11 of the best Christmas Markets in Britain

Twinkling lights, mulled wine, a holiday atmosphere and fabulous gifts – Britain’s Christmas markets are back and bigger and better than ever before. Set in some of Britain’s loveliest cities, discover some of our favourites for an experience that’s equal parts Christmas shopping, equal parts festive destination discovery!

1. Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market, central England

A firm favourite on the city’s yuletide calendar, Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market (7 November to 23 December) is the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria. You’ll find a fine range of traditional, personalised gifts and products on its 80 stalls and get into the German spirit while feasting on schnitzels, bratwursts, glühwein and weissbeer. Another huge draw is its bandstand location in Victoria Square and the programme of live music and carol singers that’s set to bring the party atmosphere to festive shopping.

Also check out: Outdoor skating at Ice Rink Birmingham plus the Big Wheel Experience from 7 November to 12 January, or head to Enchanted Weston, an illuminated, after-dark experience in stunning parkland with live music and food, running from 13 to 21 December.

Opening times: 15 November - 23 December, daily, 10am -9pm.
Getting here: Birmingham is a 1 hour 20 mins hour train journey from London.

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Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market

2. Bath Christmas Market, south-west England

Bath Christmas Market

For historic-ambience-meets-winter-style, head to Bath Christmas Market, as more than 150 pop-up chalets set up on the city’s pretty Georgian streets. From 5 November to 15 January 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, while 99% of all products are handmade in Britain or abroad with Fairtrade certification, so if you’re looking for an eco-savvy shopping experience, this is the market for you. There are always new stalls to explore as well as the perennial favourites, while you can fill empty bellies with a range of festive food from The Lodge in the heart of the market.

Also check out: Bath on Ice, the festive ice rink that runs from 15 November to 5 January, and Glow in the Dark mini golf; the Christmas Trail at Prior Park Landscape Garden during December; and Shoppers’ Carols at Bath Abbey on various dates throughout the festive season.

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Bath Christmas Market

3. Southbank Winter Festival, London

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 from 8 November to 5 January 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!

Also check out: The fantastic performances available at the Southbank Centre, from Christmas concerts and choir performances to a children’s retelling of Black Beauty (14 December – 5 January) and circus entertainment with Circus 1903 (19 December – 5 January).

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Southbank Winter Market

4. Manchester Christmas Markets, north-west England

Manchester German Christmas Markets at Albert Square Manchester Town Hall. Manchester Christmas Market

The 20th instalment of the Manchester Christmas Markets will take over locations across the city from mid-November to 22 December, 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 (6 December – 3 January); 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 (8 November – 5 January).

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Manchester Christmas Markets

5. Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market, south England

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. From 21 November to 22 December more than 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 (21 November – 2 January) and marvel at the glittering Christmas tree in its centre; or visit the Ginchester Christmas Market (7 December), a celebration of the region’s diverse spirits including local gin, whisky, vodka and rum.

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Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market

6. Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland

Set against the backdrop of one of the Northern Irish capital’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall, the Belfast Christmas Market (16 November – 22 December) 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.

Also check out: A Christmas Carol at arts and culture hub The Mac (27 November – 5 January), and Christmas Wonderland at outdoor adventure centre The Jungle.

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Belfast Christmas Market

7. Cardiff Christmas Market, south Wales

Set across five streets of Cardiff’s pedestrianised city centre, Cardiff’s Christmas Market will be in full swing from mid-November to 23 December, 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.

Also check out: Santa Tours at the Principality Stadium (4 – 24 December) or choose from various Christmas shows at St David’s Hall throughout December.

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Cardiff Christmas Market

8. Leeds Christkindlemarkt, north England

Millennium Square in Leeds is transformed for the city’s annual Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market from 8 November to 21 December, with the addition of more than 40 traditionally decorated wooden chalets. Browse through hand-crafted jewellery 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 (21 December); and the Leeds Playhouse festive production of The Night Before Christmas (30 November – 28 December).

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Leeds Christkindelmarkt

9. The Victorian Christmas Festival at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, south England

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. From 29 November to 1 December 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 (7 and 13 December); Meet Father Christmas at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum (14 December) and enjoy lashings of festive fun during the That’ll Be The Day Christmas Show at Kings Theatre (18 December).

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The Victorian Christmas Festival

10. Edinburgh Christmas Markets, Scotland

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 from mid-November until early January as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas, a six-week programme of entertainment in the city centre. 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 (28 November – 4 January).

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Edinburgh Christmas Markets

11. Winter Wonderland, London

Transforming one of London’s spectacular parks, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland offers a festive paradise in the heart of the city from 21 November to 5 January. Home to the world’s tallest transportable observation wheel, a Magical Ice Kingdom and an array of comedic acts at its own Comedy Club, in addition to Britain’s largest open air ice rink and plenty of bars and food stalls, there’s something for all the family to enjoy. Enjoy jaw-dropping circus acts and don’t miss the arrival of Paddington on Ice, a stunning show combining cutting-edge choreography, toe-tapping music and impressive costumes that is being performed in the UK for the first time!

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.

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Winter Wonderland
16 Oct 2019(last updated)