Christmas fair, Hyde Park, London (Dreamstime)
List Words : Team Wanderlust | 05 December 2019

Weekend wonderlands: 16 of the UK's best Christmas markets

Stock up on twinkly trinkets, slurp steaming glühwein, and swish your way across festive ice rinks, with the best Christmas markets in Britain. Guaranteed to brighten 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 back 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, 151 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: 28 November 2019 to 15 December 2019

More and info and opening hours: Bath Christmas Market

2. Manchester's Albert Square Christmas Market

A stall at Manchester Christmas Market (Dreamstime)

A stall at Manchester Christmas Market (Dreamstime)

Go up north for 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.

Recently lauded as one of Europe's 20 best Christmas markets for 2019, you know you'll be getting the best Christmas market experience in Manchester. It was once voted the UK's most Instagrammed Christmas market, too, so you're guaranteed to find plenty of festive photo op.

If you can't get enough of the Albert Square market, there are countless others dotted all over the city. Cathedral Square, Market Street, Exchange Square and the Corn Exchange are all very central locations with festive markets on offer.

Christmas cheer runs from: 8 November 2019 to 22 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Manchester's Christmas markets

3. 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.

Last year, a particularly magical experience saw beautiful and creative hand-crafted lanterns that will be paraded from the Cathedral to the Outer Close. The parade ended with a fireworks display, adding extra sparkle to the day out. This year, the Lantern Parade takes place on 28 November 2019.

Christmas cheer runs from: 21 November 2019 to 22 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market

4. 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: 7 November 2019 to 23 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham

5. Glasgow's George Square 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 markets are a great place to track down stocking fillers with a difference. There are two, with 50 stalls apiece: George Square Market and St Enoch Square Christmas Market.

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: 9 December 2019 to 31 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Discover both markets at Glasgow Loves Christmas

6. 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: 16 November 2019 to 22 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Belfast Christmas Market

7. 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: 7 December 2019 to 8 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Caerphilly Christmas Market

8. 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: Weekends only from 23 November 2019 to 15 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Leeds Castle Christmas Market

9. 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: 8 November 2019 to 21 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Christkindelmarkt

10. Winter at Southbank Centre, 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 November 2019 to 5 January 2020

More info and opening hours: Southbank Centre Winter Market

11. Edinburgh Christmas Market, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Christmas Market, Edinburgh (Shutterstock)

Edinburgh Christmas Market, Edinburgh (Shutterstock)

The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year in Edinburgh are – and not to exaggerate – complete bliss for festive fans.

In the run up to the annual Hogmanay celebrations that swarm the city centre on New Year's Eve – concerts, merriment and a group singalong to Auld Lang Syne included there are fun fairs and a traditional Christmas market to visit.

Expect German-style wooden stalls taking over East Princes Street Garden until early January, selling the usual fare, plus an array of charming gifts made by local businesses. Enjoy a mulled wine or a steaming hot coffee before heading over to the fair, and taking a ride on the neon-coloured Big Wheel...

Christmas cheer runs from: 16 November 2019 to 4 January 2020

More info and opening hours: Edinburgh Christmas Market

12. Newcastle Christmas Market, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Christmas market on Grey Street, Newcastle (Shutterstock)

Christmas market on Grey Street, Newcastle (Shutterstock)

Locals love the Christmas market – located on Blackett Street and around Greys Monument in 2019 – but Newcastle has yet to emerge as a destination for market-loving day-trippers beyond the north-east.

The market itself is fairly small, but gets everything right: twinkly lights, food stalls galore and 70 independent sellers offering up their finest products. The stalls stay open until Christmas Eve, though food and drink will be for sale until New Year's Eve.

The real benefit of a Christmas market day out in Newcastle is the festive feeling among the friendly locals, and the market's prime position by the architecturally-appealing Grey Street, which leads down towards the Quayside.

For more festive fun in the Toon, you mustn't miss Fenwick's famous Christmas window display at the bottom of the main shopping avenue, Northumberland Street, or pass up a twirl on the Centre for Life ice skating rink, located five or so minutes from Central Station.

Christmas cheer runs from: 16 November 2019 to 31 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Newcastle Gateshead Christmas Market

13. Winter Wonderland Christmas Market, Nottingham

Nottingham Winter Wonderland, Nottingham (Shutterstock)

Nottingham Winter Wonderland, Nottingham (Shutterstock)

Nottingham's Winter Wonderland is proudly the largest Christmas affair in all of the East Midlands, going all out for 2019 with a Christmas market, a festive ice rink, a chilly Ice Bar and regular live entertainment in the city centre.

Focusing on the market: there are 70 stalls in 2019, with a few new faces behind each stall. The city has championed over 20 new, local or independent traders to increase the range of presents for sale.

If the street eats on offer at the market aren't quite filling enough, Winter Wonderland even has its own restaurant, appropriately named Sur La Piste.

Christmas cheer runs from: 15 November 2019 to 31 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Nottingham Winter Wonderland

14. Cardiff Christmas Market, Cardiff

Cardiff Christmas Market, Cardiff (Shutterstock)

Cardiff Christmas Market, Cardiff (Shutterstock)

Wales' capital Cardiff has a lovely Christmas market sprawling through its centre. You'll find wooden stalls decorated in winter-blue fairy lights, selling festive goodies on Hills Street, Working Street, Trinity Street, St John Street, and the Hayes.

It's been running for more than 20 years now, often with the aim of supporting local craftspeople in selling their goods. There are over 200 businesses taking part each year.

Local artists, creators and confectioners fill each chalets to sell their finest produce. There's everything from textiles (blankets, pillows, scarves), decorated glasswork, leather bags and wooden gifts to handmade chocolates, jewellery, bath salts, candles and more. You certainly won't struggle to buy for friends and family here.

Christmas cheer runs from: 14 November 2019 to 23 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Cardiff Christmas Market

15. Blenheim Palace Christmas Market, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace pre-winter, Oxfordshire (Shutterstock)

Blenheim Palace pre-winter, Oxfordshire (Shutterstock)

Unlike many of the markets we've listed, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire's Christmas market ends mid-December, and is a ticketed (but still free) activity. So, you'll want to ensure you've got your ticket before you drop by.

Undeniably, the stunning palace – all dressed up in Christmas lights – is the ultimate backdrop for this Christmas market. It's far more spacious than it's city centre counterparts, but offers a similar selection of gifts and treats: delicious drinks, street food, homemade gifts, leather accessories, unique jewellery, stationery and more.

Since you have to make an effort to drive to Blenheim, note that parking is no longer free after 12pm. Best to arrive early in the morning, around 10 to 11am to avoid a £10 parking fee.

Christmas cheer runs from: Until 15 December 2019

More info and opening hours: Christmas at Blenheim Palace

16. York Christmas Market, York

York Christmas Market, York (Shutterstock)

York Christmas Market, York (Shutterstock)

On Parliament Street in the heart of the city lies York Christmas Market: a classic German-style market selling Christmassy trinkets and delicious treats. And once you've reached the top of the street, there are more stalls to come. In fact, anywhere you trek in York city centre on a weekend in December, you're never far from Christmas cheer.

What sets this market apart is the level of sweetness of the gifts on offer. You can do some serious gift shopping here – no tat allowed. Local breweries, sweet-makers and crafty types fill the stalls with everything from scented candles and quirky puppets to toffee vodka, giant, gooey brownies and rich, flavoured fudge.

Admittedly, the best time to visit York's Christmas market is early in the morning, before the lunchtime rush hits. York's not a huge city and it's a small high street, so can get very crowded quickly. That way, you'll be able to get the most out of each stall. Still well worth a visit, even if it does mean downing your glühwein at 10am...

Christmas cheer runs from: 14 November 2019 to 22 December 2019 

More info and opening hours: York Christmas Market

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