Twinkling lights, mulled wine, a holiday atmosphere and fabulous gifts – Britain’s Christmas markets are back and better than ever before! Set in some of Britain’s loveliest cities, discover some of our favourites for an experience that’s both a perfect place for Christmas shopping and festive destination discovery!
A firm favourite on the yuletide calendar is the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria. In its 80+ stalls, not only will you find a fine range of traditional, personalised gifts but you'll also get the chance to channel the German spirit while feasting on schnitzels, bratwursts, glühwein, and weissbeer. The market is accessibly located in Victoria Square, complete with a show-stopping programme of live music and carol singers that’s set to bring the party atmosphere to festive shopping.
For historic-ambience-meets-winter-style, head to Bath Christmas Market, where 150+ pop-up chalets set up on the city’s pretty Georgian streets. You can expect a real treasure trove of gifts to take home, whether that’s jewellery, homewares, or decorations. More than 80% of stallholders come from Bath and South West England and 99% of all products are handmade in Britain or abroad with Fair Trade certification. So, if you’re looking for an eco-savvy holiday shopping experience, this is the market for you! While exploring the new stalls, as well as the perennial favourites, be sure to fill your empty belly with a range of festive food from The Lodge in the heart of the market.
The popular Winter Market returns to London’s Southbank Centre, a seasonal pleasure that sits alongside a range of family shows and festive fun as the banks of the River Thames become a winter wonderland. Wander along the South Bank and you’ll discover strings of decorations and cute illuminated wooden cabins selling Christmas gifts, from the quirky to the traditional, as well as mince pies, spiced cider and steaming mugs of mulled wine and hot chocolate. Global cuisines are available too, in the form of festive treats to gift or to eat there and then. Make sure you grab a selfie by the huge Christmas tree!
The Manchester Christmas Markets will take over locations across the city, meaning you won’t be far from festive gifts and delicious food and drink stalls selling traditional bratwurst, hog roast, paella and much more. There will be more than 300 stalls and chalets across the city, with the heart of the markets found in Albert Square. Follow the trail and pick up jewellery, toys, plants, bags, homeware and fun, quirky gifts at a variety of markets, including a French market, a German market, a World Christmas market and a dedicated Arts & Crafts market.
Also check out: Winter Funland, which will be held at an indoor venue and include fairground attractions, an ice rink, a circus and other fun performances; Halle’s (Manchester’s Orchestra’s) Christmas Concerts at Bridgewater Hall and Ice Village Manchester, the UK's biggest-ever ice attraction which includes an Arctic Tiki Bar, Santa's Grotto and an ice rink.
With its unique location in the shadow of Winchester’s great cathedral, Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market is widely regarded as one of Europe’s best. 100+ chalets are home to hand-picked exhibitors offering exclusive gifts that you won’t find on the high street – from hand-crafted decorations and festive treats to craft beer and mulled wine.
Also check out: Skate around the city’s covered Christmas Ice Rink and marvel at the glittering Christmas tree in its centre; or visit the Ginchester Christmas Market, a celebration of the region’s diverse spirits including local gin, whisky, vodka and rum.
Set against the backdrop of one of the Northern Irish capital’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall, the Belfast Christmas Market returns with its enviable mix of artisan products and stalls groaning with tasty treats from international cuisines in its outdoor food court. Indulge in crepes, a hog roast, glühwein and continental cheeses, then make it a truly Northern Irish experience and visit Lavery’s traditional Irish bar for fantastic live music to really get in the Christmas spirit. Travelling with kids? They’ll love riding the vintage carousel or zipping down the helter skelter, as well as taking a trip to visit Santa in his magical grotto.
Set across five streets of Cardiff’s pedestrianised city centre, Cardiff’s Christmas Market will be in full swing, leaving plenty of time to find the perfect gift among its stalls. Its ethos is hosting stallholders selling original, hand-made products and artists and crafts people selling their work. You’ll find plenty of food and drink options available among the 200+ stallholders and there’ll be music, festive lights and entertainment transforming the streets.
Millennium Square in Leeds is transformed for the city’s annual Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market, with the addition of more than 40 traditionally decorated wooden chalets. Browse through hand-crafted jewelry and festive decorations, tuck into authentic German food, and feel extra festive with a ride on the popular Christmas Carousel. If you’re still feeling hungry, visit the Alp Chalet restaurant in the centre of the market, a Bavarian style eatery offering a delectable selection of traditional food and drink, alongside evening entertainment.
Also check out: Thor’s Tipi in Victoria Gardens, a pop-up tipi bar offering an array of winter warming drinks; the massed voices of Inspiration Choir as they join forces with the Orchestra of Opera North for Inspiration: A Christmas Extravaganza at Leeds Town Hall; and the Leeds Playhouse festive production of The Night Before Christmas.
Travel back in time for three days of festive fun at the Victorian Christmas Festival, held in the impressive surroundings of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The festival is home to 120 market stalls selling all sorts of festive treats, an array of Victorian street performers and the chance to meet Father Christmas.
Also check out: Mix up a treat as the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower hosts two Christmas Cocktail Parties; Meet Father Christmas at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum and enjoy lashings of festive fun during the That’ll Be The Day Christmas Show at Kings Theatre.
Even if you’re paying a visit to Edinburgh after Christmas, you’ll still get the chance to enjoy some festive treats as Edinburgh’s Christmas market continues into early January as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas. While it’s not open on Christmas Day, it is open until 8pm on Christmas Eve so bring plenty of bags to fill up with goodies such as arts and crafts, foodie treats and traditional or bespoke Christmas products. The market itself takes place in East Princes Street Gardens, guaranteeing some gorgeous views of Edinburgh Castle in the background and easy access to some of the city’s major attractions.
Also check out: The Big Wheel and funfair rides on East Princes Street Gardens; and an adaption of Charles Dickens classic An Edinburgh Christmas Carol at the Lyceum.
Transforming one of London’s spectacular parks, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland offers a festive paradise in the heart of the city. The Wonderland is home to the world’s tallest transportable observation wheel, a Magical Ice Kingdom and an array of comedic acts at its own Comedy Club. Visitors of all ages can also discover Britain’s largest open air ice rink and plenty of bars and food stalls. Enjoy jaw-dropping circus acts and don’t miss Paddington on Ice, a stunning show combining cutting-edge choreography, toe-tapping music and impressive costumes.
Also check out: The festive window displays at Hamleys, Selfridge’s and Harrods, plus the capital’s festive lights around the shopping hubs of Regent’s Street and Oxford Street.
Short-listed as one of Europe's top 20 Christmas markets by European Best Destinations and voted second in Vogue’s round-up, Nottingham Winter Wonderland is the largest festive event in the East Midlands. Held in the Old Market Square, it's a font of festive fun and gift ideas. With 70+ Bavarian-inspired stalls selling everything from plants, food, and jewellery to eco art and home accessories.
Glide along the 1,110-sq metre ice rink, celebrate the holiday season with an adrenaline rush on the Toboggan Slide or keep little ones amused on the carousel. Afterwards, relax at the Ice Bar, a magical, winter-themed venue filled with intricate ice sculptures, or head to Altitude Bar, a glass chalet-style bar offering panoramic views, a private DJ and those all-important Christmas cocktails.
The past comes to life as Stratford-upon-Avon’s Victorian Christmas Market Festival returns, running throughout the world-renowned town centre. Festive cheer will be spread with 300+ stalls selling a whole host of seasonal products and traders decked out in their finest Victorian costumes. Entertainment is hosted throughout the town, along with stage in Henley Street hosting an array of performances for everyone to enjoy, a traditional funfair, and a Community Craft Fair in the Town Hall on Sheep Street.