Best Christmas markets in the UK
· ·

The best Christmas markets in the UK: an ultimate guide

Fancy getting in the festive spirit, but not sure which are the best Christmas markets in the UK? As a huge fan of a Christmas market, I share my guide to the very best to visit this festive period.

As the festive period approaches, the air gets crisper, the lights twinkle a little brighter, and the delightful aroma of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts fills the streets. Christmas markets across the UK offer a magical escape into a world of festive cheer and seasonal delights. One of the defining features of modern Christmas in the UK is the abundance of Christmas markets that spring up in towns and city centres across the country. The markets vary in the attractions and entertainment they offer, but you’ll be sure to find the classics like bratwurst, gluhwein and a host of festive stalls selling gifts and treats. The Christmas markets, whether local or further afield, are definitely worth a visit to help you get in the festive spirit. In this guide, I share the best Christmas markets in the UK, having travelled the country in search of the best.

London Christmas Markets

From 17th November 2023 to 1st January 2024

London hosts more than its fair share of unique Christmas markets across the capital, but undoubtedly, the biggest jewel in the capital’s Christmas crown is Winter Wonderland, which runs every year in Hyde Park between November and January. With nine rollercoasters, a Ferris wheel, and the largest outdoor ice rink in the country, there’s festive fun to be had by everyone. Don’t miss Magical Ice Kingdom, which showcases an incredible five-hundred tonnes of ice sculptures, with tunnels, slides, and miniature palaces. For many, it’s an annual tradition to visit Winter Wonderland to get into the Christmas spirit.

Of course, London doesn’t just have Winter Wonderland. One of the best Christmas markets in the UK, and one of my favourites in the city is the Southbank Centre Winter Market. I try and visit whenever I’m in London in November or December, and love the fact it’s along the Thames so you can enjoy the twinkling lights across the river. There’s also the stunning backdrop of iconic landmarks, including Tower Bridge. Wander through the bustling market stalls offering artisanal goods, gourmet foods, and unique trinkets. Be sure to catch a festive show at the nearby theatres or take a spin on the dazzling riverside ice rink.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to London with Skyscanner.

Where to stay: The Crescent Hotel, a great, affordable hotel that’s within easy reach of Hyde Park for visiting Winter Wonderland.

Winter Wonderland, London

York Christmas Market

From 18th November to 23rd December 2023

Experience Christmas up north with frequent and direct trains from London to York, and soak up the medieval charm of York. Head to St Nicholas Fair and take a walk to soak up the festive atmosphere. York Christmas markets have a real focus on local craftspeople and independent traders, showcasing their local produce in the Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village. York residents can enjoy a 10% discount thanks to the York Card. If you’re looking for more traditional Christmas gifts, make sure to squeeze in some shopping at the alpine chalets on Parliament Street. Many of the traders are listed online, with vendors ranging from culinary accessories to handmade wreaths, so get your Christmas shopping in early.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to Manchester with Skyscanner, and take a 1.5 hour train to York.

Where to stay: Jorvik House is a beautiful boutique hotel that is just a short walk from York Christmas Market.

Best Christmas markets in the UK

Manchester Christmas Market

From 11th November to 22nd December 2023 

This year, Manchester marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of its famous Christmas Market. It’s the original, biggest, and many say the best Christmas market in England, attracting over nine million visitors each year. Spread over nine sites in the city centre, with more than three hundred chalet-style stalls, Manchester’s streets have transformed into a Christmas extravaganza. The hub of the action is Piccadilly Gardens set against the backdrop of the iconic Manchester Town Hall, but you’ll also find stalls in Cathedral Gardens, Exchange Street, Exchange Square, and the Corn Exchange. One of the best Christmas markets in the UK, you’ll find everything here from handcrafted gifts and traditional decorations to international foods and local delicacies. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in a mug of steaming mulled wine as you soak in the lively atmosphere.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to Manchester with Skyscanner.

Where to stay: Whitworth Locke is located in a beautiful 19th century building located just a short distance from Manchester Christmas Market and the city’s trendy Northern Quarter.

Best Christmas markets in the UK

Edinburgh Christmas Market

From 17th November 2023 to 6th January 2024

In Scotland’s historic capital, Edinburgh, the Christmas markets bring a magical touch to the city’s festive season. One of the best Christmas markets in the UK, Edinburgh’s Christmas Market has gained its notoriety from the Ferris Wheel it hosts every year – the biggest in the country! Found in East Princes Street Gardens, it boasts spectacular views of the surrounding city. The Winter Garden also provides a chance to see Santa Claus in Santa’s Grotto, and to skate on a covered Ice Rink. The Princes Street Gardens host an array of stalls showcasing unique crafts, exquisite Scottish goods, and delectable treats. Take a spin on the Christmas carousel, enjoy the panoramic views from the Big Wheel, and wander through the charming markets filled with local artisans’ creations. Don’t miss a mulled Irn Bru, and stock up on Harry Potter themed gifts.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to Edinburgh with Skyscanner.

Where to stay: I’ve always loved the YOTEL group of hotels – they’re clean, simple, and well-located. I’d recommend staying in YOTEL Edinburgh, just a stone’s throw from Princes Street Gardens where Edinburgh Christmas Market is located.

Cardiff Christmas Market

From 9th November to 23rd December 2023

The Cardiff Christmas market puts its emphasis on traditional German vendors and a Christmas Carvery, which sells everything from classic roast turkey to Yorkshire puddings. Look for the big circular stall that sits at the end of the street, where there are many kinds of German sausage for sale. As well as food and drink, treat yourself and your loved ones to some Christmas gifts from the selection of stalls. Cardiff Christmas Market is a must-visit destination during the festive season for its unique blend of Welsh charm, artisanal treasures, and a vibrant atmosphere. Set against the backdrop of Cardiff’s historic city centre, the Christmas market showcases a diverse array of local crafts, handmade gifts, and delectable Welsh delicacies. The warm and welcoming ambiance, complemented by live music and the scent of mulled wine and freshly baked goods, creates an enchanting experience that captures the essence of a Welsh Christmas.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to Cardiff with Skyscanner.

Where to stay: the Parkgate Hotel is centrally located for the Cardiff Christmas market and has luxurious rooms, a fitness centre, and a bar.

Best Christmas markets in the UK

Bath Christmas Market

From 23rd November to 10th December 2023

Nestled in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage city, Bath‘s Christmas Market exudes an old-world charm. One of the best Christmas markets in the UK, it’s a festive delight that enchants visitors with its picturesque setting and vibrant ambiance. The picturesque chalet-style stalls lining the streets offer an array of handmade crafts, artisanal gifts, and tempting culinary delights. In fact, there are over 170 beautifully decorated wooden chalets selling treats and gifts. Transforming Bath into a winter wonderland, the twinkling lights against Bath Abbey’s backdrop creates a magical atmosphere that’s hard to resist. From intricately designed ornaments to locally produced crafts, it’s the perfect stop for picking up gifts and treats to take home. The scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts fills the air as visitors wander through the bustling lanes, embracing the festive spirit that Bath’s Christmas Market so beautifully encapsulates.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to nearby Bristol with Skyscanner, and take a 30 min train to Bath.

Where to stay: The Z Hotel Bath is in a prime location for Bath Christmas market and the city’s other main attractions.

Bath Christmas market

Birmingham Christmas Market

From 2nd November to 24th December 2023

One of the best Christmas markets in the UK, Birmingham‘s Frankfurt Christmas Market is one of the largest authentic German markets outside of Germany and Austria. It brings a taste of traditional German culture to the UK with its festive stalls serving up mouthwatering bratwurst, pretzels, and gingerbread. Explore the beautifully crafted wooden ornaments, unique gifts, and experience the jovial atmosphere reminiscent of a German Christmas village. You’ll also discover live music and the aroma of mulled wine for a truly immersive experience. Birmingham Christmas Market is set against the city’s iconic Victoria Square and vibrant New Street. Organised by Birmingham’s sister city of Frankfurt, the market boasts over 100 stalls selling artisan crafts and gifts. Don’t miss the 65-foot Christmas tree while enjoying a mulled wine or two, as well as the ice rink and big wheel in the city’s Centenary Square.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to Birmingham with Skyscanner

Where to stay: the Radisson Blue Hotel is a modern hotel in a glass skyscraper, just a short stroll from Birmingham Christmas Market.

Best Christmas markets in the UK

Chester Christmas Market

 From 17th November to 21st December 2023 

The Chester Christmas Market is a magic seasonal attraction that beckons visitors with its historic charm and festivities. Nestled in the heart of Chester, this market offers a unique blend of traditional and contemporary Christmas experiences. You might find that it’s a little less commercial than other Christmas markets in the UK, and instead more traditional and nostalgic. The market features over 70 quaint wooden chalets surrounded by the Christmas tree in the heart of the city, each showcasing an array of artisanal crafts, handmade gifts, and tempting treats. Visitors can indulge in local delicacies, from mulled wine to artisan cheeses, while browsing through stalls filled with handcrafted jewellery, festive decorations, and unique souvenirs. Don’t miss a delicious hog roast bap and a pint from the real ale bar before you leave.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to nearby Manchester with Skyscanner, and take a 30 minute train to Chester.

Where to stay: I’d recommend staying at The Hotel Chester – it’s located in the heart of Chester city centre, has cosy, comfortable rooms, and there’s a hot tub to enjoy.

Chester Christmas market

Winchester Christmas Market

From 17th November to 21st December 2023

Winchester Christmas Market is well worth visiting for its charm, making it a must-visit during the festive season. One of the best Christmas markets in the UK, it’s set against the backdrop of Winchester Cathedral. It has an enchanting atmosphere, and a unique blend of historic beauty and festive spirit. The market’s quaint wooden chalets, adorned with twinkling lights, feature products from a range of handpicked, high-quality exhibitors. Visitors can explore an array of offerings, from artisanal crafts and handmade gifts to delectable seasonal treats, including mulled wine and local specialties. The market’s traditional setting, combined with live music and a joyful ambiance, makes Winchester an ideal destination to soak up the spirit of Christmas while discovering unique treasures within an idyllic festive setting. Don’t miss the cheerful sound of local carol singers and choirs, as well as other festive live performances.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to nearby Southampton with Skyscanner, and take a 10 minute journey to Winchester.

Where to stay: The Mercure Winchester Wessex Hotel is perfectly positioned for the Winchester Christmas Market, in the historic city centre. It has a great view of Winchester Cathedral, too.

Winchester Christmas Market

Nottingham Christmas Market

From 18th November to 31st December 2023 

Nottingham Christmas Market is a delightful destination during the holiday season, offering a festive experience with its unique attractions and vibrant atmosphere. Set in the heart of the city centre, the market features over 70 Bavarian-style stalls decorated with twinkling lights, offering an array of crafts, gifts, and tempting seasonal treats. What sets Nottingham apart is its Winter Wonderland, where visitors can enjoy an ice rink, a magical ice bar, and thrilling fairground rides – the perfect place to soak in the Christmas spirit. It also happens to be the largest event in the East Midlands, and entry to the Nottingham Winter Wonderland is free. The market’s warm ambiance, live entertainment, and an impressive selection of food and drinks from artisan cheese to chutneys, create a lively atmosphere. The Christmas market makes Nottingham a fantastic place to embrace the holiday spirit and enjoy a diverse range of festive activities for all ages.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to nearby East Midlands Airport with Skyscanner, and take a short drive to Nottingham.

Where to stay: Lace Market Hotel is a stylish Georgian townhouse situated in Nottingham’s chic Lace Market district. It’s perfectly positioned for a short stroll to Nottingham Christmas Market.

Best Christmas markets in the UK

Glasgow Christmas Market

From 18th November to 3rd January 2024 

Glasgow Christmas Market is the perfect place to visit this Christmas – it’a a festive delight that beckons visitors with its vibrant energy and diverse activities. Nestled in the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, the market boasts a splendid array of colourful stalls offering unique gifts, artisanal crafts, and delectable seasonal treats. It offers great shopping, delicious food and drinks, and a busy events schedule against the festive city centre backdrop. One of the best Christmas markets in the UK, what sets Glasgow’s market apart is its Scottish charm and a wide range of locally produced goods, adding an authentic touch to the festive experience. The market’s upbeat atmosphere, festive lights, live entertainment creates a warm and inviting ambiance for visitors to explore, shop, and indulge in traditional Scottish delicacies. With its blend of local charm and festive spirit, Glasgow Christmas Market celebrates the season for locals and visitors alike.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to Glasgow Airport with Skyscanner.

Where to stay: for a great, affordable hotel that’s centrally located for the Christmas Market, I recommend booking Leonardo Hotel Glasgow, which overlooks the River Clyde.

Glasgow Christmas Market

Newcastle Christmas Market

From 18th November to 23rd December 2023  

Newcastle Christmas Market is a festive destination that invites visitors to experience the Christmas spirit in a vibrant atmosphere. Set against the stunning backdrop of Grey Street and Grey’s Monument, the market has an array of stalls offering everything from gloves to Christmas cakes to locally brewed beer. What makes Newcastle’s market special is its bustling ambiance, live music and entertainment, creating a fun experience for all ages. On one day of the Newcastle Christmas Market each year, it merges with the Farmers’ Market so that shoppers can buy delicious local produce in time for Christmas. You can also spot Santa, and enjoy music from local choirs for a truly festive feel. Visitors can explore the stalls and indulge in festive foods, making Newcastle Christmas Market a perfect place to enjoy the holiday cheer in a lively and welcoming city atmosphere.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to Newcastle Airport with Skyscanner.

Where to stay: I recommend staying at Grey Street Hotel, a boutique hotel situated centrally on Newcastle’s Grey Street, just a few minutes’ walk from Newcastle Christmas Market.

Best Christmas markets in the UK

Kingston Upon Thames Christmas Market

From 16th November to 31st December 2023

Kingston upon Thames hosts a traditional Christmas market that oozes festive charm and community spirit. Nestled along the scenic riverside, the market offers a delightful mix of stalls showcasing artisanal crafts, unique gifts, and seasonal delights. What makes Kingston’s market special is its intimate and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for a relaxed and enjoyable shopping experience. Visitors can explore the variety of offerings while savouring delicious food and drinks, all against the backdrop of the picturesque views over the Thames. The market’s emphasis on local vendors and community engagement creates a cozy and authentic ambiance, making it an ideal place to embrace the holiday spirit, find special treasures, and enjoy a festive outing in a charming riverside setting.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to nearby Heathrow Airport with Skyscanner, and take a short drive to Kingston-upon-Thames.

Where to stay: For a luxurious stay, I can’t recommend the Mitre Hotel enough. Set on the River Thames opposite Hampton Court Palace, it’s an upmarket boutique hotel that’s the perfect stay when visiting Kingston-upon-Thames Christmas Market.

Best Christmas markets in the UK

Leeds Christmas Market

From 24th November to 17th December 2023

Leeds Christmas Market offers a magical festive experience in the heart of the city. The market, spread across multiple locations including Millennium Square and the traditional Christkindelmarkt at Victoria Gardens, offers a Christmas extravaganza. Visitors are treated to a diverse array of Alpine inspired chalet stalls decorated with twinkling lights, offering an assortment of unique gifts, crafts, and seasonal treats. What makes Leeds’ market stand out is its bustling atmosphere, live music, and a delightful selection of German delicacies like bratwurst, schnitzel, and glühwein. Don’t miss the hugely popular 400 sqm Ice Cube@Christmas outdoor skating rink. The combination of traditional market charm and modern festive offerings creates a vibrant ambiance, providing visitors with a fun Christmas experience amidst the lively city surroundings.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to Leeds Bradford Airport with Skyscanner.

Where to stay: Leeds’ Met Hotel is a beautiful Grade II listed hotel located in the heart of the city centre, perfect for walking to and from Leeds Christmas Market.

Leeds Christmas Market

Bristol Christmas Market

From 3rd November to 23rd December 2023

Bristol’s Christmas Market is a festive destination that attracts visitors with its vibrant atmosphere. One of the best Christmas markets in the UK, it’s set against the backdrop of the city’s historic Harbourside. Bristol Christmas Market boasts a delightful selection of stalls offering artisanal crafts, locally produced gifts, and tasty seasonal treats. There’s a magical winter atmosphere thanks to the 40 wooden chalets selling festive goods. What makes Bristol’s market special is its focus on supporting local businesses and showcasing the city’s creative spirit. Visitors can shop for a diverse range of unique gifts, enjoy live music, and indulge in a variety of culinary delights, all within a festive setting. This year, you’ll also find the Jägerbarn bar and beer garden, perfect for enjoying a tipple or two. The market’s blend of creativity, community spirit, and festive cheer makes Bristol a fantastic place to celebrate the holiday season.

How to get there: find the cheapest flights to Bristol Airport with Skyscanner.

Where to stay: Number 38 is a beautiful boutique hotel in the upmarket area of Clifton. Set in a Georgian townhouse, its stylish rooms are a pleasant stroll away from Bristol Christmas Market.

This roundup of the best Christmas markets in the UK not only offer an opportunity to find the perfect gifts for loved ones but also provide a heartwarming experience that celebrates the true essence of the holiday season. From savouring seasonal treats to discovering handcrafted treasures, each market in the UK offers its own festive charm and a chance to create special memories amidst the glittering lights and spirit of Christmas.

Best Christmas Markets in the UK: FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the best Christmas markets in the UK:

Which city has the best Christmas market in the UK?

Determining the ‘best’ Christmas market in the UK is pretty subjective, and each city’s Christmas market brings its own unique charm and festive spirit. In my opinion, however, Bath’s Christmas Market is the best for its magical atmosphere within the UNESCO World Heritage city. Bath’s Christmas Market captivates visitors with its picturesque chalet-style stalls, offering an array of artisanal crafts, locally made gifts, and delicious treats. The stunning backdrop of Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths adds an extra touch of magic to the experience. The market’s warmth, festive lights, and exquisite setting create an immersive and unforgettable holiday atmosphere that’s hard to resist, making Bath a top contender for the best Christmas market in the UK.

What is the most Christmassy town in England?

It’s difficult to say which is the most Christmassy town in England, but I’d say it’s York. As a city steeped in history and adorned with medieval charm, York transforms is a festive haven during the holiday season. The city’s quaint streets, decorated with twinkling lights and festive decor, set the stage for the St Nicholas Fair, a bustling Christmas market that weaves through the atmospheric lanes. The backdrop of York Minster, the iconic cathedral, adds a magical touch to the festivities. Carol singers echo through the ancient alleys, while the aroma of spiced mulled wine and roasted chestnuts fills the air, creating an magical experience that encapsulates the true spirit of Christmas in England.

Where is the biggest Christmas market?

Determining the biggest Christmas market varies depending on a few key criteria like the number of stalls, visitors, or overall size. Among the notable contenders is Germany’s Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt. It’s considered to be one of the largest and most renowned Christmas markets globally. Boasting over 180 traditional wooden stalls adorned with red and white striped roofs, this historic market spans across the city’s Old Town. Drawing millions of visitors annually, it offers an extensive array of festive delights, from handmade ornaments and intricate crafts to traditional German treats like Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Nuremberg’s famous bratwurst. The market’s centrepiece is the Christkind, the iconic Christmas angel, who opens the festivities with a prologue, adding to the market’s magical and vibrant atmosphere.

Where is the most famous Christmas market?

Strasbourg Christmas Market in France is often considered to be one of the most famous and iconic Christmas markets globally, earning the title of the ‘Capital of Christmas’. Renowned for its centuries-old tradition dating back to 1570, the market transforms the city into a festive paradise, featuring hundreds of stalls scattered across the city centre. The market’s picturesque setting, with its quaint timbered houses and stunning Gothic cathedral serves as a magical backdrop for visitors. Offering an array of crafts, traditional Alsatian treats like bredele (Christmas cookies), mulled wine, and intricate decorations, the Strasbourg Christmas Market offers a quintessential Christmas experience, attracting millions of visitors from around the world each year.

What is the most beautiful village in the UK at Christmas?

The Cotswold village of Bibury stands out as one of the most enchanting and picturesque villages in the UK at Christmas. Although I might be biased, having grown up in the Cotswolds near Bibury, it’s beautiful with its honey-coloured stone cottages adorned with festive decorations and twinkling lights. The village’s iconic Arlington Row, a row of ancient cottages, provides a stunning backdrop for the festive atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you might be able to visit when it snows, with a light dusting across the charming streets. The quaint feel, traditional architecture, and timeless beauty of Bibury create a captivating setting that make it a quintessentially English Christmas village, just like a scene from The Holiday.

Which UK city has the best Christmas lights?

It might be obvious, but one of the UK’s most dazzling displays of Christmas lights is in London. The capital city lights up with an array of spectacular illuminations across its iconic landmarks and shopping areas. Oxford Street, known for its incredible shopping, showcases an impressive display of twinkling lights. Regent Street follows suit with its lights and decorations, adding to the festive cheer. Additionally, Covent Garden, Carnaby Street, and Trafalgar Square are adorned with stunning installations, while renowned landmarks like the London Eye and Tower Bridge are illuminated in festive colours, contributing to London’s reputation for hosting some of the most stunning and elaborate Christmas lights in the UK.

Where is the oldest Christmas market in the UK?

The oldest Christmas market in the UK is believed to be in Lincoln. Dating back to the 11th century, the Lincoln Christmas Market has a rich history steeped in tradition, making it one of the country’s most historic festive gatherings. Nestled within the shadow of Lincoln Cathedral, the market boasts a unique medieval charm that draws visitors from far and wide. The market’s roots trace back to the time of King William the Conqueror, earning it a place in history as a vibrant celebration of the holiday season. With its backdrop of historic architecture, authentic stalls offering crafts, gifts, and seasonal treats, the Lincoln Christmas Market continues to enchant visitors while honouring its centuries-old legacy.

Is Birmingham Christmas market the biggest in the UK?

While the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is one of the largest and most authentic German-style markets in the UK, claiming the title of the ‘biggest Christmas market in the UK’ depends on a number of factors. These include number of stalls, visitors, and area covered. Birmingham Christmas Market spans across several areas of Birmingham’s city centre, showcasing around 180 traditional wooden stalls offering a wide array of German delicacies, crafts, and festive gifts. Known for its authentic German ambiance, delicious bratwursts, and Glühwein (mulled wine), it certainly holds a prominent place among the country’s festive markets. However, whether it’s the ‘biggest’ in terms of size, visitor numbers, or overall scale can vary each year, as other markets in cities like Manchester, Edinburgh, and London also draw significant crowds.

That’s my comprehensive guide to the best Christmas markets in the UK. Are there any you disagree with, or any you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.