Europe & Britain | Destination Guides

The 14 best Christmas markets to visit in the UK

The winter holiday season is a magical time of the year, with the Christmas markets in the UK bringing glittering lights, beautiful gifts, carol-singers, ice rinks and endless mugs of mulled wine. From Bath to Belfast, London to Leeds, and Glasgow to Cardiff, you’ll find some of the most enchanting Yuletide celebrations in the region’s cities. So where to go first? We’ve put together our guide to the best Christmas markets in the UK to visit on your next winter holiday.

1. Bath Christmas Market

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As one of the most beloved British Christmas markets and the biggest festive shopping event in the South West of England, you can’t miss the Bath Christmas Market. You’ll enter a gorgeous world of choirs and carolers and over 150 decorated wooden chalets lining the World Heritage Georgian streets surrounding the 16th-century Bath Abbey. 

There’s everything from artisan jewellery and handmade knitted clothes, to delicious festive food like gingerbread and cheese. Even better, the majority of the stallholders come from Bath and South West England, with most of the treasures handmade in the UK. So you can be sure you’re supporting the real locals of Britain with your visit. 

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2. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

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When London puts on a Christmas show, they don’t hold back. The city pulls out all the stops in the merry season to deliver the Hyde Park Christmas market and it’s one of the best in the UK.

The incredible Winter Wonderland is home to the Magical Ice Kingdom, the largest open-air ice rink in Britain, and the world’s tallest transportable observation wheel. You’ll also get to see all kinds of performances from funny acts in the Comedy Club to circus displays and the amazing Paddington on Ice. 

With over 100 rides and attractions, plenty of bars and food stalls, and even a traditional German Christmas market with over 200 gorgeous chalets, you could spend days exploring this Yuletide paradise.

3. Manchester Christmas Markets

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Recently hailed as one of Europe’s best Christmas markets, you know you’re in for a treat when you head to the Manchester Christmas Market. It’s been bringing festive cheer to the city since 1999 and you’ll get to explore more than 300 twinkling stalls and chalets surrounding Albert Square, beneath the Town Hall. 

You’ll find it all here, from artisan jewellery and homewares to handmade toys, and you can even check out all the different themed markets. We love the German market, French market, World market and the impressive Arts & Crafts market.

Don’t forget to stop at the mouthwatering food and drink stalls, with Yuletide treats like hog roast, paella, bratwurst and Belgian chocolate. And be sure to check out all the amazing performers, from magicians to street theatre.

RELATED CONTENT: Why You Should Spend Christmas in the UK This Year

4. Edinburgh Christmas Markets

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Set in the East Princes Street Gardens with stunning views of Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish capital puts on one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. The Edinburgh Christmas Market runs from mid-November to early January, so there’s plenty of time to check out all the market treasures.

There are dozens of German-style wooden chalets lining the streets, with plenty of locally made gifts, and festive food and drinks including mulled Irn Bru! There’s even the Santa Land with rides for all ages and Santa’s Grotto lighting up Castle Street. Whether you take a ride on the dazzling Big Wheel or check out the street performances and concerts, the Edinburgh Christmas Market is sure to be magical.

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5. Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market

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Looking for a slice of German Yuletide cheer at your Christmas markets in the UK? The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest authentic German Christmas market in Europe (besides Germany and Austria of course). You’ll find over 180 dazzling stalls spread across Victoria Square, Centenary Square and New Street. 

It’s easy to get into the Christmas spirit as you soak up the atmosphere of carol singers and live music, all while sampling bratwursts, pretzels, schnitzels and glühwein.

If you’re after some Christmas gifts, you’ll find everything from carved wooden toys to handmade candles, soaps and jewellery by local artisans. You can even get your skates on the glittering ice rink or get a panoramic view of Birmingham on the Big Wheel.

6. Belfast Christmas Market

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Set on the stunning grounds of the Belfast City Hall, the Belfast Christmas Market is one of the best festive affairs in Northern Ireland. You can wander dozens of stalls with handmade crafts and gifts and ride the glowing carousel. You can even visit Santa in his charming grotto, or zip down the vintage Helter Skelter!

You’re also in for a culinary treat, with the outdoor food court dishing up all kinds of international cuisine. Munch on hog roast or French crepes and cheeses, and if you’re feeling brave, you can even try alligator, wild boar and kangaroo. For a true Northern Irish experience, head to Lavery’s traditional Irish bar. Here you can sip a warm glass of glühwein or local beer, and enjoy the live music.

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7. Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market

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Often hailed as one of the best Christmas markets in the UK and Europe, the Winchester Cathedral Market is not to be missed. It’s set in the grand Winchester Cathedral’s historic Inner Close, with over 100 German-inspired chalets.

The hand-picked vendors offer up all kinds of hand-crafted treasures you just can’t buy in the stores, like painted textiles and exquisite glass-work. While you shop, tuck into traditional fare like stollen and mulled wine or warm up on the open-air ice rink. With a giant glittering Christmas tree and even a magical Lantern Parade, Winchester sure knows how to put on a Christmas party you won’t forget.

8. Glasgow Christmas Markets

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With a backdrop of stunning Victorian architecture, the Glasgow Christmas Market is one of the best in the UK. You’ll love wandering the streets lined with twinkling lights and stalls, and you’re sure to find some unique stocking-fillers.

There’s a wonderful selection of cuisine and handmade gifts from Scotland and beyond, including painted Russian dolls, Swedish woollen clothes and Italian nougat. You can even stop by the Bavarian beerhouse and the Glühwein House run by winegrowers from the beautiful Mosel Valley. 

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9. Chester Christmas Market

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This historic city in northwest England is known for its ancient Roman fortress and walls, Tudor-style timber buildings… And the enchanting Chester Christmas Market. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, this is one of the best English Christmas markets to visit. There’s over 70 classic wooden chalets set in the city’s Town Hall Square with the stunning Chester Cathedral as the backdrop.

Browse the stalls for handmade crafts, clothing, jewellery and local produce, then grab some mulled wine or a delicious hog roast bap. Be sure to snap a photo by the dazzling Christmas tree and stop by the Real Ale Bar for a Christmas cocktail or a local cask ale.

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10. Leeds Christkindelmarkt

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The city of Leeds transforms its Millennium Square into a magical winter village every year for the Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market. You’ll find over 40 beautiful decorated wooden chalets, authentic German food and amazing performances.

Ride the gorgeous carousel and go shopping for handmade crafts, jewellery and Christmas decorations. Munch on Germany treats like stollen, roasted nuts, gingerbread, bratwurst and warm mugs of glühwein, then kick back in the Alp Chalet at the centre of the market. This Bavarian-style eatery has plenty of mouthwatering traditional dishes plus live entertainment. 

11. Stratford-upon-Avon Victorian Christmas Market

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If you like your Christmas markets in the UK with a dose of history, you’ve got to visit the award-winning Stratford-upon-Avon’s Victorian Christmas Market Festival. There’s over 300 stalls spread throughout the town centre, with the vendors decked out in their amazing Victorian costumes.

There’s also plenty of live entertainment, with performances on Henley Street, a Community Craft Fair on Sheep Street, and a traditional fair on Wood Street that is sure to delight the whole family.

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12. Cardiff Christmas Market

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The capital of Wales goes all out for their Christmas market, with five streets across the city centre filled with over 200 twinkling wooden stalls. The Cardiff Christmas Market aims to support local artists and creators, and you’ll find their finest works here.

Browse for handcrafted scarves, blankets, homewares, bags, glasswork, wooden carvings, jewellery, candles, chocolates and more. You’re sure to find the perfect gift for everyone, and you’ll also get to enjoy the street entertainment and live music as you shop to your heart’s content.

13. Southbank Centre Winter Festival

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London puts on yet another spectacular Christmas show at the Nordic-inspired Winter Market in the Southbank Centre, with views of the glimmering River Thames and London Eye. The whole place becomes a festive paradise, with brightly lit wooden cabins selling traditional and wacky gifts.

Plus, there’s all your favourite Yuletide treats like mince pies, hot chocolate, mulled wine and spiced cider. Do some shopping, grab a bite to eat, then wander along the market to check out the giant Christmas tree. Don’t miss the fantastic Christmas concerts, circus entertainment and choir performances!

RELATED CONTENT: Last Christmas has us falling in love all over again with these 6 iconic London hotspots

14. Nottingham Winter Wonderland

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As the largest Christmas markets in the East Midlands, Nottingham goes all out for its Christmas market. Held in the Old Market Square with over 70 Bavarian-inspired stalls, you’ll spend hours exploring this enchanting Christmas market. There’s even a charming carousel, giant ice rink and a thrilling toboggan slide!

First, do your Christmas shopping with everything from artworks, plants and homewares to artisanal food like chocolate and cheeses. Then relax in the wintery venues, like the Ice Bar with amazing ice sculptures. There’s also the Altitude Bar, a glass chalet with Christmas cocktails, a private DJ and impressive views.

What are your favourite Christmas markets in the UK? Let us know in the comments below!

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