Shoppers walk along a street at night with a large Christmas tree in the distance at a Christmas market in England

Tips to Survive a Christmas Market in England

Thoughts from Alanna…A giant Christmas tree is covered with white lights.

Growing up in Canada, I think I can safety say that I had never been to a Christmas market. They’re around, I’m sure, but never seemed to be all the rage.

So how do you survive a massive Christmas market abroad?

Plan Ahead For Your Christmas Market in England

If you’re going to your local market, it’s probably not going to be a huge hassle getting there. If you’re traveling around the country, or farther, for a market, make sure to plan how you’ll get there. This year, I decided to go to the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market, one of the largest in South England. Originally I was just going to park in the city but after hearing how jam-packed the place gets, I ended up using a nearby Park-and-Ride, only £3 to park all day and get a return bus ticket into the city! Score!

A crowded street as people do their Christmas shopping at night.

Crowded on the high street, it’s not even the actual market!

Set a Budget

Gifts are expensive. Food is extensive. Drinks are continuous. Make sure to set a rough budget in your mind before you hit the market, otherwise you’re likely to spend your life-savings on presents, donuts and mulled-wine (is that a bad thing, though?)

A crowded Christmas market beside a large old cathedral in Winchester, England.

The market stalls in the shadow of the cathedral

Enjoy the treats!

Even though you’ll be watching your budget, enjoy some tasty snacks and drinks! There’s so much, it’s unbelievable. My favourites are the sausages, hot chocolate, mulled wine or cider, baguettes, fish and chips and hot donuts. God bless.

Check Out Local Attractions

I suggest hitting the market as soon as you get there. The earlier it is, the less insane it tends to be. After sufficient market-wandering, spend some time seeing the local attractions. Winchester has an incredible cathedral where the market itself is set up. If you ever visit, you can see Jane Austin’s grave, an eerie crypt and an incredible vast ceiling. We were lucky to visit while the choir was practicing for a concert.

Staying for Dinner?

If you’ve come far for the market, chances are that you’ll be staying for dinner. Make sure to get to your pub or restaurant early as it’s likely to run out of seats quite quickly. My game plan was to get a drink at one of the pubs and patiently stand and wait for a free table. A free one opens up. Run for it. Then I made sure to order my food fairly early to beat the late-evening rush.

Here is exactly where you’ll find my favourite English experience: talking over pints and food, cozy in a warm pub with locals shouting at the football game on TV.