Residents across Cumbria are being given plenty of choices to shop local in the run-up to Christmas – as local communities and high streets come together to host a range of free festive events.

Whitehaven Christmas Market will welcome stallholders to King Street this Saturday. A range of bakers, cakes and makers will be among the highlights in the maritime town, with local produce and crafts aplenty.

There will also be free parking for both stallholders and market visitors at a selection of Copeland Council car parks during the day.

The event is being heralded as a great opportunity for shoppers to make the most of Whitehaven’s thriving retail centre, including independent boutiques, high street names and a true local high street stalwart in Dixon’s Department Store, which has been family owned since 1882.

It also paves the way for a second Christmas market in Whitehaven in St Nicholas Gardens on the following Friday.

Meanwhile, this weekend sees the return of Ulverston Dickensian Festival, which takes place across Saturday and Sunday.

The Dickensian Festival is renowned for creating the unique atmosphere of a traditional market town in the era of writer Charles Dickens, with many people entering into the festive spirit and dressing in Victorian-inspired costumes.

The free entertainment on offer will include children’s activities, costume competitions, balloon modelling and horse-drawn carriages, alongside a traditional fairground – complete with a helter skelter slide – and a variety of music from brass bands to folk musicians.

Organisers are also highlighting the many opportunities for Christmas shopping, with a Christmas market offering unusual gifts and festive food.

Looking ahead to the following weekend, it’s the turn of Millom’s festive celebrations.

People can combine a trip to the town with its Christmas market in the Town Square on Saturday, December 4.

In the east of the county, Friday, December 3 to Sunday, December 5 will see the historic market town of Kirkby Lonsdale host a community-focused Christmas fair.

A spacious chalet village, indoor market and late-night shopping are all planned.

The weekend will get under way with Friday’s Christmas Light switch-on from 4pm in Market Square, followed by a lantern parade which culminates in lantern-lit carol singing.

Other highlights for Kirkby Lonsdale Christmas fair will include a community play called Peter’s Promise and guided lantern walks across the weekend.

On the West coast, it’s back to Whitehaven for their festive-themed young entrepreneur’s market on Saturday, December 11. It’s specifically aimed at supporting young talent and nurturing new businesses including crafts, bakers, clothing and jewellery, with the help of local carol singers and live entertainment.

Also taking place on Saturday, December 11 and Sunday, December 12 is the Egremont Crab Fair Christmas Market.

More than 50 stalls are booked in over the weekend at Egremont Conservative Club – offering a range of quirky festive gifts, alongside children’s fairground rides, refreshments and a licensed bar.

A special Christmas experience is also available, incorporating a visit to Santa’s grotto and themed children’s activities.

Limited tickets for the Christmas experience, costing £10, must be booked in advance.

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