In Kent, Leeds Castle hosts its Festive Food and Craft Fair on 18-19 November. 90 exhibitors will offer food, gifts and holiday crafts both traditional and modern in the 900-year-old setting. Admission is included in the Castle admission charge of £15 adults, £9.50 children, which grants admission for a full year. Trains from London Victoria to Maidstone or Bearsted take about an hour, with a bus or cab connection at the other end. Coaches direct to the Castle from Victoria Coach Station take an hour and a half.
Beautiful Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, former home of Elizabeth I and now owned by Lord and Lady Salisbury, is hosting a Gifts for Christmas Fair on 7-9 November, admission £6.50, children £2, and a Christmas Market on 15 November, admission £2, accompanied children free. The Fairs are held in heated marquees in the field where Elizabeth first heard the news that she was Queen of England. On 23 November the Reindeer Run through the House’s park will raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. There’s free parking, and it’s just 25 minutes by train from London’s Kings Cross station.
You can step back almost 200 years at Bedford’s Victorian Christmas Fair. From 12-14 December the city centre will be transformed, with street entertainers in Dickensian dress, fairground rides and amusements from bygone days, and stalls laden with gifts and holiday essentials. Harpur Square and Midland Road are the venues, and admission is free, though the Victorian Tea Room in the Harpur Suite charges to sample its traditional fare. Bedford is under 40 minutes by train from London St. Pancras station.
Country House Christmas
The Coach House at historic Waddesdon Manor, former home of the Rothschild family, hosts Christmas Gift Fairs on 1-2 and 8-9 November. There’s also a Chocolate, Sweets and Treats Food Market on 15-16 November and a Christmas Food Market from 6-14 December (except Monday and Tuesday.) Admission to the Gardens is required, £5.50 for adults/£13.75 for families. Several sessions of live seasonal music are free to visitors to the House and Gardens. You can visit the East Wing, decorated for Christmas as it would have been in its heyday, from 12 November to 23 December, and book for song and dance events and workshops. Dates, times and charges are on the Waddesdon Manor website. Trains from London Marylebone to Aylesbury take about an hour and buses connect to Waddesdon.