Christmas markets in North Wales

With half term, Halloween and Bonfire Night all out of the way, there’s no avoiding it, next stop Christmas! But, if you’re anything like us, a big part of the fun is the run up to the day itself – writing cards, planning parties, wrapping presents and soaking up the festive atmosphere. In recent years, the tradition of Christmas markets has made its way over from the continent to become a firm fixture on our winter calendars. Many of us flock to teeming city centres or even a European city break for an authentic experience but, you needn’t suffer the stress of crowds and arduous journeys, North Wales has its share of fabulous Christmas markets too.

Whether you’re looking for handmade decorations, scrumptious foodie treats or some unique gifts, Christmas markets offer a brilliant day out for the whole family. Here’s our round up of the biggest and best across the region.

Llandudno Christmas Fayre

Llandudno – 15-18 November

Head to North Wales’s most famous seaside resort for the annual Christmas Fayre, which has become one of the biggest fixtures on the town’s calendar. Here you can enjoy traditional festive entertainment, including carols and Santa’s grotto, while you stroll around more than 130 food, craft and gift stalls. It’s a great day out, whatever the weather, as many of the stalls are undercover too.

This market gives visitors an opportunity to experience a variety of local goods not found on the high street, with its main aim to promote quality products from Wales and beyond at this most special time of year.

Distance from hotel by car: approx. 45 minutes.

Beaumaris Victorian Christmas

Beaumaris – 24-25 November

A weekend of seasonal fun awaits in the beautiful resort of Beaumaris on Anglesey as the whole town gets into the festive spirit. Over two days the town will transform into a winter wonderland, culminating in a grand parade and fireworks on Saturday evening.

Visitors can enjoy live music and entertainment, stalls, games and fairground rides, plus tempting food and drink as they wander the town indulging in a little Christmas shopping in the many quirky and unique shops here.

Distance from hotel by car: approx. 30 minutes.

Goleuo Bwyd Lleol Food Market

Denbigh – 30 November

Hosted by Llangollen & Dee Valley Good Grub Club, the jewel in the Vale of Clwyd, Denbigh, will be hosting a Carnival Christmas Extravaganza, with dozens of irresistible stalls selling local cheeses, preserves, chocolate and other yummy delights!

Organisers ask you to empty your cupboards and arrive hungry! They promise locally produced food as well as some great entertainment: carol singers, Santa, a fun fair, craft demonstrations and most importantly, the Christmas lights switch on!

Distance from hotel by car: approx. 60 minutes.

Portmeirion Food & Craft Festival

Portmeirion – 30 November – 2 December

A fairytale location, food and festive frolics – who could resist? This dreamy village’s annual Christmas event is a celebration of the best local food, drinks, gifts and entertainment.

With more than 120 artisan stalls exhibiting the best Welsh produce, there is also a full programme of entertainment, including seasonal cooking demonstrations, musical entertainment and Santa’s Grotto.

Join in the merriment and find the perfect present while you’re at it!

Distance from hotel by car: approx. 50 minutes.

Ruthin Christmas lights switch-on and market

St Peter’s Square – 1 December

Get involved in a longstanding Christmas tradition in historic Ruthin with the switching on of the Christmas lights! This year the lights on the town’s Christmas tree will be switched on by the Mayor of Ruthin, followed by a dazzling parade of vehicles in the Convoy of Lights.

A Christmas market will also be held in St Peter’s Square, with various stalls and entertainment, and more retail therapy undercover in St Peter’s Church.

Distance from hotel by car: approx. 70 minutes.

Wrexham Victorian Christmas Market

Wrexham town centre and St Giles’ Church – 6 December

Wrexham’s Christmas Market is one of the most eagerly awaited events in the town’s calendar, this year once again boasting a Victorian theme. Visitors can browse over 100 stalls in the town centre but what makes this market really special is that it spills into the beautiful parish church of St Giles – a glorious haven on a cold winter’s evening.

Stalls this year will be selling a selection of festive gifts and treats alongside Victorian street entertainers and a traditional carousel. There will be all sorts of hot, freshly prepared food, including German sausages, festive mince pies, mulled wine and hot chestnuts.

Distance from hotel by car: approx. 90 minutes.

What else is on?

But that’s not all; there are many other Christmas events happening across the region in November and December. While not strictly markets, most feature some fabulous stalls and/or are situated around great spots to buy or try local produce.

The medieval Winterfest in Conwy is a firm favourite with locals; the Santa train events at Llangollen Railway are always popular with families; and Christmas centrepiece workshops at Erddig and festive dessert tasting evenings at Bodnant Garden are just a couple of the seasonal delights hosted by the National Trust in Wales.

Stay with us

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and where better to enjoy the frosty Welsh winter than over good food and a party atmosphere at the Royal Victoria? Celebrate, shine and sparkle with your favourite people at our Moulin Rouge themed party nights throughout December, or enjoy an extended warm welcome by spending the Christmas break at our luxurious and festive hotel. Why not take a look at our great value Winter Stay & Dine deal… but, hurry, dates are filling up fast!

Caernarfon Castle – a very royal residence

Undoubtedly one of Wales’ most impressive historical landmarks, Caernarfon Castle is also one of the region’s most visited attractions. Instantly striking, this is a fantastic option for a family day out, but history buffs will be captivated by this amazing structure too.

Plus, did you know that this national treasure is only around twenty minutes away from our hotel? Caernarfon Castle is just a 20-minute drive along the A4086 from our hotel. Ask at Reception and we’ll be happy to provide directions.

Read on to discover more about the long and storied history of Caernarfon Castle…

Formidable fortress

Caernarfon was created and built as part of Edward I’s infamous ‘Iron Ring’, a stretegic move designed to threaten and intimidate the native Welsh people. Castles at Harlech, Beaumaris, Conwy and Caernarfon effectively formed a circle around Snowdonia; the project is believed to be the most expensive military building project of the medieval era.

The site that Caernarfon Castle sits upon was previously the site of a Norman castle, and the location is also very close to the remains of a vast Roman fort (which you can also visit) – so this is clearly a place of some prestige! A commanding view of the surrounding area plus close proximity to the sea (and critical supply lines) made it the ideal site for a fortress.

Master James of St George was Edward’s architect in chief, and under his guidance Edward’s castles evolved from the traditional square-shaped fortresses previously built, and become more intricate and sophisticated. Circular or multi-sided lookout towers and concentric walls demonstrate his keen focus on strength and protection, and further illustrate the military-mindset the castles were influenced by.

Caernarfon was constructed in the 1280s and came at no inconsiderable cost. Caernarfon, Harlech and Conwy were all built at roughly the same time, and cost a jaw-dropping 90% of the national income!

At its peak, the castle boasted glass windows, vast murals and exterior limestone and sandstone decorative elements. The castle’s distinctive rose-tinted walls are believed to have been inspired by the formidable fortress of Constantinople (now Istanbul), one of the most powerful cities of the Middle Ages.

Royal pedigree

The castle was built by Edward I, but its association with royalty doesn’t stop there. Edward’s son, Edward II, was born within its walls. Edward I installed his son as the first English Prince of Wales to further cement his dominance over the natives, beginning a tradition of the monarch’s eldest son holding this title that was only briefly broken by Owain Glyndwr in the early 1400s. Today the title is held by HRH Prince Charles and will presumably pass down via William to his son, Louis, in future.

In 1911, Prince Edward (who later became King Edward VIII) was invested as the Prince of Wales in the castle at the suggestion of David Lloyd George, who was then the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Charles, the current Prince of Wales, also held his investiture for the title at Caernarfon. The ceremony was held on the first of July, 1969, in front of thousands of people within the grounds.

Today’s castle

Despite its advanced years, Caernarfon is still one of the most striking, intimidating and impressive historic monuments in the UK. If you have a head for heights, visitors can ascend the towers for 360 degree views of the surrounding area – Snowdonia in one direction and Anglesey in the other. It’s not hard to understand the significance of Caernarfon’s strategic location with views like that.

Wandering the ramparts and walking the walls here you’ll also come across many informative and educational exhibits; this is a fantastic family day out that combines history with lots of exploring!

While you’re here, make sure to set aside some time to visit the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, which you’ll find inside the castle’s towers – entry is included in your admission to the castle. It’s a great snapshot of the history and daily life of Wales’ national regiment.

Even if you aren’t a military enthusiast, there are lots of interesting artifacts, photographs, models and film charting the regiment’s history. The museum tells the story of the battalion’s 300 years of service, from the reign of William III to the present day. Along the way, Royal Welch soldiers were awarded 14 Victoria Crosses, and counted famous names including Siegfried Sassoon and Hedd Wyn among their ranks.

Cadw

Cadw is a historic preservation service that’s part of the Economy, Science and Transport Department of Wales. In Welsh, the word ‘cadw’  means ‘to protect’, making it a very apt name. Cadw works to maintain and conserve the most important and significant historic sites in Wales. Preserving artifacts, sustaining Welsh culture and improving wellbeing in Wales all fall under Cadw’s remit, and Caernarfon Castle is also under their care.

The Explorer Pass is a great option for visitors who want to make the most of Wales’ many cultural sites. Passes come in either three or seven-day versions, and offer the chance to explore dozens of North Wales’ landmarks, including the ‘Iron Ring’ castles at Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris and Harlech and the Tudor townhouse of Plas Mawr in Conwy.

The more you use the pass the more you’ll save, so you’ve got no excuse to skip North Wales’ cultural gems! Discover more about Cadw here.

Keen to immerse yourself in North Wales’ incredible historical heritage? Our hotel is ideally located in Llanberis, in the heart of beautiful Snowdonia.