The Best Christmas Markets to Visit in the UK this Year

There are more Christmas markets than ever this year, with towns and cities up and down the country offering opportunities to shop, eat and soak up lots of yuletide spirit.  From modern, neon-lit spectacles like London's Winter Wonderland to quaint ancient-feeling markets in cathedral cloisters and the cobbled streets of some of our oldest cities.  But with all these different events, which are the best Christmas markets to visit this year?


Bath

With an exquisite backdrop of Georgian streets, this award-winning market is the perfect place for a romantic festive escape or trip with your friends.  The après-ski is enough to rival many a ski resort, or if you are travelling with the family there is plenty for the kids, including a great ice rink, in this Christmas card-perfect city.  The air imbued by cinnamon is complemented by the sound of choirs and carollers, while local businesses ply their unique wares.

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Belfast

With local traders offering an array of festive goods including beautiful decorations and hand-painted pottery, Belfast's market is a real Christmas shopping destination.  Set in the beautiful grounds of the City Hall, the market offers excellent food, live music and a visit from Father Christmas for the little ones.

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Birmingham

Twinned with the German city of Frankfurt, Birmingham didn't have to look far for its own Christmas inspiration and this internationally-renowned market is considered one of the best in the UK.  Grab plenty of delicious foodie treats like German pretzels, schnitzel and roasted almonds as you shop for the perfect gifts for everyone on your list.

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Bournemouth

Not the prettiest of town centres, but Bournemouth's Christmas market offers everything you need, from wooden toys to roasted chestnuts.  Wait till dusk to visit the real highlight, Christmas Tree Wonderland.  This spectacular illuminated Christmas tree trail leads from the Alpine Market, through the Victoria Gardens with their ice rink, down to the sea.  A real treat for all the family.

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Cardiff

Cardiff's Christmas market fills the city's pedestrian area with nearly 200 stalls lining the streets.  The market specialises in wonderful handmade products, with 90% of the sellers being small Welsh businesses.  The perfect place to snap up quirky stocking fillers and unusual gifts.  Snack on hot welsh cakes as you browse.

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Chichester

Our local town offers a lovely market amongst the cobbles, with live nativity and plenty of festive spirit.  It's a great place to shop any time of year, being compact but full of chain and independent shops.  Cover everyone on your list in just one day, leaving more time to enjoy the festive spirit and all the other aspects of Christmas.

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Edinburgh

Offering several markets, Scotland's capital has European, traditionally Scottish and child-friendly options.  The European Christmas Market at Princes Street Gardens in the heart of the city offers a German-style Christmas full of yuletide spirit, traditional stalls and European culinary delights.  But seek out the more traditional Scottish market and even the special children’s markets for something different.

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Exeter

Held in the centre of the city on Cathedral Green, this smaller market has just 50 stalls.  But there is plenty more to explore in the city centre, with plenty of quirky shops to explore.  In the market itself you'll find a great selection of local food and produce as well as all the usual Christmas market essentials.

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Glasgow

Taking place in central George Square and St Enoch Square, Glasgow's Christmas markets welcome sellers from across the globe.  With eclectic gifts from Kenya, Ecuador, Germany and Russia, you will go home with plenty of wonderful gifts and stocking fillers.  Relax with a Glühwein or a Bavarian beer, then stock up on Italian nougat, painted Russian dolls and tasty treats.  Plenty of live entertainment and family-friendly fairground rides will keep everyone happy too.

Stay in the heart of George Square

Leeds

The city transforms its Millennium Square into the magnificent Christkindelmarkt every year.  With more than 40 traditional chalets offering authentic German gifts from European sellers, a twinkly Christmas carousel and plenty of festive family fun, it's a agreat day outt for all the family.  Gifts on display include jewellery and handcrafted toys, with plenty of festive fare, drink and entertainment to while away your time in this picturesque winter village.

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London

The immense Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is fantastic, particularly for all the entertainment for kids (Peter Pan on Ice and the Teletubbies Christmas Show are among the highlights this year).  There is so much more to do, Christmas in London is a delight.  Don't overlook other attractions such as the Southbank Winter Festival on the other side of the Thames, the Christmas market in Leicester Square, Covent Garden (below) and, new for this year, the historic Charterhouse.  Christmas is the perfect time to take a trip to the capital.

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Manchester

Manchester is home to several Christmas markets throughout the city, with more than 300 stalls to discover offering a vast array of festive delights.  The largest number are in Albert Square, twinkling beneath the town hall, but you'll find stalls throughout the city centre.  With French soaps, Beelgian chocolate, Hungarian goulash, Dutch pancakes and much more there is a real European flavour.  Gifts range from clothing and accessories, including amber jewellery, to food, crafts and toys.  Definitely something for everyone.

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National Trust

Several National Trust properties are hosting their own Christmas markets during November and December, including Tattershall Castle, Llanerchaeron, Dudmaston and Castle Ward.

Click here to find the nearest one to you

Nottingham

Another of our smaller cities, Nottingham offers the picture-perfect Patching Christmas Market.  With a plethora of gorgeous hand-made gifts, Narnia-themed bars, a huge food hall, ice rink and rides, this is a lovely family market.  Let the kids loose on the helter skelter while you browse the craft stalls mulled wine in hand.

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Padstow

Now firmly on the foodie map, this Cornish town offers a food, drink and craft market with more than 100 West Country producers showcasing their wares.  Expect award-winning ales and gins, artisan cakes and breads, local cheeses and preserves, and a range of unusual gifts.  Well worth the trip for your Christmas larder or gifts for foodie friends.

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Winchester

Located in the inner close of the Cathedral, this German-inspired market is full of atmosphere and the perfect place to stock up on stollen, delicate glassware including baubles, and printed textiles.  The parade and fireworks on Thursday 29th November are a real highlight, but a visit to this top European market, now in its 12th year, at any time is highly recommended.

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York

You'll feel as though you've stepped into a traditional Dickensian Christmas card in this Christmassy city.  The St Nicholas Fair is a quintessentially British, magical Christmas market offering local produce, carol singers and Victorian style stalls.  Perfect for getting everyone in the Christmas spirit.

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Comments

  1. I normally try to make it to Lincoln Christmas Market, but might try Nottingham now!

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  2. Thanks for these, we went to Leeds last year and really enjoyed it.

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  3. These sound brilliant, I especially like the sound of Birmingham and Cardiff's.

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  4. Thanks for the review. I can recommend Bath for the sheer number of craftspeople and retailers to choose from but it does get really busy sometimes.

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  5. We've always wanted to go to the York one - must make an effort one year!

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