It’s the time of the year for feasting and shopping and what better way to combine the two than a trip to a traditional Christmas market. Wander among stalls selling handicrafts, trinkets and gifts while indulging tasty festive classics like mulled wine, hot chocolate and waffles.
Our list of the top 10 Christmas markets in Britain will make the most miserly Scrooge look forward to Christmas!
Where best to begin our list than with the largest outdoor market in the UK - Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market. Located a few minutes from Birmingham New Street station, this is the biggest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria. Treat yourself to tasty German treats like schnitzels, bratwursts, and gluhwein as you peruse stalls selling traditional Christmas gifts. There’s live music at the bandstand to get you in the swing of the season’s festivities. Don’t forget to pick up a lebkuchen (gingerbread heart); it's one of the sweetest gifts you can get for your loved ones.
Opening times: 15 November - 23 December, daily, 10am -9pm.
Getting here: Birmingham is a 1 hour 20 mins hour train journey from London.
Surrounded by charming Georgian streets, Bath’s Christmas Market is one of the prettiest markets on our list. With more than 18 chalets selling locally made crafts, jewellery and homeware, you’re bound to find a gorgeous gift to take home. On Saturdays, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to keep you busy like arts and crafts workshops, face painting and storytelling. And if all the shopping leaves you exhausted, there’s plenty of spas in Bath to help you relax!
Opening times: 22 November - 9 December daily, from 10am.
Getting here: Bath is 90 minutes from London by train.
London’s Southbank is transformed into a winter wonderland as wooden cabins line the riverside and surrounding trees are draped in twinkly lights. Feast on a wide variety of food with stalls serving cuisine from all over the world at the Winter Market. Get cosy in the Circus Bar tents as you dine on hot smoked salmon or steak cooked over a sizzling fire pit. For festive entertainment check out the Christmas shows happening at the Southbank Centre during the season.
Opening times: 9 November - 27 December, daily, 11am -10pm (until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays).
Getting here: Southbank is a few minutes’ walk from London Waterloo station.
If you’re a shopaholic and love all things Christmassy, head to Manchester to get your Yuletide fix. The city has a whopping 9 (yes, 9!) Christmas markets so you’ll be spoilt for choice for where to buy presents. Manchester Christmas Markets are spread throughout the city so give yourself plenty of time to visit the traditional, French, German, World, Arts & Crafts markets and more. And remember, no visit to Manchester in winter is complete without a photo of Zippy, the giant Santa in Albert Square.
Opening times: 9 November - 22 December, daily, 10 am – 8pm. The main Christmas market at Albert Square is open until 9pm and is open for on Sunday 23 December for any last minute shopping.
Getting here: Manchester is 2 hours away from London by train.
The historic city of Winchester is always worth a visit but its Christmas market is even more incentive to go. Set in front of the elegant Winchester Cathedral, this market has an ice rink as its centrepiece and a pretty nativity scene. The crafts, trinkets and gifts on sale at Winchester Cathedral's Christmas Market are specially picked for their quality and uniqueness, so you’ll find plenty of things you can’t buy on the high street.
Opening times: 17 November - 20 December, daily, 10.30am - 6.30pm (until 8.00pm Thursday to Saturday).
Getting here: Winchester is just over an hour away from London by train.
With the grand Belfast City Hall lit up like a Christmas tree as its backdrop, Belfast Christmas Market has a distinct magical feel. Meander around the chalets selling pretty handicrafts and artisan goods. If you need a breather from all the shopping, the food court is the perfect place to rest your legs and do a spot of people watching. Serving snacks from all over the world, don’t miss the baklava crepes and the luxurious hot chocolate. Treat the little ones to a ride on the vintage carousel or helter skelter and if they are really good, a trip to Santa’s Grotto is a must!
Opening times: 17 November - 22 December, 10am-8pm Monday to Wednesday (until 10pm Thursday to Saturday).
Getting here: You can fly to Belfast from most British cities. From London it’s a 1 hour 15 mins flight.
It’ll be easy to find the perfect gift among the beautifully decorated wooden stalls of Cardiff Christmas Market. Spread across the pedestrian areas of the city, the market showcases the work of local crafts people and artists. Keep an eye out for the handcrafted clay flowers, traditionally woven Welsh tweed and handmade textile animals.
Opening times: 9 November - 22 December, daily, 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday (until 5pm on Sundays).
Getting here: Cardiff is just over 2 hours west of London by train.
This family-friendly market has more than 40 stalls selling traditional sweets, decorations, gifts and tasty German delicacies. Catch the weekly Sunday morning children’s show for sing-alongs, face painting and appearances from winter wonderland characters – you might even spot Father Christmas!
Opening times: 9 November - 22 December, daily, 10.30am -9.30pm, Monday - Saturday. Leeds Christkindlemarkt closes at 7.30pm on Sundays.
Getting here: Leeds is around 2 hours 15 minutes from London by train.
Where else would you find a Victorian-themed Christmas market than in Portsmouth, the birthplace of Charles Dickens, author of A Christmas Carol? Set within Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the Victorian-themed festival has a choir, characters from Dickens' novels, snow and a modern gin and prosecco parlour! It's only on for a short time (30 November - 2 December), so get your tickets for the Dickens Christmas Festival now.
If you don’t manage to make to the festival, Portsmouth also hosts a free traditional Christmas market from 10 November to 24 December, 9am – 7pm, Monday to Saturday, or 11am – 5pm on Sundays.
Getting here: Portsmouth is 1 hour 40 mins from London by train.
Last but not least on our list are the Edinburgh Christmas Markets, a variety of festive markets dotted around Scotland's capital city. Head to East Princes Street Garden for the traditional Christmas market for crafts, gifts and goods. Around the corner in Princes Street you’ll find the Children’s Market (located in Santa Land), perfect for stocking fillers for the little ones. Indulge in venison sausages, waffles and crepes at the European Market or pick up the finest crafts and produce in Scotland at the Scottish Market on George Street.
Opening times: 16 November - 5 January, daily from 10am-10pm.
Getting here: Edinburgh is a 4.5 hour train journey from London or 1 hour 15 mins by air.