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Visit a Christmas market – by bike!

What could be better to get you into the festive spirit than a wander round a festive Christmas Market, mulled hot beverage in hand, wrapped up against the cold and enjoying the twinkling lights and sparkling decorations. 

Well, why not get to and from the market by bicycle – or even better combine a wintry ride with a visit. We think it might be the perfect way to warm up after a spin.

There are Christmas Markets up and down the country, and helpfully many of them are on National Cycle Network routes, so you can plan your route online and get there easily, with a rosy glow on your cheeks. Grab your friends and family and make it a proper outing!

A festive capital city – it looks particularly good with the lights twinkling in the dark! Image copyright Marcus Povey via Flickr

Southbank Centre, London

This great market along the River Thames lets you soak up some Christmas cheer in the heart of the capital. Enjoy mulled wine, bratwurst and gingerbread and daily Choir performances as you roam the cute decorated cabins and huts. You can even pick up a festive pressie or two.

Cost: Free admission
When: From 15th November – 24th December 2013
Which NCN route: Route 4
More info: Christmas Markets website

Winchester

Next to Winchester cathedral, this Christmas market attracts more than 350,000 visitors each year. Based around the hugely popular German Christmas Markets, not only will you be able to do a little shopping and a little eating, if you fancy some extra exercise there’s also an ice rink!

Cost: Free admission
When: The market will be running for 32 days from Thu 21 Nov to Sun 22 Dec. Open every day, 10am-6pm from Sun-Wed and 10am-7.30pm from Thurs-Sat
Which NCN route: Route 23
More info: Winchester Cathedral website

Winchester Cathedral provides a dramatic backdrop to the Christmas market

Bath

This award-winning market is nestled between the historic Bath Abbey and Roman Baths in this World Heritage city. With 150 traditional wooden chalets, you’ll find everything you need for the perfect Christmas celebration. Expect hand made Christmas decorations, local food and produce, and a mouth-watering selection of hot food and drink to keep you fuelled as you peruse.

Cost: Free admission
When: Thursday 28th November to Sunday 15th December
Which NCN route: Bath Two Tunnels Circuit, Route 4
More info: Bath Christmas Market

Beverley, Yorkshire

The Beverley Festival of Christmas is not to be missed. With music, festive stalls, street entertainers and performances there is something for everyone. From silver jewellery to handmade candles, from dolls to handbags, there’s likely to be something that would make a great present under the Christmas tree for someone you know, plus reading the list of food stalls that will be there has made us hungry!

Cost: Free admission
When: 8th December 2013
Which NCN route: Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route starts in Beverley (Route 1)
More info: Beverley Festival of Christmas 

Worcester

Worcester Christmas Fayre is celebrating its 21st year. It’s a fantastic Victoria-themed street market so expect to see people in 19th century dress! There’ll be roast chestnuts and mulled wine to consume as you browse the local arts and crafts on offer, and a beautiful Victorian carousel.

Cost: Free admission
When: Thursday 28th November to Sunday 1st December 2013
Which NCN route: Route 46
More info: Visit Worcestershire

Caerphilly, Wales

Within the walls of Caerphilly Castle, this medieval market has magicians, puppeteers and jesters to keep the kids (of all ages) entertained. There are also medieval crafts, hands-on activities for the little ones, and Father Christmas will be putting in an appearance! The market spreads across the town, with stalls featuring everything from continental goods and produce to a famers market.

Cost: For admittance to the Castle, Adult £4.75, Family £14.25, Students, senior citizens and children under 16 £3.60. Town market free.
When: Saturday 7 December 2013 9am – 5pm and Sunday 8 December 2013 10am – 4pm
Which NCN route: Caerphilly to Machen (Route 4)
More info: Visit Caerphilly 

The National Cycle Network is run by Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity. They look after over 14,000 miles of route, including traffic-free greenways and paths, and they also have lots of useful resources online.

The Christmas market at Bath is a festive spectacle, with Christmas goodies, present ideas and festive treats galore. Image copyright Kentishman on Flickr

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