The Lake District is a magical spot year-round, but in that festive period in the run-up to Christmas, its raw beauty, warm fireside retreats and friendly faces make it feel so special.
When there’s a nip in the air, frost on the ground and possibly a little dusting of snow on those hills, Winter is truly here – and with that, so many local celebrations. Some of the best Christmas markets in the Lake District this year take over whole villages and towns – and some are set in private homes, hotels or restaurants. Take your pick from our list of some of the best Christmas Markets in the Lake District below, to choose a celebration that gives you those festive fuzzy feelings (and allows you to get all of those Christmas prezzies sorted, supporting local businesses and craftspeople – wins all round!)
Ulverston Dickensian Christmas Festival
Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th November
The 2023 Ulverston Dickensian Christmas Festival is a sight to be seen! If you’ve never seen it before, you’ll love this period celebration, where so many townspeople dress in full traditional Victorian regalia and Victorian engines go around the town! Multiple stages host performances whilst performers rove the streets amongst wonderful stalls selling local crafts and produce, and people sip on fragrant mulled wine. A real festival of family fun, you’ll enjoy brass bands, singing, magicians, fire eaters, jugglers, stilt walkers…the list goes on! Kids love the additional funfair rides, and all the local shops get into the spirit of the day. If you fancy dressing up too and channelling your inner Scrooge, do it!
Staveley Christmas Craft Fair, Lights Switch On & Procession
Sunday 3rd December, 1-7 pm
Entry: FREE switch on & procession, 50p entry (kids free) to craft fair
This small community craft fair is a great excuse for an afternoon in this lovely Lakes town. After a bracing walk up to Potter’s Tarn and Gurnal Dubs, come right back down into the town, and warm up at More? Bakery with a mouth-watering homemade croissant – or head straight to Hawkshead Brewery to enjoy one of their amazing craft beers and a nibbles board. Then between 1-7pm, head to the quaint local village hall for the Christmas Craft Fair. 50p entry (and free to kids) will let you enjoy crafts, music, and festive treats. Warm your hands round a cup of hot chocolate whilst you browse. Previous exhibitors have included the local artisan chocolatier The Blind Chocolatier, some beautiful handmade soaps, and a host of other crafts – including dog portraits! The perfect gift for that dog-loving relation who is impossible to buy for!
Hang around for the Winter Lights switch on. Gathering at 17.15 at the Eagle & Child pub, a procession will take in the whole village, accompanied by Staveley drumming band, and then the light switch on will happen at 18.00 at the hall, with sing along carols. The dressing up theme is white, silver, and frosty blues (think Narnia and Frozen!) – the perfect way to get in the spirit.
Rydal Christmas Fair
Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd December, 10-4 pm
This two-day festive fair will be hosted by Rydal Mount and Rydal Hall. Enjoy a roster of local arts and crafts over both sites, accompanied by the strains of Christmas music, the scent of seasonal specialities, and much more. Your ticket includes your parking, as well as access to the famous poet William Wordsworth’s house (still owned by the Wordsworth family) and gardens at Rydal Mount (usually £5 alone). The 16th century house was enlarged over the coming centuries (and by Wordsworth himself), and contains a lovely selection of the family’s portraits, and possessions.
The Rydal Christmas fair is a great way to get in some Lakes culture with the kids, whilst making lots of room for them to have plenty of festive fun, too!
Rydal Mount & Gardens, 1 Rydal Mount, Ambleside
Lindeth Howe Christmas Market
Sunday 3rd December 11-4 pm
If you’re on the shores of Windermere on the 3rd December, why not nip into historic hotel Lindeth Howe for their Christmas market? They will be hosting plenty of local craftspeople selling their artisanal makes, providing gifts of every size from stocking fillers up! Once owned by Beatrix Potter, Lindeth Howe is a 34 bedroom hotel which still connects to the famous children’s author. Book in for a nibble at the 2 AA-awarded restaurant to round off the day.
Lindeth Howe, Longtail Hill, Bowness–on-Windermere
Hawkshead Christmas Fair
Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd December, 10-4 pm
A true celebration for the community, the Hawkshead Christmas Fair is a real hubbub of fun and family. Lots of stalls featuring crafts and local produce line the streets, and live music and entertainment (as well as the big jolly man himself in his grotto!) is going on all weekend. Enjoy the Lantern Parade at 4pm on the Saturday (you can even book into the lantern workshop to make your own contribution to the parade, on 28th November 5.30-7.30 pm for £3 – pre-book with Doreen on 07790 640434).
Keswick Victorian Fayre
Sunday 3rd December, 10-4 pm
Enjoy a trip to the charming Lakes town of Keswick, taking in a walk up one of the stunning surrounding fells or just getting straight into the festival. Live entertainment will be onstage in the Market Place and Packhorse Court, with bands, choirs, dancers and more to see. As well as a children’s funfair, enjoy local crafts and produce from over 30 charity stalls, plus festive food and drink, raffles, tombolas and other games.
Carlisle Cathedral Christmas Market
Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd December, 10-5 pm (5-8 pm Sip & Shop on Friday)
Carlisle Cathedral plays host to Carlisle’s Christmas Market on Friday and Saturday, with the Quirky Eclectica Christmas Market. For something a little different, enjoy the awe-inspiring interiors of Carlisle Cathedral (and some respite from whatever weather might be going on outdoors)! Bringing together more than 30 local businesses from Cumbrian artisans, the market will showcase plenty of handcrafted and locally made items, from jewellery to Christmas decorations, homewares to gifts.
Through the Fratry Hall and the Undercroft, the stalls will also stretch outside to the Cloisters, giving you the chance to take in the breathtaking exterior too. On Friday night, stick around for the Sip & Sort, where alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks will be available from the Cathedral Cafe whilst you wander the stalls. The monthly Carlisle Farmers’ Market will also take place on the Saturday from 9-2pm, in front of the East Window, so why not stock up on plenty of local, best-quality produce sold direct from the producers themselves, before getting your Christmas game on.
Yew Tree Barn Christmas Market
Friday 1st, Saturday 2nd, Sunday 3rd December
Entry: £4 (can return all three days on one ticket)
Antiques Emporium Yew Tree Barn offers a hugely atmospheric and enjoyable annual Christmas Market. Wander their sumptuous shop and cafe as usual, as well as enjoying the many many wares of local artisans and producers both outside and in. Live music all day, as well as street food and mulled wine, make it a truly enjoyable experience.
This is no ‘homemade teacosies’-type artisanal market; here you’ll find some of Cumbria’s most lovely artists and makers. Owen Jones Swillmaker is a particular hit – his beautiful handwoven baskets (and wreath bases) would take pride of place in any home. Oubas knitwear is another great stall (their headwraps make the perfect gift), whilst Blacksheep Leather creates beautifully rugged leatherware. Pick up art works, prints, soaps, ceramics…the list goes on. And whilst you’re in the vicinity, make sure to pop into Michelin-starred inn Heft, just up the road for a pint (or make a proper visit of it, and book a table for their absolutely glorious set menu). Free shuttle buses from High Newton.
Kirkby Lonsdale Christmas Market
30th November – Sunday 3rd December, 9-4pm
Kirkby Lonsdale is hosting a full-on Christmas extravaganza this year, with events stretching from 30th November to 3rd December. A chalet village sits in the historic Market Square offering plenty of food, drink, and craft stalls, and the charming Lunesdale Hall will offer an indoor market. The Charter Market (1,2,3rd Dec) – think Santa’s Elves and live music as well as festive shopping, the Bric-a-Brac market, and Lantern Walks (4.30-5.30pm, 1 & 2nd Dec) create some real festive cheer, whilst Sedbergh Junior School Choir provide the audio backdrop with some Christmas carols at St Mary’s Church, and the Ragtag Roadshow provides a great zero-waste kids workshop on the Friday night just before the Big Light Switch On at 5.30. Pet alpacas from 11-2pm on the Saturday and Sunday in Saint Mary’s churchyard, and countless other activities all weekend, will keep that festive spirit, and don’t miss the Santa parade at 2pm on Saturday!
Sedbergh Late Night Christmas
Wednesday 6th December, 5-8 pm
The market town of Sedbergh, sat beneath the glowering glory of the Howgills, offers a sparkly Christmas treat on the evening of 6th December. When dusk falls, the local shops will light up for an evening of festive fun. Santa’s Grotto will be open for families, and there will be live music from the town band and Drum Nation, carols, street food, and market stalls to complement the local businesses, too.
Taste Cumbria Christmas Cockermouth
Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th December
Taste Cumbria will be holding festive markets all over the county (Cockrmouth, Maryport, and Wigton), but the Cockermouth installation looks set to be fun. As well as the obligatory offering of great food and drink that the magazine is renowned for celebrating, the festival will offer plenty of stalls for gifts, homewares, seasonal specialities and countless foodie treats both sweet and savoury. The Producers’ Market will set up on Main Street, and an outdoor picnic area will host live music all weekend – perfect to grab your snack and then enjoy. As well as a hot food court, the kids will enjoy plenty of activities, like writing and posting their letters to Santa, and fairground rides too.
On the Sunday, drop into the Ukrainian Cafe, where displaced families will tell their stories and an authentic Ukrainian menu will be served up, with all proceeds going to Ukrainian Humanitarian Support. Find Santa in his grotto at Cockermouth Pilates Studio on Saturday, 11-5pm.
Grassington Christmas Market
Saturday 2nd & Saturday 9th December
The charming historic village of Grassington a little East from Cumbria into Yorkshire houses a Victorian Christmas celebration this year, as the village’s cobbled streets come alive with stalls, sweet treats, and mulled wine. As well as all of the stalls, there will be live music – as well as Elf Workshops and Santa’s Grotto! Best make sure you’re on the ‘Nice’ list!
Carlisle Christmas Market
For 17 days this December, Carlisle’s city centre will transform into a winter wonderland. This magical Christmas market, made up of more than 40 Alpine-style chalets, will be offering up the classic Christmas market experience, with decorations, gifts, mulled wine and festive foodie faves.
Stalls will be open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 10-6pm, late night opening on Thursdays (10-8pm), and Sundays 10-5pm.
We hope you’ve found some festive fun to whet your appetite and help you to enjoy the sparkle and joy of the season!