Bath Christmas market (Shutterstock)
List 04 September

Weekend wonderlands: 10 of the UK's best Christmas markets

Stock up on the twinkliest trinkets, slurp steaming glühwein, and swish your way across festive ice rinks: these are the best Christmas markets in Britain, to brighten up even the gloomiest winter weekend.

1: Bath Christmas Market

Bath Christmas market and Abbey at night (Dreamstime)

Bath Christmas market and Abbey at night (Dreamstime)

Voted the UK’s favourite Christmas market in 2017, it’s easy to see why people love getting into the festive spirit in Bath. Against the backdrop of the city's Roman baths and magnificent 16th-century abbey, over 200 twinkling chalets line the Georgian streets. These little grottos hold many beautiful gifts, from handmade jewellery and cosy hand-knitted socks to tasty gingerbread and cheeses. There really is something for everyone.

For a bustling, atmospheric feel, look around the traditional wooden stalls during lunchtimes and weekends. For a slower, less crowded meander, visit in the mornings or on weekday evenings. Whenever you decide to go, you’ll be delighted by the choirs, carollers and musicians floating their festive tunes across the market.

Christmas cheer runs from: 22 November–9 December 2018

2: Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market

People skating outside Winchester Cathedral (Dreamstime)

People skating outside Winchester Cathedral (Dreamstime)

Located in Winchester Cathedral’s historic Inner Close and surrounded by an open-air ice rink, Winchester's German-inspired Christmas market attracts over 350,000 visitors a year. With traders selling stollen and mulled wine, delicate glass-work and painted textiles, it's easy to see why. Though the market has a German theme, British craftsmen are strongly represented.

For a particularly magical experience, visit on 30 November 2018 to see the beautiful and creative hand-crafted lanterns that will be paraded from the Cathedral to the Outer Close. The parade will end with a fireworks display, adding extra sparkle to your day out. 

Christmas cheer runs from: 17 November–20 December 2018

Fancy visiting a festive market in Germany itself? Check out our list of the best Christmas markets in Germany...

3: Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market

The Big Wheel at Birmingham's Frankfurt  Christmas Market (Dreamstime)

The Big Wheel at Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market (Dreamstime)

Birmingham’s internationally-renowned Christmas market is inspired by its twin town of Frankfurt. Banish the winter chill with a mug of warming glühwein and browse the stalls selling wooden toys and Christmas decorations. There are plenty of Bavarian treats on offer too, from bratwurst to brezel.

This bustling market is the biggest outside of Germany and Austria. The twinkling stalls on Victoria Square and New Street will keep you happily occupied for hours – and if you need a break from shopping, why not view Birmingham from above in the Big Wheel or have a skate around Centenary Square’s ice rink?

Christmas cheer runs from: 15 November–23 December 2018

4: Glasgow Christmas Market

Christmas lights and fairground attractions at Glasgow Christmas market (Dreamtime)

Christmas lights and fairground attractions at Glasgow Christmas market (Dreamtime)

With gifts from as far afield as Kenya and Ecuador, Glasgow's market is a great place to track down stocking fillers with a difference. Painted Russian dolls, Italian nougat, and woollen jumpers from Lapland are also among the highlights. A Bavarian beer house is a further draw. So too is the Glühwein House run by Markus Kochems of the Mosel valley, one of the world's top wine producers.

Christmas cheer runs from: Date not released yet

5: Belfast Christmas Market

Belfast City Hall and Christmas market (Dreamstime)

Belfast City Hall and Christmas market (Dreamstime)

Situated in the beautiful grounds of Belfast City Hall, this market brings yet more exotic colour to your Christmas shopping. Here you can find interesting gifts from all around the world, and sample exotic meats such as alligator, kangaroo and wild boar. Don’t forget to visit the local traders, too.

If you get a bit nippy, escape to Lavery’s traditional Irish bar, listen to the live music, and let a warming glass of glühwein lift your spirits.

Christmas cheer runs from: 17 November–22 December 2018

6: Caerphilly Christmas Market

Aerial view of Caerphilly Castle Christmas Market (Visit Caerphilly)

Aerial view of Caerphilly Castle Christmas Market (Visit Caerphilly)

Why not celebrate Christmas like a king in Caerphilly Castle? This one-weekend event has a distinctly Medieval slant, allowing you to experience a 13th-century-style festive knees-up.

This market is small, but is stuffed with quirky and interesting stocking fillers. Over 100 stalls offer up a tasty selection of chocolates, cheeses and gins, as well as Christmas decorations, crafts, jewellery and gifts.

With funfairs for tots, mulled wine tents with live music, and choirs and entertainers galore, this really is an event that has something for everyone.

Christmas cheer runs from: 8 December–9 December 2018

7: Leeds Castle Christmas Market, Kent

Aerial view of the Christmas market at Leeds Castle, Kent (Leeds Castle)

Aerial view of the Christmas market at Leeds Castle, Kent (Leeds Castle)

Festive and fortified in equal measure, this Christmas market is held on the Cedar Lawn overlooking the 12th-century Leeds Castle in Kent. This beautiful setting provides the perfect stomping ground in which to browse seasonal gifts, tree decorations, and specialist food and drink. And if you tire of the stalls, the castle is a delight to wander around.

Prepare to be enchanted by the reindeer, birds of prey display, and traditional funfair rides. 

Christmas cheer runs from: 24–25 November, 1–2 December, 8–9 December, 15–16 December 2018

8: Christkindelmarkt, Leeds

A view over the tops of the stalls at Christkindelmarkt, Leeds (Sarah Zagni)

A view over the tops of the stalls at Christkindelmarkt, Leeds (Sarah Zagni)

The city transforms its Millennium Square into a majestic winter village every year, with over 40 traditional chalets displaying gifts from authentic German traders. Add some sparkle to your stocking at the jewellery stands, or fill your boots with bratwurst, goulash and schnitzels.

Don't miss the Alp Chalet: this atmospheric centrepiece of the market offers a real treat of traditional food and drink, as well as fabulous evening entertainment.

Christmas cheer runs from: 9th November–22nd December 2018

9: Manchester Christmas Market

A stall at Manchester Christmas Market (Dreamstime)

A stall at Manchester Christmas Market (Dreamstime)

Stay up north for further festive fun in the city of Manchester, with the main market hub situated in Albert Square, twinkling beneath the town hall. Follow the trail of market stalls through the city centre to find little Christmas gems – including amber jewellery, Belgian chocolate and French soaps. This was the most Instagrammed Christmas market in the UK in 2017, so you're guaranteed to find plenty of festive photo-ops too.

Christmas cheer runs from: 9 November–22 December 2018

10: Southbank Centre Winter Festival, London

South Bank's Christmas market, London (Dreamstime)

South Bank's Christmas market, London (Dreamstime)

The Southbank Centre is fantastic at any time of the year, but is particularly glorious in the lead up to Christmas. This Nordic-inspired market offers a line of wooden stalls by the river bank, with views of the twinkling Thames and glowing London Eye. You’ll find a plethora of quirky Christmas crafts, and lots of fresh mince pies and spiced cider.

To round off your day, catch a Christmas concert, traditional choir performance, or a seasonal community show at the Southbank Centre. And there are loads of fun-filled family activities to keep little ones entertained too. 

Christmas cheer runs from: 8 December–6 January 2018