Get in the festive spirit with our guide to the best Christmas markets in the UK. From Christmas markets in Bath and Birmingham to York and Belfast, the UK’s favourite Christmas markets offer tons of Yuletide fun for the entire family.
Not only do Britain’s best Christmas markets offer you the chance to buy unique and handmade Christmas presents and stocking fillers, they’re a wonderful place to sample festive fare from around the globe. Many Christmas markets have expanded to include funfairs, ice rinks, music and live entertainment – all designed to keep the fun going once you’re stocked up on Christmas goodies.
Experience the magic of a Christmas market without travelling abroad with our guide to the best Christmas markets around the UK.
Bath Christmas Market 2018
Bath Christmas market has emerged as one of the most visited Christmas markets in the UK. Set against the backdrop of the city’s Roman Baths and 16th Century Abbey, Bath Christmas market runs from November 22 to December 9, 2018 – a fairly short period compared to other UK Christmas markets. It’s incredibly popular, with tourists travelling from far and wide, attracted by Bath’s rich historic and cultural heritage.
The Bath Christmas Market offers plenty of choice. Over 180 chalets festooned with lights line the Georgian streets. Pick your way through the crowds and you’ll find stalls selling everything from ceramics, glassware and homeware, to homemade jewellery, Christmas decorations and cosy knitwear. Most items are made by artisans and businesses local to the area. Satisfy any appetite you’ve worked up with a wide selection of festive food and drink including mulled wine, sweets, gingerbread along with regional cheeses and other fare.
Find out more at the official Bath Christmas Market website.
Belfast Christmas Market 2018
Celebrate the Christmas season with an eclectic mix of European influences that bring Belfast’s Christmas Market to life. Held in the beautiful grounds of Belfast City Hall, the Belfast Christmas Market runs from November 17 to December 22, 2018. You can wander around stalls selling a global array of gifts, as well as enjoy live music at Lavery’s traditional Irish bar or visit the Continental Bar and sample the delights of a glass of glühwein to help keep the chill of winter at bay.
Food is a prominent feature at this market. From stalls selling Belgian chocolates and French tarts, to European cheeses and German sausages, you’ll find the perfect gift for any foodie. Don’t leave without sampling the huge hog roast with a mug of beer, or round things off with crepes or baklava.
Find out more at the Visit Belfast website.
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market 2018
Inspired by the famous market held in Birmingham’s twin city Frankfurt, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest German market outside Germany and Austria. It also claims to be the largest Christmas market in the UK. So if you want to experience the sounds and sights of a German Christmas market without the hassle and cost of travelling abroad, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas market is a good choice. It runs from November 15 to December 23, 2018.
Germanic influence abounds. Browse through the 120 stalls in Victoria Square and New Street in search of traditional wooden toys and Christmas gifts. There’s plenty of Germanic food to tempt the tastebuds, too. Expect stalls groaning under the weight of fresh Pretzels, bratwursts, schnitzels and roasted almonds. Finish festivities off with wheat beer or hot chocolate. It’s also worth a wander to Centenary Square to visit the big wheel and ice rink.
Find out more at Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market website.
Cardiff Christmas Market 2018
Welsh businesses form the heart of the Cardiff Christmas Market, with more than 90% of stall holders being native firms. Packing the pedestrianised city centre, the Cardiff Christmas market features over 190 stalls and runs from November 15 to December 23, 2018. There’s lots on offer, including children’s toys and outfits, glassware and ceramics, jewellery, knitwear and local artwork. Allow plenty of time to explore.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the stalls, the Cardiff Christmas Market has plenty to keep people entertained, including a funfair and ice rink at Winter Wonderland and Santa’s Grotto in the atmospheric setting of Cardiff Castle.
Find out more at the official Cardiff Christmas Market website.
Edinburgh Christmas market 2018
Edinburgh plays host to several Christmas markets, worthy of exploring. As well as being packed with stalls offering a wide range of Christmas gifts, decorations and tasty seasonal food and drink, there’s plenty to keep visitors entertained. The Edinburgh Christmas Market runs from November 16, 2018 and is open over Christmas and into the New Year, closing on January 5, 2019.
The Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens with its Star Flyer chair ride and Big Wheel is fun evening outing for all the family. Further along in George Street, you’ll find Santa’s Grotto and the new Silent Light feature.
Find out more at the official Edinburgh Christmas Market website.
Glasgow Christmas Markets 2018
Glasgow’s Christmas Markets promise to bring the spectacle, flavours and Christmas gifts from traditional European markets into the heart of Glasgow. With various markets held across the city from November 9 to December 31, 2018 Glasgow is a great place to hunt out unique stocking fillers, as well as enjoy live entertainment and the thrill of funfair rides. If you’re looking for gifts that are truly festive – and a little more unusual – Glasgow’s Christmas Markets are a great place to find painted Russian dolls, sweaters from Lapland and tasty Italian nougat. The Christmas taste adventure continues with a Bavarian beer house and a Glühwein House operated by Markus Kochems from the Mosel valley, one of the premier wine producers in the world.
Find out more – including dates – at Glasgow Loves Christmas.
Leeds Christkindelmarkt 2018
A smaller, more intimate affair than some of the massive UK Christmas Markets, Leeds Christkindelmarkt takes a more traditional route. Over 40 authentic wooden chalets line the Millennium Square, offering a great place to snap up gifts from German traders. Visit in the evening for live entertainment that is clustered around the Alp Chalet – a bustling, busy centrepiece that serves lashings of traditional German food including bratwurst and schnitzels. Leeds Christkindelmarkt runs from November 9 to December 22, 2018.
Find out more at the official Leeds Christkindelmarkt website.
Happy to travel further afield? Then get into the festive spirit with our guide to Christmas market breaks by air 2018 covering the best European Christmas markets
London Christmas Markets 2018
London has a smorgasbord of smaller markets scattered across different areas of the city, offering lots of choice for those looking for the perfect Christmas market in the capital. Notable examples include the Christmas Market in Greenwich and Christmas by the River, which stretches along The Queen’s Walk by the Tower of London.
Two London Christmas Markets deserve special mention depending on your tastes. For gifts, food and entertainment take a trip to the Winter Market at the Southbank Centre on the Southbank, while for a full-on festive fun head with the crowds to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
Winter Market at Southbank Centre 2018
Winter Marketat Southbank Centre steers clear of the glitzy, neon commercialism of Winter Wonderland, instead adopting a Nordic-inspired market theme that offers a line of wooden stalls by the river bank, interspersed with views of the twinkling Thames and glowing London Eye. It runs from 9 to 27 December, 2019.
It’s worth a visit for discovering its array of quirky gifts and Christmas handicrafts, with plenty of traditional mince pies and spiced cider to warm the cockles. And there’s plenty of entertainment at the Southbank Centre geared to younger family members.
Find out more at the Southbank Centre website.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park 2018
London’s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park has grown significantly over the past decade, expanding to include thrill rides that would be at home in a theme park, as well as loads of stalls offering gifts, goodies, food and drink. Running from November 22 2018 to January 6, 2019 it attracts a younger crowd looking for more thrilling Christmas experiences. Prices can be high, especially for rides, and you can’t take drink – even water bottles – into the park with you.
Brave the entrance, however, and there’s plenty to delight. From watching daring feats of bravery at Zippo’s Circus, to taking a rollercoaster ride or skating across the ice rink there’s plenty to do. Drink mulled wine and sample German sausage delicacies in the charming Bavarian village or head to Bar Ice for festive-themed cocktails.
Find out more at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
Manchester Christmas Market 2018
Manchester is home to a number of Christmas markets dotted around the city – offering a tapestry of events and experiences to suit all tastes. Markets are open from November 9 to December 23, 2018. The main European market is held in Albert Square in front of the town hall. There are food outlets at Exchange Square, and arts and crafts at Brazennose Street with a globally-sourced selection of jewellery, leather goods and speciality foods.
Don’t forget to check out the fairground rides in Cathedral Gardens and more stalls in New Cathedral Street and Market Street. Food is abundant with a truly European feel – sample paella from Spain, goulash from Hungary or enjoy a traditional hog roast. For gift hunters, look for stalls selling Christmas gems including amber jewellery, as well as delights such as Belgian chocolate and French soaps.
Find out more at the official Manchester City website.
Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market 2018
Set within Winchester Cathedral’s historic Inner Close and surrounded by an open-air ice rink, this German-inspired Christmas Market attracts over 350,000 visitors a year. It runs from November 17 to December 20, 2018 and plays host to over 100 stalls selling seasonal gifts and handmade items, as well as a dedicated British Crafts Village that offers glasswork and textiles. A firework display and parade on November 30 features an astonishing assortment of handmade lanterns to light the sky.
Find out more at the Winchester Cathedral website.
York Christmas Festival 2018
Enjoy the festive atmosphere of this charming medieval city as you stroll past the alpine chalets of York Christmas Market. Whether you’re looking for traditional items, or locally made Yorkshire produce, this market is a great place to shop for Christmas gifts,
Kings Square offer plenty of fun rides including an old fashioned Helter Skelter, while St Sampson’s Square rustic Yorkshire Barn is the place to sample delicious treats including hot chestnuts and glasses of warming mulled wine. York Christmas Festival runs from November 15 to December 23, 2018.
Find out more at the Visit York website.