You can visit a Christmas market on a canal boat holiday

Best Christmas markets to visit on a canal boat holiday

Winter cruising on the canals offers the chance to visit a Christmas market on a canal boat holiday.

Our canal boats for hire range from snug narrowboats for two, to larger boats for seven, and prices start at £635 for a short break (three or four nights), £875 for a week.

All Drifters’ boats have central heating and hot water, and some also have multi-fuel stoves. So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Here’s a guide to the top four Christmas markets to visit on a barge holiday in 2023:

1. Boat to the Bath Christmas market

From Thursday 23 November to Sunday 10 December, Bath Christmas market will return to the historic City of Bath. You can explore dozens of chalets nestled amongst iconic monuments, with a wide range of crafts, gifts, food and drink. From our canal barge base at Bath, it takes around two hours to cruise to City Centre moorings, passing through six locks.

2. Navigate to the World of Wedgewood Christmas Artisan Markets

On the weekends of 25 and 26 November, 9 and 10 December and 16 and 17 December 2023, Josiah & Co will host Christmas artisan markets at the World of Wedgewood. From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, boaters can reach Middleport Pottery in Stoke on Trent in around eight hours, passing through 12 locks along the way.

3. Visit Stratford-upon-Avon’s Victorian Christmas Market

This award-winning event taking place 7-10 December 2023 features hundreds of stalls selling seasonal products, with traders decked out in Victorian costumes. From Drifters’ canal boat hire base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it’s a six-hour cruise to moorings in Bancroft Basin in the centre of Stratford upon Avon, passing through 17 locks along the way.

4. Experience the Warwick Castle Christmas Market

From Drifters’ base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire, canal boat holiday-makers can cruise to Warwick and back to experience ‘Christmas at the Castle’ (25 November 2023 to 7 January 2024), including an open-air ice rink and Christmas Market. The journey from Stockton to Warwick takes around seven hours, passing through 20 locks.

5. Cruise to the famous Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham

From 2 November to 24 December 2023, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market will fill New Street and Victoria Square, with stalls offering a variety of food and drink, traditional toys, ornaments and gifts. From Drifters’ narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, it takes around five hours to reach moorings in Gas Street Basin in Birmingham city centre.

*NB some of our routes will be affected by winter maintenance work on the canal network.