The UK’s best Christmas markets, from Edinburgh to Manchester

Find the perfect gifts and sample plenty of delicious street food at Britain's Christmas markets.  (Getty Pictures)

Find the perfect gifts and sample plenty of delicious street food at Britain’s Christmas markets. (Getty Pictures)

Who doesn’t love a Christmas market? With an endless supply of hot chocolate and mulled wine to warm us up and the soothing sounds of carol singers, Christmas markets bring festive cheer as our nights grow longer and longer.

From Edinburgh and Manchester to Winchester and York (and last-minute saved Southampton), these are the UK Christmas markets you won’t want to miss this winter – and the dates on your diary.

London South Bank

December 3 to December 26

People walking and shopping in the authentically decorated wooden chalets on the Christmas Market Promenade in London's Southbank Centre.

The Christmas Market promenade at the Southbank Centre. (Getty Pictures)

While the Southbank Center’s Winter Festival lasts a little longer, from November 3 to January 8, filled with performances, art and exhibitions, a New Year’s Eve party and more, its traditional winter on Queen’s Walk holds its last day on Boxing Day.

What could be better than walking along the Thames, and feeling in the heart of the city, while soaking up the authentic alpine chalets of the food stalls under the Christmas lights?

Southampton

November 17 to December 24

People stroll among the individually designed alpine chalets at Southampton Christmas Market.  (Getty Pictures)

Individually designed alpine chalets at Southampton Christmas Market. (Getty Pictures)

Good news, after only three weeks since it was announced that the German market would not be returning to Southampton, it is now back on track, and is due to open in November. In a Christmas miracle, with the withdrawal of the last operator, the market was saved at the last minute by another company, S&D Leisure.

“It means small businesses that were hoping to trade can still do so, and we can still offer an exciting mix of entertainment, food, drink and shopping to visitors and local residents,” Councilor Satvir Kaur said. .

This means you can still expect a traditional horse carousel and other kiddie rides, bars offering festive Glühwein (mulled wine), hot chocolates and hot cider, as well as irresistible pancakes, German sausages, cheeses and appetizers. The “party atmosphere” will resume from Thursday to Sunday in the covered area of ​​the main bar.

Edinburgh

November 19 to January 3

A view of Edinburgh's illuminated Christmas attractions in Princes Street Gardens, with the Scott Monument and North Bridge on the horizon.

Edinburgh’s illuminated Christmas attractions in Princes Street Gardens, with Scott Monument and North Bridge on the horizon. (Getty Pictures)

Christmas time in Edinburgh is a truly magical experience. The majority of the markets are spread throughout the city center which means you can easily visit them all on foot. East Princes Street Gardens Market is the largest of them all, located right in the heart of the city. It is surrounded by iconic landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument and Calton Hill – a stunning backdrop to an already magnificent setting.

Expect large crowds as the market gets bigger every year. But expect plenty of Christmas items too, with stalls selling everything from painted nutcrackers to Glayva, a local Scotch whiskey whose name translates to “very good” in Gaelic.

If you’re bringing kids, there’s no shortage of attractions for them. They will have thrills with the Christmas Ferris wheel, the Star Flyer and Santa Land.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the Edinburgh Christmas Market 2022

Manchester

November 10 to December 22

The Manchester Christmas Market is known for dazzling visitors with hundreds of wooden huts in the city centre. The market is made up of eight markets and more than 300 stalls, brought together for a festive feast.

Explore St Ann’s Square and the food stalls of King Street for delicious treats before heading to the ‘Winter Gardens’ – the main market hub – located on Piccadilly Gardens.

birmingham

November 5 to December 23

People at the Birmingham Christmas Market in Frankfurt, the largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria.

If you want a larger than life Christmas market, head to Birmingham. (Getty Pictures)

The Birmingham Christmas Market in Frankfurt will return to Victoria Square in early November. The Christmas market is the largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria – and it’s just as lively.

From bratwurst and pretzels to glühwein and German beer, expect traditional products that will tantalize your taste buds.

Don’t miss Chris Moose, the Christmas carol moose, outside Birmingham Council House in the heart of the city.

lincoln

December 1 to December 4

Lincoln hosted the first ever traditional German Christmas market in the UK, due to its friendship and ‘twinning’ (when towns or cities in different countries are paired together to encourage cultural, business and human relations) with Neustadt in Germany.

It has grown from 11 stalls in Castle Square in 1982 to more than 200 spread across the cobbled streets and cultural quarter. And with the connection to the German city still strong, you can expect the most authentic crafts, food, drink and festive gifts to be brought to you.

kingston

November 10 to December 24

The countdown is on for Kingston Upon Thames’ Christmas stalls and entertainment to return to Ancient Market Place, which sells fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers and more for the rest of the year.

Along with soaking up lights, food and drink (they’re currently on the hunt for greengrocers and vegans as well), magic stocking fillers available and a carousel for the kids, you can enjoy a list of artists live at the Pyramid Stage bar.

Exeter

November 18 to December 18

With over 100 sparkling festive chalets, themed bars, artisan gifts and local produce, Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market will get you in the festive mood. Devon’s largest Christmas market is inspired by traditional markets in Germany and attracts over 600,000 visitors each year.

Located in Exeter Cathedral Green, the jewel in the crown of the city center and only minutes from the main shopping area, this is the perfect location for anyone looking to organize their Christmas shopping.

Read more: When to put up your Christmas tree and decorations?

Winchester

November 18 to December 22

The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market is said to be one of the best in Europe. Known for its lively atmosphere and idyllic setting, the market is filled with twinkling lights and traditional wooden chalets selling everything from festive gifts to hot mulled wine.

Hear the sound of Christmas carols as they serenade you on the way to the indoor ice rink – although this was closed last year due to the pandemic and the same may happen this year . The Christmas Market food court also has some amazing food, including the British favorite fish and chips and German bratwurst.

Bath

November 24 to December 11

BATH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Christmas shoppers browse the stalls at the traditional Christmas market near the historic Roman Baths and Bath Abbey on December 8, 2015 in Bath, England.  Originating in Germany, Christmas markets have become increasingly popular in UK cities to boost festive sales and visitor numbers.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Stalls at the traditional Christmas market near the historic Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. (Getty Pictures)

This year Bath Christmas Market, one of the largest in the UK, celebrates its 20th anniversary. Over 170 stalls are dotted around the town’s cobbled streets around the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey, making it one of the most scenic spots.

Grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine and listen to the sounds of local marching bands and choirs as you stroll through the chalets and search for the perfect homemade Christmas present. And if you have time left during your stay, treat yourself to a day of relaxation at Thermae Bath Spa, the UK’s only natural thermal spa.

Nottingham

November 15 to December 31

Known locally as Nottingham Winter Wonderland, Nottingham Christmas Market is one of the most popular winter events in the East Midlands. This year the markets will be held in two different locations: the original location in Old Market Square and a new Winter Village in Trinity Square.

There are plenty of activities to do while you are there. See the city from a bird’s eye view from the top of the 32-metre observation wheel in Nottingham’s Old Market or enjoy a cup of hot cider at the après-ski bar. Children can also ride the traditional and colorful Helter Skelter merry-go-round while adults have a drink at the Helter Skelter bar.

Read more: How to have a more affordable Christmas

york

November 17 to December 23

York, Yorkshire, UK – November 23, 2019: Spoon entertainer street vendor with his display of goods for sale at the 2019 Christmas Market. The whole city of York takes part in the annual Christmas Market and this free, unrestricted event attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Spoon entertainer street vendor at York Christmas Market. (Getty Pictures)

Last but not least is York’s Christmas Market – St Nicholas Fair – which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

The infamous chalets line Place du Parlement and Place Saint-Samson with twinkling lights, transforming the streets into a festive atmosphere, with local traders selling handicrafts.

Brand new to York’s Christmas Market this year, The Winter Hütte is a traditional Swiss chalet, which will offer an unforgettable dining experience from one of Yorkshire’s best-known chefs, Michelin-starred Andrew Pern.

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