Where better to enjoy a Christmas market shopping experience than deep in the New Forest? Its rural setting automatically evokes scenes that you can find on a traditional Christmas card. The National Park is hosting a series of festive markets, some with live events for all the family, and a number of them have personal appearances by Father Christmas and his reindeer. Live bands, fireworks or a European theme are also popular additions to the Christmas market scene.
To help you plan your perfect Christmas, we have compiled a guide to all the Christmas markets taking place across the National Park in 2017. Our guide will help you find the best markets in the New Forest to buy gifts, try some tasty festive treats from local foodies, meet Santa Claus, or see some dazzling Christmas lights switched on. All you need to do is wrap up warm and turn up!
When: December 2nd-3rd
The largest Christmas event in the New Forest, the New Forest Christmas Fair will be taking place at Exbury Gardens this year, welcoming more than 100 traders and stalls to bring in the Christmas cheer. A traditional family day out, there are all kinds of wonderful gifts to purchase, as well as plenty of tasty local produce to sample.
When: Crafts and Gifts Fayre – November 18th, Festival – November 25th
This year’s Christmas celebrations are two-fold, with events split between the Crafts and Gifts Fayre and the Festival. The fayre has more than 50 stalls selling Christmas crafts, festive food, decorations and crafts, and there is also a bistro. At the festival, local bands will be livening up proceedings by belting out some tunes before the big light switch-on. There’s a Santa Fun Run staged by a local charity to watch or compete in, a French market, and a lantern parade as night falls to enhance the Christmas feeling.
When: December 16th-January 1st
Travel back in time and experience a traditional Christmas with the Victorian Christmas at Beaulieu. Explore the Victorian Montagu family home, capturing how the occasion would have been celebrated in 1889 – watch some Victorian cooking, enjoy some mulled punch by a roaring log fire, admire the Christmas trees in every room and pose next to the giant life-size gingerbread house. Other activities include craft workshops and carol singing.
When: November 11th-December 24th
Southampton is found just outside of the New Forest, over the eastern border, and is home to one of the best Christmas events on the south coast. The Southampton Christmas Festival is home to a traditional German market, packed with over 40 chalets selling toys, soaps, decorations, jewellery and more beside a range of classic festive treats, including gingerbread and bratwurst. There’s also plenty of entertainment on offer throughout – musicians will be performing every day, while twice a day, the Flying Santa will take to the skies, before the kids are invited to meet Santa and receive a present.
When: November 20th-December 22nd
Located less than a half-hour drive from the New Forest border, Winchester is a city well worth visiting in its own right, thanks to its amazing history and architecture, but it’s an extra-special place to visit at Christmas. With the cathedral as its backdrop, this magical market has more than 100 chalet stalls to browse, filled with handmade British goodies to buy. The stalls also surround a giant ice rink, so get on your skates for some wintery family fun.
Christmas in the New Forest
The New Forest is a simply beautiful setting to spend the festive period in – not only are there these wonderful events to visit, but the winter scenery is simply stunning and perfect for a Christmas break to remember. If you're looking to head the New Forest to celebrate this special time of year, check out our full collection of Christmas cottages to start planning your yuletide holiday.