Once we get into November, the Christmas decorations go up all around London, and the Christmas Markets come out onto the city’s streets. Unlike the usual markets selling vintage goods, food, or clothing, obviously, these are geared more towards the festive season. While some take on the normal look of market stalls, others look like little cottages decked out in lights and greenery. Still, others are parts of winter holiday festivals and can include rides and games. If you find yourself in London from November to December, be sure to check out one of these five Christmas Markets and let us know what some of your favorites are in the comments.
London Bridge City’s Christmas by the River
Found by the Thames, London Bridge City sets up a series of stalls that add to the beauty and charm of this space within view of Tower Bridge. Like most Christmas markets, it offers an array of Christmas and holiday-themed merchandise, food, and drink from Turkish the Lights to Christmas Puddings. Local bands and artists also make up the market, so it can be a good place to wander for a beautiful view of the Thames and shop some Christmas items without having to go to one of the winter fairs.
Speaking of winter fairs, Winterville is one of the larger winter fairs in London and worth spending some time during the holiday months. Held last year in Clapham Common, Winterville features an array of carnival rides and games as well as stalls featuring a number of local and independent crafts and goods. There are also plenty of bands, performances, film screenings, and other activities to capture your attention while you shop.
Leicester Square is a fun place year-round whether you’re visiting one of the cinemas, catching a glimpse of a star at a film premiere, or taking in one of the nearby shops. However, the square becomes something completely different when the holidays come around as it transforms into its own Christmas market village. Perhaps it’s the setting that makes this one of the more glitzy Christmas markets in the city and musical acts performing here have included Adele. You certainly won’t want to miss the visual spectacle and be sure to visit Santa in his Christmas Grotto if you’ve got the kids along.
Certainly the largest Christmas fair in the city, Winter Wonderland takes up a big chunk of Hyde Park every year and fills it with lights, rides, games, street food, drinks, and of course—Christmas markets. The market stalls at Winter Wonderland are almost exclusively dedicated to the holidays featuring an array of Christmas candies, unique crafts, and holiday decorations to fill your home. What’s more, you can guarantee that Hyde Park has the biggest Farris wheel of any of the city’s winter carnivals as well as an open-air ice rink for skating. Make sure you get some of the attraction tickets in advance, or you could be waiting a while for the ice palace.
Wintertime Christmas Market at Southbank Centre
Southbank Centre gets into the Christmas spirit with their Nordic-themed village every year sporting plenty of shops and cafes. The theme means that in addition to such goodies as mince pies, you can also enjoy German sausages or Swedish treats to have with your hot chocolate or spiced plum cider. The shops themselves are filled with a variety of items whether traditional or more bespoke pieces. Whatever reason you come for, Wintertime Market certainly feels like one of the most immersive experiences that London’s Christmas Markets have to offer.
If the thought of keeping the kids entertained this October half-term fills you with dred, have no fear! Holiday Lettings is here to help. We’ve rounded up 10 of the UK’s best places to take your tribe for a well-needed break, from half-term holidays in Tattershall to last-minute stays by the sea in Scarborough. Whether you want to spend some peaceful time together doing very little or let off steam with an action-packed week, booking a holiday rental in one of these fantastic destinations is sure to make your half-term a pleasure.
Family-friendly October half-term holidays
Kids will love having a free rein in a private holiday home, rather than the constraints of a hotel. Choose a spacious farmhouse with a large garden, a townhouse with bunk beds or a cottage close to the beach. Half-term holidays in October have never been so easy!
*Methodology: At Holiday Lettings (part of TripAdvisor), we used a special algorithm to see every review on TripAdvisor, identifying destinations across the UK with the highest percentage of reviews mentioning ‘October half-term’ holidays—leaving us with some of the best half-term breaks that travellers love.
#1 Bembridge, Isle of Wight
Whilst this charming resort on the most easterly point of the Isle of Wight is officially a village, it’s one of the largest in England, so you’ll find plenty of things to do on your October half-term holiday. There are three beautiful beaches to choose from; Lane End, the Ledge and Bembridge Beach. Kids will love exploring the rock pools, and the stunning panoramic views over the sea will leave you feeling refreshed. Other highlights include the lifeboat station, the National Trust-maintained windmill and the fantastic range of restaurants, cafes and pubs in the area.
Situated on the west bank of the River Torridge, this delightful town was once Britain’s third largest port. Bideford is just as lively today, and you’ll find antique shops, cafes and pastel-coloured houses along the narrow streets leading up from the quay. The town is perfect if you’re looking for a family half-term holiday the UK, as there is plenty to do. Take a boat trip to Lundy Island, follow the Tarka Trail to the stunning Exmoor National Park, or maybe head to the nearby BIG Sheep theme park; with its indoor playground, animal barn and gin distillery, it’ll keep the whole family entertained for hours!
For anyone seeking a good old fashioned seaside holiday this October half-term, Blackpool is definitely worth a look. With a range of attractions and activities on offer to please all ages, it’s a great choice for a family holiday. Toddlers will love meeting the animals at the nearby Penny Farm, while the excitement of Blackpool Pleasure Beach and The Big One rollercoaster will have teenagers grinning from ear to ear. Strictly fans can soak up the glamour at Blackpool Tower Ballroom, and Sandcastle Waterpark’s exciting slides and flumes will have the whole family coming back for more.
This pretty Cornish market town on the Camel River estuary is packed with things to do, whatever the weather, so it’s a top choice when it comes to October half-term holidays. On a sunny day, pack a picnic at your private holiday rental and cycle along the scenic Camel Trail towards Padstow. Potter around the town’s quirky independent shops and galleries before stopping for tea at a picturesque cafe. If you love nothing better than exploring a stunning historic house, spend the day at Pencarrow House and Gardens – a 17th-century pile just a couple of miles away. And if you’re looking for peace and tranquility, the unspoilt Lundy Bay beach is the perfect retreat.
In the heart of rural Lincolnshire, the unspoilt village of Tattershall is fast becoming a firm October-half term holiday favourite. Take a stroll around the marketplace and admire the 15th century octagonal Buttercross before stopping at a traditional pub for lunch. For more history, spend the day discovering Tattershall Castle where you’ll find grand fireplaces, Flemish tapestries and a magnificent red brick tower. If you want to get the adrenaline pumping, have a go at jet-skiing or wakeboarding at the stunning Tattershall Lakes.
Located on the beautiful Llŷn Peninsula, the little village of Abersoch offers its visitors the best of both worlds. The unspoilt coastline, art galleries and rich maritime history will keep anyone looking for a peaceful stay happy. Families looking for a fun-filled week won’t be disappointed either as nearby attractions include Glasfryn Parc, with its ten-pin bowling and soft play, and Plas yn Rhiw stately home, with its ornamental gardens and 17th-century rooms. At the end of a busy day, enjoy sea views from your coastal cottage or maybe a family barbecue at your private farmhouse rental.
With its long, flat sandy beaches, promenade and family-friendly dining options, Minehead is a superb choice for October half-term breaks. Spend the day building sandcastles or potter around the harbour with its RNLI station and pleasure boat cruises. Board a steam train and chug through the countryside on the West Somerset Railway. Or if you want to let off steam yourself, challenge the family to a few rounds of golf or try windsurfing along the waves. In the evening, take in a show at the Regal Theatre before eating out or tucking into a takeaway back at your holiday rental.
This idyllic coastal village in the South West of Anglesey has an award-winning sandy beach which is perfect for an autumnal walk with the family. It’s great for pet-friendly October half-term holidays too, as the beach has miles of space for four-legged friends to explore. If you love seafood, you’re in luck: Rhosneigr has plenty of seafood restaurants to choose from where you can enjoy local crab, lobster, mussels and sea bass. Couples will also love it here, as the boats bobbing in the harbour and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore is the perfect romantic setting. And with so many rentals to choose from picking a place to stay in Rhosneigr this October will be a breeze.
Nestled between world-renowned Holkham beach and Blakeney Point, the pretty harbour town of Wells-next-the-Sea is an ideal October half-term holiday destination. Wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element as Wells is part of the largest coastal nature reserve in England and Wales. The marshes provide the perfect habitat for wading birds, marsh harriers, winter geese and other stunning species, so be sure to take your binoculars! When you’re not busy ‘twitching’, take a stroll through the pinewoods to the sandy beach and treat the family to fish and chips. If you love fresh air and breathtaking scenery, you’ll love Wells-next-the-Sea.
For the quintessential British seaside holiday, book a holiday rental in Scarborough this October half-term. Visit the atmospheric castle to learn more about the town’s history, or listen to the calming sound of the waves while reading a book on the beach. Enjoy fish and chips on the promenade, watch a traditional Punch and Judy show or maybe take the kids for a donkey ride. Add to that the Sealife Centre, miniature railway and the waterpark, and you’ve got all the makings of a perfect half-term family holiday.
The Peak District is pretty much in the middle of England, and just off the M1. Close enough to be convenient but not too close that it doesn’t feel rural. It’s a wonderful place to visit with a family and here are 10 Things to do in the Peak District …
The Glory, God’s Own Junkyard, Notting Hill Carnival, Art Night, Bompas & Parr, your face on the cover of Time Out and more… The full line-up for our big bash is here
1. One gigantic gin cloud
Immerse yourself in the world’s biggest gin cloud, a creation from Sipsmith and Bompas & Parr that’s set to descend on Granary Square.
2-5. Four slamming DJs
Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor will headline a bill pulled together by King’s Cross music mecca Spiritland. Find Anne Frankenstein, Mr Shiver and Michelle Kelly on the decks too.
6. A party-starting, lip-syncing drag troupe East London party collective
The Glory is bringing a gang of artistes to the party for a greatest hits lip-sync show. Yass, queens!
7-14. Eight mouthwatering street food traders
We’re teaming up with Kerb to bring you simply the best bill of street food that London’s ever seen.
15. One ginny welcome drink
Sipsmith is treating all attendees to a gin-fuelled autumnal sundowner (included in the price of the ticket). Cheers!
16. A sneak peek at immersive supperclub Gingerline
Upgrade your ticket to experience an exclusive preview of supperclub crew Gingerline’s next jaunt, ‘The Grand Expedition’. Act fast, though, because places are limited!
17-21. Five of London’s best bars, all in one place
Head to the Time Out Bar to find not one but five(!) amazing cocktail bars shaking things up.
22. A spine-tingling performance from Some Voices choir
London mega-choir Some Voices will make you feel every emotion at once with a roster of Bowie hits – he’s been on the cover of Time Out more times than anyone else, dontcha know.
23. One bright, bold stage from God’s Own Junkyard
Walthamstow’s neon paradise God’s Own Junkyard is supplying the backdrop on the Main Stage. Granary Square is about to get lit.
24-25. Two kickass matches from EVE Pro Wrestling
Get ready to rumble with the glorious ladies of EVE. They will be bringing not one but two fights (and a real wrestling ring) to the party.
26. A joyful jewellery parade from Andrew Logan
The Alternative Miss World founder will be providing a quirky performance full of colour, sound and sparkle.
27-29. Three mojitos with a twist from a dedicated rum truck
Park yourself beside Bacardi’s rum truck. The brand has enlisted Rum Kitchen to help muddle mojitos – from a classic to a watermelon version. A truly noble use for four wheels.
30-34. Five laugh-a-minute London comedians
Get a giggle out of London life over on our Canal Stage (yes, it’s a stage floating on the waters of the Regent’s Canal), where Andrew Maxwell is pulling together top talent including Reginald D Hunter, Phil Wang, Twayna Mayne and Lolly Adefope.
35. Steelpan feels from Notting Hill Carnival
It may now be September, but Notting Hill Carnival is bringing some of the summer heat back to central London. Mangrove Steelband – winners of the UK’s Panorama Steelband competition – will be upping the tempo as soon as the sun goes down.
36. A Land Rover fitted with craft beer taps
Clearly, we love a boozy vehicle. Tap into Curious Brewery’s finest drops, poured direct from a converted Land Rover. Vroom!
37. Free sweet bites from Crosstown Doughnuts
Sugary saviours Crosstown Doughnuts will be serving up 700 mini doughnut bites to the partygoers. Fight!
38-40. Showtunes on the canal courtesy of three greats from The Glory
Not content with supplying lip-sync shenanigans on the Main Stage, Jonny Woo, Le Gateau Chocolat and Jayde Adams will be providing sassy musical numbers over on the Canal Stage too.
41. A pulsating dance performance from Holly Blakey
Blakey has provided the moves for Florence Welch, MØ and more, so expect to see some slamming dance on stage, courtesy of the Southbank Centre.
42-44. Three artist piñatas from Art Night
What birthday celebration is complete without a piñata? Luckily, Art Night is bringing three of them to Time Out 50. Only one of them will be smashable, you hooligans – this is art, after all.
45. A chance to get crafty with Collage Club
Collage Club will be bringing new meaning to ‘cover art’ – we’re giving them a load of old Time Out mags for you to get creative with.
46. A masterclass in mother’s ruin
Sipsmith is parking up its Gin Taxi at the event. Stop by for gin drinks or settle in for a masterclass in London’s rich gin history. Hic!
47-48. One free soft drink, plus ace views
Red Bull is bringing its flora-filled pop-up bar Deck87 to the party. Sip on a fruity mocktail and enjoy the sweet views from the upper deck.
49. A banging cocktail menu from Night Tales
Background Bars – the team behind Hackney’s Night Tales – are working their magic behind the Main Bar. Drinks include a Cucumber Cooler and a Black Cherry Old Fashioned.
50. Star on a Time Out cover at the Print Shop
Ogle Time Out cover art from years gone by, get your face on the front of our mag in the photobooth or pick up some totes and T-shirts to remember Time Out 50 in style.
Time Out 50, Granary Square. m King’s Cross. Sep 29, 5pm-11pm. Limited tickets available at www.timeout.com/50party.
Muswell Hill is a leafy, well-to-do area of North London situated, unsurprisingly, at the top of a big hill. The centre feels more like a village than anything else, with boutique shops, cafes and restaurants lining the streets.
Whenever I’m in the area, I wander through the many charity shops, some with designer clothes at minimal prices (my favourite is Shelter). Additionally, there’s both an independent bookshop, Muswell Hill Bookshop, and an Oxfam Books if you feel like browsing for a new read, and endless cafes for when you need a caffeine hit. Perhaps the nicest thing about the neighbourhood, however, are the views of the city – have a look from the top of Hillfield Park, just off Muswell Hill Broadway, or wander to the nearby Alexandra Palace and admire the city below.
One man in the area has made it his mission to brighten the streets by painting miniature paintings on old chewing gum stuck to the floor, each inspired by something or someone different. Sometimes you can see him working away – if you start chatting he may even dedicate his next painting to you. You can find his little gems everywhere, but a good place to start is the junction of Queens Avenue and Muswell Hill Broadway.
So if you’re in North London on a sunny day, why not venture up the hill to hunt for tiny works of art and admire the view.
We spent a day at Lyme Park in Cheshire (the setting for Colin Firth’s Pride & Prejudice) at Christmas so read on to find out what Lyme Park at Christmas is like. I had a quick look at the National Trust website before we set off to see what Christmas things they had …