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It’s likely that between now and Christmas, you’ll get a little time off to catch up with friends, see relatives and spend time with your family. But when everyone gets together, it’s good to have a plan of what you want to do. You’ll want to keep the kids entertained, but it’s important the adults are having a great time too.

One way to do this is to head down to a Christmas market and take in the colourful sights and sounds. Many of these markets have great gift ideas, fantastic decorations and often have free entertainment including carol singing and brass bands.

Whether you’re just browsing and taking in the fun, buying the odd gift or sampling mulled wine, here’s our pick of this year’s Christmas markets.

1) Manchester

Closing date: 20 December

Manchester Christmas markets now sprawl across the city. There are 350 festively dressed wooden chalet over 10 different sites selling crafts, international food, drinks and many handmade gifts. The main hive of activity is outside the vast Town Hall but check out some of the other areas at St Ann’s Square and Exchange Square.

2) Brighton

Closing date: 11 December

If you’re looking for something a bit different from the traditional Christmas markets, get yourself down to Brighton. Here, artists and designer makers are opening their homes and studios to sell paintings, upcycled jewellery and more hand-crafted good. And what’s more, some of these are holding workshops with drawing classes and other craft activities.

3) London

Closing date: 2 January

The capital always makes a big effort at Christmas with its stunning light displays and shop windows. Head down Oxford Street and enjoy the Christmas lights, or check out some of the stalls. There’s a Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and the Southbank along the River Thames has a traditional Winter Market.

4) Leeds

Closing date: 18 December

Leeds Christkindelmarkt is located in the beautiful Millennium Square. It’s filled with musical entertainment throughout the day and there’s a children’s show on every Sunday too, so look out for that. There’s a Bavarian restaurant with real log fires just to make the mood even cosier, but it’s best to book if you want to enjoy this treat.

5) Birmingham

Closing date: 29 December

This year, Birmingham’s Christmas market is 50 years old. The whole city centre is transformed with all of the traditional market fare – including bratwursts, pretzels, bespoke tree decorations and hand-crafted toys. This is the first time the market will run past Christmas day, so there’s no excuse to miss out once you’re bored of watching re-runs and eating turkey.

6) Edinburgh

Closing date: 8 January

The Scottish capital is famous for its Hogmanay New Year’s Eve celebrations, but it’s a beautiful city to visit at any time of year. Head to Santa land for a children’s market or enjoy one of the country’s longest running markets with a traditional Scottish section, close to the winter ice rink at East Princes Street Gardens.

7) York

Closing date: 23 December

Set alongside the magnificent York Minster, the St Nicholas Fair has all the traditional goods alongside local Yorkshire produce to accompany your Christmas dinner. Take a walk along the walls too – this which will offer great views of the city.

8) Cardiff

 Closing date: 23 December

Run by the local Craft*folk artists group, the 80 stalls at this market are all about quality over quantity. You’ll find local crafts and produce from across Wales, including metalwork, textiles and glasswork. This is one of the fastest growing festive markets in the country, easily accessible in the compact and green city.

9) Chester

Closing date: 18 December

The historic city of Chester is the perfect backdrop for any festive scene, with its old buildings and cobbled streets. The market is set next to the cathedral and has 70 wooden chalets – last year, exhibitors included a microbrewery, a fudge maker, a hat maker and a cheese maker.

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