messer, rapier or dagger in a safe and controlled environment that welcomes everyone from beginners to expert martial artists.

When? Classes take place on weekday evenings using different weaponry

Celebrate history at a Medieval Festival

See history brought to life at medieval festivals across England, while marking famous battles and discovering what life was like in medieval times. England’s Medieval Festival fills the grounds of Herstmonceux Castle, in East Sussex, and features everything from re-enactments and jousting to stage shows, music and dance, camping and medieval banquets. The Bosworth Medieval Festival provides a modern take on the battle, alongside a medieval market, a living history encampment and author talks, while the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival includes a dramatic re-enactment and impressive Sunday parade. Colchester Medieval Festival and Oyster Fayre Market features an array of period stalls and a combat arena where visitors can watch demonstrations of arms and armour. The annual Traquair Medieval Fayre hosts a cannon firing display and demonstrations of ancient crafts, giving visitors the opportunity to try their hand at willow weaving, watch chainmail making in action or trial Longbow archery. A sword and shield making workshop should keep children entertained too.

When? 25 May (Traquair Medieval Fayre), 15-16 June (Colchester Medieval Festival), 13-14 July (Tewkesbury Medieval Festival), 17-18 August (Bosworth Medieval Festival) 24-26 August (England’s Medieval Festival)

Watch jousting in action

Hear the crash of lances and the thunder of hooves as armoured horsemen go head to head in jousting tournaments across Britain. The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is hosting the International Jousting Tournament, with knights from four nations set to battle it out for the ultimate prize. Watch as jousting lances splinter at Leeds Castle in May, or catch two weekends of medieval mayhem at the Loxwood Joust in August, packed full of workshops, experiences and delicious food to feast on. Kent’s Hever Castle also hosts regular jousting tournaments throughout July and August.

When? 19-22 April (Royal Armouries Museum); 25-27 May (Leeds Castle); 3-4 and 10-11 August (Loxwood Joust); 13-14, 20-21 and 27-28 July, 10-11, 17-18 and 23-26 August (Hever Castle).

Take a seat at the Knight’s Table

Sample delightful food at Arundel’s Knight’s Table Restaurant, with a menu that features classic meals from the bygone era, alongside more contemporary options. Think rotisserie chicken, delicious pies and a hog roast, as well as a carvery on selected days. Just what is needed after a visit to the spectacular Arundel Castle.

When? Wednesday to Sunday (opening times vary on those days)

See knights fight it out

Be transported back to the heart of a medieval encampment and watch as rival knights battle it out at Bolsover Castle’s Knight’s Tournament in May. Try on armour, discover more about the Middle Ages and get a taste for old-fashioned combat before the winning knight is crowned in the Grand Finale.

When? 25-27 May

Experiences in Wales

Feast in Welsh tradition at Ruthin Castle

The medieval feasts at Ruthin Castle take diners back to when the Earl of Warwick hosted extravagant feasts during the 16th century. Guests are encouraged to dress in traditional clothes and are entertained in the banqueting hall with a mix of Welsh and English song. Expect an evening of dining with daggers while toasting with mead and goblets of wine.

When? Feasts take place on a selected day or two each month

Venture into the dragon’s lair at Caerphilly

Come face to face with dragons at Caerphilly Castle! The 12th-century fortress is home to the Cadw dragon family, a set of incredible dragon models that form part of an audio-visual display. A set of medieval-inspired siege engines regularly catapult ammunition into the moat of Wales’ largest castle too, demonstrating the incredible engineering and ingenuity that existing in the medieval period.

When? Year-round (opening times vary by season)

Top ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day

Britain will be awash with green in mid-March as St Patrick’s Day celebrations sweep across the major cities. Marking the death of the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick, communities in Ireland and across the Irish diaspora come together to celebrate on 17 March – a Sunday in 2019 – with a host of colourful parades, exciting musical performances and a wealth of other events.

London

London marks St Patrick’s Day with an annual parade through the capital’s streets, featuring striking decorative floats, incredible marching bands and performances from Irish dancing schools and sports clubs. The 1.5-mile procession meanders its way from Piccadilly past some of London’s most iconic landmarks on its ways to Whitehall. As a celebration of London’s diversity and welcome, the theme for 2019’s parade is #LondonIsOpen.

The St Patrick’s Day Festival packs Trafalgar Square from midday and features performances from renowned Irish artists and special guests, alongside an abundance of craft stalls, delicious food and a family friendly area in Pall Mall offering themed workshops and activities.

When? 17 March (St Patrick’s Day Festival, 12pm – 6pm)

Manchester

A stunning parade from the Irish World Heritage Centre to Albert Square is the focal point for the Manchester Irish Festival, which runs from the start of March and culminates on St Patrick’s Day. Featuring an array of floats and representation from each of the Irish counties, the Manchester Irish Festival Parade is one of many events held in the city. The Manchester Irish Festival Market takes pride of place in front of Manchester Town Hall, offering Irish foods, crafts and souvenirs in abundance, as well as children’s rides and entertainment.

The Castlefield Hotel is also hosting a St Patrick’s night whisky tasting and 3-course supper, featuring a delectable range of Irish themed food and a selection of fine Irish whisky.

When? 1-17 March (Manchester Irish Festival), 7-10 March (Manchester Irish Festival Market), 10 March (Manchester Irish Festival Parade), 15 March (Whisky Tasting)

Birmingham

A week-long festival in the build up to St Patrick’s Day celebrates diversity and multiculturalism in Birmingham. The launch night event, featuring traditional Irish music and dance, a delightful 4-course dinner and a performance from Birmingham Irish band Salt Creek gets proceedings underway, before the festival is completed with a spectacular parade around the Digbeth area of the city – taking place on St Patrick’s Day itself in 2019.

When? 9-17 March (9 March, launch night; 17 March, Parade at 12pm)

Edinburgh

Join the Scots Music Group for Café Ceilidh to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, an afternoon session of songs, poems, music and stories that recognise the patron saint. The Cowgate St Patrick’s Festival is another cause for celebration, taking place over 3 days at 5 venues and performance spaces.

When? 19 March (Scots Music Group), 15-17 March (Cowgate St Patrick’s Festival)

Belfast

Eye-catching floats and performers in magnificent costumes form just part of Belfast’s spectacular carnival parade as it weaves its way from Belfast City Hall to Writers Square. An open air concert in Custom House Square will follow, headlined by the Vengaboys and including an array of Irish artists showcasing traditional music, dance and song. St George’s Market will offer traditional Irish food and music, as well as plenty of handmade crafts.

When? 17 March (Carnival Parade, 12.30pm; Custom House Square, 1.15pm; St George’s Market, 10am – 4pm)

Newcastle

Paddy Fest will return to the heart of Newcastle city centre for St Patrick’s Day 2019, featuring 4 days of events and entertainment. Beginning with Let’s Play Darts, cheese festival Cheesetoon will follow on Friday with 25 stalls offering an array of cheesy concoctions. Saturday of Paddy Fest will feature authentic Irish bands and a handful of DJs, as well as screens showing the final matches of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, before the event is rounded off with the biggest Bongo’s Bingo! to be held in the north-west of England, taking place in Times Square.

When? 14-17 March

Liverpool

Liverpool will march to the sound of drums, flutes and pipe bands on St Patrick’s Day, as the annual parade makes its way from the Old Irish Centre in Mount Pleasant into the centre of the city.

When? 17 March (12pm-3pm)

Armagh

The Home of Saint Patrick Festival showcases Irish culture, song and dance, and recognises the leading role that St Patrick had in converting Ireland to Christianity many centuries ago. Both the Armagh Robinson Library and Armagh County Museum host an array of artefacts, manuscripts, collections and rare books that relate to the role of the city in early Christian Ireland. An abundance of cultural events take place throughout the festival period, including parades, lectures, concerts and church services.

When? 8-18 March

Top UK festivals for beer, wine and spirits

Britain is renowned for its craft beers, fine spirits and delightful mixology, while the growth of its wine industry continues to gather pace. With ‘Dry January’ at an end, those keen to sample the best of Britain’s alcohol can enjoy an abundance of incredible festivals for beer, wine and spirits throughout 2019, all of which provide ample opportunity to discover innovative concoctions and perhaps even a new tipple of choice…

Great British Gin Festival

The Great British Gin Festival will continue its tour of Britain in 2019, bringing 100 different gins from around the world to a range of locations. With cocktail demos and presentations from industry producers, they’ll be a generous helping of flavoured gins to test the taste buds, all with a background of live music.

When? On selected Fridays and Saturdays throughout 2019: 9 February (Hartlepool), 23 February (Winchester), 9 March (Portsmouth), 23 March (Ipswich), 29 March (Northamptonshire), 12 April (Bristol), 20 April (Hastings), 20 April (Edinburgh), 4 May (Belfast), 17 May (Birmingham), 25 May (Isle of Wight), 1 June (Cardiff), 7 June (Maidstone), 22 June (Newcastle), 29 June (London), 13 July (Nottingham), 27 July (Jersey)

Craft Beer Rising   

Tantalise your taste buds at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, as Craft Beer Rising brings together more than a hundred of the finest craft brewers and ten cider producers. Alongside established names from the craft beer world, such as Brewdog, London Fields Brewery and Tiny Rebel, the festival will also welcome Brooklyn Brewery and Goose Island from the United States. Visitors can sample an array of delicious street food in The Foxes Den and enjoy live music across all three days of the event.

When? 21-23 February

The Wine and Spirits Show

Following an extremely popular show in autumn 2018, in April this year The Wine and Spirits Show returns to One Whitehall Place, part of the iconic The Royal Horseguards hotel in Westminster. Sample masterclasses from major wine and spirit brands, meet up with boutique wine producers and discover more about the fantastic history of Champagne. Head to the Global Masters Zone to find out more about prestigious entries into Global Masters competitions, sample a range of brews from every continent as part of the Global Beer Tour Zone, or visit the Spirits Hall – home to award-winning vodka, whisky, tequila, bourbon and more.

When? 12-13 April

London Whisky Weekender

Try an array of the finest home-grown Scottish whiskies, alongside brands from all corners of the globe at the London Whisky Weekender. With set sessions at the Kia Oval to ensure things don’t get too crowded, try the finest whiskies that India, Japan, the USA and Taiwan (among many others) have to offer, or purchase ‘under the counter dram tokens’ to sample rarer, more exclusive tipples.

When? 10-12 May

Prosecco Springs

The UK’s largest festival dedicated to sparkling wine, Prosecco Springs, will return to London’s Oval Space in May. With more producers on the bill than in previous years, visitors can sample authentic Italian street food, live music and an abundance of Prosecco in the heart of East London.

When? 17-19 May

Fyne Fest    

The annual celebration of beer, food and music at the Fyne Ales brewery estate in Cairndow, Argyll marks its tenth year in 2019. Having won Beer event of the Year at the 2018 Scottish Beer Awards, the family-friendly festival welcomes people of any age and has plenty of space for visitors to pitch tents or park up in motorhome and caravans. Fyne Fest will have more than 200 beers from over 50 of Europe’s breweries available to try, as well as a wealth of cider, cocktails, wines and spirits. Three stages host live music while 11 local and award-winning producers provide the food.

When? 31 May - 3 June

Festival of Wine 

Having originated in Glasgow in 2002, wine expert Tom Cannavan’s popular festival has expanded to take in three cities across Britain. The Festival of Wine features tastings and masterclasses in city centre locations from top winemakers, retailers and importers, allowing visitors to discover great wines and to learn the stories behind them.

When? 29 June (Glasgow), 19 October (London), 9 November (Edinburgh)

Great British Beer Festival

Developed by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the Great British Beer Festival showcases more than 900 real ales and craft beers from around the world, of which more than half come from British brewers. Having operated for more than 40 years, the festival is run by hundreds of volunteers and also serves an array of ciders, fine wines, perries and gin from more than 30 bars. Tutored tasting sessions reveal more about the brews on offer, with each brewery also competing for the prestigious title of 2019 Champion Beer of Britain.

When? 6-10 August

Indy Man Beer Con

Hosted in the glorious surroundings of Victoria Baths in Manchester, Independent Manchester Beer Convention will return for its eighth year in October. Welcoming breweries from across Britain, and a sprinkling of those from elsewhere in the world, the event features an eclectic mix of tasting sessions and a food village packed with delicacies from around the region.

When? 3-6 October

RumFest

Showcasing more than 400 rums from across the world, RumFest returns to the ILEC conference centre in Earls Court, London, for its thirteenth year in 2019. Expect intimate seminars from some of the industry’s leading lights, an array of delicious food tastings, live music and holiday giveaways as part of a carnival-like experience.

When? 19-20 October

Craft Beer Calling 

Bringing together an abundance of craft breweries under one roof, Newcastle’s Wylam Brewery will host the sixth edition of Craft Beer Calling in late October. As well as a Gin Palace and an artisan cider cellar, visitors can talk with the brewery staff to find out more about their favourite tipples before indulging at the on-site street food market.

When? 24-26 October

The Wine Festival 

Featuring hundreds of wines from English wine producers and some from further afield, Winchester Guildhall hosts The Wine Festival, a selection of tasters, masterclasses, street food and merchandise. Masters of Wine and TV presenters, Susie Barry and Peter Richards, host the event, imparting their expert knowledge while visitors discover exciting new wines.

When? 29-30 November