Quirky Festive Alternatives to Christmas Markets to Try this Winter

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
We all love Christmas traditions. Drinking mulled wine, listening to carol singers and wandering round the local Christmas markets are firm festive favourites, and for good reason. But if you fancy a break from the usual Christmas markets, this year there are so many other alternative Yuletide events happening in the North and Scotland, from festive pop up cinemas and bars to hidden Christmas markets.
Victoria Baths Manchester

Image credit: The Village Green Event Company

1. Festive pop up cinema, Victoria Baths, Manchester

Nothing says Christmas quite like lying in a deck chair watching festive films in an old Edwardian swimming pool, right? A pop-up Christmas cinema is coming to Victoria Baths in Manchester for two film screenings, including Home Alone on Friday December 9 and Elf on Saturday December 10.

The events kick off with Christmas music and local street food vendors, including Dim Sum Su and Proove Pizza. There will also be a fully stocked bar serving prosecco, wines, craft beers and soft drinks. It gets cold though, so be sure to bring blankets and hot water bottles to snuggle down with your nearest and dearest for this one-off Christmassy event!

Christmas trains to Manchester


Leeds Christmas Market
Image credit: Sneaky Experience
 2. Leeds Hidden Christmas Market, Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

If you’ve had your fill of the traditional Christmas markets and fancy something a bit different, head to the Hidden Christmas Market at Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds.

From Bratwurst to baubles, craft stations to stollen, the hidden Christmas market will offer mysterious performances, mesmerising decor (with a secret entrance to an undercover world!), independent retailers and locally sourced festive food stalls. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a bar serving mulled wine, fizz cocktails and craft ales.

The events start on Friday 16 December and are on in the run up to Christmas until Thursday 22, but tickets are on sale now.

Christmas trains to Leeds

Edinburgh Light Festival
Image credit: EdinburghChristmas.com
3. The Street of Light, George Street, Edinburgh

For a stunning (and free) quirky Christmas activity, George Street in Edinburgh is where you need to be. From November 21 until Christmas eve, George Street will be lit up with over 60,000 beautiful bulbs of light alongside synchronised music from local choirs and bands. This includes music by Edinburgh Festival Chorus with Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra with their Junior Chorus, Blazin’ Fiddles and Tigerstyle.

Take a stroll down the street at 6pm or 8pm every night for a festive evening with a difference. Hurry though, some performances are already sold out!

Christmas trains to Edinburgh

Mad Hatters, York
Image Credit: The Grand Hotel and Spa, York
4. Mad Hatters Festive Afternoon Tea Party, The Grand Hotel and Spa, York

The Mad Hatters Festive Afternoon Tea Party at the Grand Hotel in York offers an unusual festive afternoon in an opulent setting, complete with unique cakes and sandwiches. If edible candles, chocolate lollipops, pink mushrooms and fairytale tea sound like your kind of thing, why not spend an afternoon indulging?

If you’re after something a bit stronger, try the Hendricks G&T Afternoon Tea – gin cocktails served in a Hendrick's tea pot with all the trimmings! Afterwards, head to the Ice Trail to marvel at magnificent icy creations whilst sipping mulled wine – a perfect offbeat Christmas day out in York.

Christmas trains to York

Good Spirits Company Glasgow
Image credit: The Good Spirits Company Facebook
5. Christmas Cracker Cocktail Club, The Good Spirits Company, Glasgow

Ever wondered what’s the best drink to pair your Christmas dinner with? From the breakfast fizz right the way through to the nightcap, The Good Spirits Company in Glasgow offer a perfect selection of drinks for the big day, and the opportunity to taste them all.

Take a sip of your next favourite Christmas cocktail at one of their tasting events throughout the festive period. Afterwards take in a festive show or stroll along the Glasgow Style Mile and marvel at the illuminated Christmas window displays.

Christmas trains to Glasgow

Independent Liverpool
Image credit: Independent Liverpool
6. Independent Liverpool's Christmas Festival, The Great Baltic Warehouse, Liverpool

Independent Liverpool’s Christmas Festival promises to be more than just your average Christmas market. The event includes exhibitions such as “Me Nan’s” - a pop up Baileys bar meant to mimic a typical Scouse Nan’s living room on Christmas Day with antiques, old furniture and an alternative Christmas speech; and the “Grown Up Grinch’s Grotto”.

There will also be local favourite restaurants putting a special Christmas twist on their beloved menus, and a gift shop with local cheese mongers, chocolatiers, illustrators and more. The soundtrack to the weekend will be provided by lots of local DJs, live music and some alternative carol singers for an incredible weekend of wintery fun.

Christmas trains to Liverpool

Which alternative Christmas days out would you like to try? Share your thoughts, snaps and festive cheer with us over TwitterFacebook and Instagram.