Days Out England

Six of the Best Lake District Christmas Markets in 2020

Lake District Christmas Markets 2019
Written by Kirstie Pelling

Six of the Best Lake District Christmas Markets and Fairs 

Who can resist the magic of a Christmas Market? Especially if it’s in the heart of a magical Lakeland location. Jack Frost’s icy hand in December cannot compete with an air warmed by mulled wine and mince pies and the warm welcome of local artists and food producers who want to chat and share their wares. From country houses to market squares , here’s our pick of the best festive Lake District Christmas Markets. You might even get a glimpse of Santa doing his xmas shopping or chilling in a tent…

Kirkby Lonsdale Santa Post Box

Kirkby Lonsdale Santa Post Box

1 Windermere Christmas Celebration
Elfing lessons and skating sessions

It’s skates on for the next Windermere Christmas Celebration, which will be in its fifth year in 2020. This popular Cumbria Christmas Market has around sixty craft, food and drink stalls and visitors can get on the ice. Event Director Kate Barton always hopes it will be the biggest and best yet. “I know people will especially love sipping mulled wine, listening to festive music, whilst watching people enjoy our real ice rink.” Santa is always in his grotto again, and after previous Elf Schools there’s sure to be an orderly queue and well trained small people. If you fancy having a go on skates, you can book a slot via the Windermere Christmas Celebration website. You can get a discounted Santa’s Grotto ticket with an ice rink ticket.

Windermere Christmas Market stalls

Twinkling lights at Windermere Christmas Market. Image by Mountain Goat

2 Ulverston Dickensian Festival
Shoe shining and mulled wining 

“Every year at the end of November the streets of Ulverston are filled with stalls, performers, and people in top hats, tail coats, mob caps and mufflers. Yes, it’s Ulverston’s Dickensian Festival – a Lake District Christmas market with a difference,” says Caroline Gilfillan, one of the volunteers who sells mulled wine to raise funds for the festival. “I get an excellent view of the costumes and the stalls. The good folk of Ulverston love an excuse to dress up, and this is the perfect opportunity. Clothes are hired or bought from the charity shops around town. Some intrepid people even get out their needle and thread.” she adds.

Dickensian costumes in Ulverston

Stall holders wear Dickensian costumes in Ulverston. Image by The Family Adventure Project

“Couples stroll by arm in arm, the men sporting walking sticks and natty cravats, the women in long skirts and button boots. There are several mulled wine stalls, but I’m usually at work in the food court, where delicious food catering to all tastes is served. The delicious aroma of good coffee mingles with the spicy scent of the mulled wine. Close by a boy of 11 or 12 offers to shine your boots or shoes for a modest price. A stage (there are several around town) offers music from local performers including the irrepressible Blast Furness street band. In the afternoon we get a visit from Queen Victoria herself! Diminutive and impeccably dressed she presents the prizes for the best costumes in the different age categories. When I’ve finished my duties on the mulled wine stall I head off to do a little shopping. There are stalls selling gifts for all pockets – jewellery, crafts, badges, clothes –and scrumptious food and drink for the festive season. If you have children, you can bob into the Laurel and Hardy Museum, where Santa will be distributing presents from his Christmas grotto. This is a family-friendly festival, suitable for all ages. Do come along and enjoy it with us.”

Caroline Gilfillan entertaining the crowd

Caroline Gilfillan entertaining the crowd

3 Ambleside Christmas Lights
Santa in the mist and a firework twist 

As one of the go to hubs for Lakeland tourist shopping, its unsurprising that Ambleside provides a twinkling shopping opportunity in the run up to Christmas. But you might not expect a Santa hunt that goes in search of the big man on the lake. Yes Father Christmas appears in the sunshine or the mist on the day of the light switch on.  Then later he turns the lights on with a sprinkle of his magic glitter. Then it’s all off to Rothay Park for the free fireworks. They know how to do Christmas here!


Every day is like Christmas at Ambleside, but just wait for the Christmas market!

4 Hawkshead Christmas Fair
Lantern lighting and Santa sighting 

The Hawkshead Christmas Fair is an annual institution in this most Christmassy of Lakeland villages.One of the event’s organisers, Jane Farnworth, describes a Christmas fair filled with craft, local produce and festive gift stalls, with entertainment provided by local bands, choirs and street entertainers. And of course Santa joins in the fun.

Christmas Baubles on Christmas Tree

Santa will  be heading to Hawkshead in Cumbria this Christmas. Will you?

5 Leighton Hall Christmas Fair
Festive wreaths and mince pie treats

It’s a little bit south of The Lakes but this one day Christmas Fair and gift market is worth a trip out. Suzie Reynolds, one of the owners of the hall, is opening the doors of her home to help raise money for CancerCare, which provides therapy and support for local people affected by cancer. Leighton Hall, in Yealand, near Carnforth is the ancestral home of the Gillow furniture family and a beautiful house to wander and relax in. Stalls include Christmas decorations, arts and crafts, cakes, cheese, clothing, tombola, raffle, seasonal wreaths and more. There’s also be refreshments with a festive flavour accompanied by carol singing by the pupils from Yealand school.

Leighton Hall Christmas Fayre

Leighton Hall Christmas Fair. Image by Leighton Hall

6 Kirkby Lonsdale Christmas Fair
Chalet stalls and Santa calls 

The pretty South Cumbrian market town of Kirkby Lonsdale holds an annual festive parade and three day fair. Santa is always resident in his hut after the parade, last year it was in the Harry Potter ginnel next to the Book Lounge. This year’s Kirkby Lonsdale Christmas Fair event will be held the weekend of the 4th December, with an outdoor Chalet Village and an indoor market in nearby Lunesdale Hall. There’s a North Pole post box to tell Santa you’ve been good. arts and crafts in the chalet village and elf plate and Christmas crown making at the Little Owls Emporium. In the parade you’ll find drumming band, brass bands and buskers will include jazz sax, ukulele, blues and opera.

Kirkby Lonsdale at Christmas s a magical place

Kirkby Lonsdale at Christmas is a magical place. Image by Robin Ree

Further Reading

Fancy a winter Christmas market further afield? Check out the post where we went in search of the perfect Christmas bauble in German and Austrian Christmas markets.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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