When the festive season is around the corner, it's time to explore the enchanting world of Christmas markets across the United Kingdom. In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you through a tour of the most captivating Christmas markets in the UK that you absolutely must not miss. From Exeter to Edinburgh, we'll uncover the magic, the traditions, and the attractions that make these markets the best in the country.
Edinburgh's Christmas Extravaganza
The heart of Edinburgh's Christmas celebrations lies in its enchanting Christmas Market, nestled within the East Princes Street Gardens. Set against the iconic backdrop of the Edinburgh Castle, this market boasts around 70 stalls filled with an array of unique, handcrafted gifts and festive treats. From locally crafted treasures to international trinkets, the market is a treasure trove for holiday shoppers. Visitors can expect to find a plethora of beautiful and bespoke items to make their festive season extra special. Don't forget to experience the thrill of the Helter Skelter and the grand Big Wheel located at the top of East Princes Street Garden.
Magic of West Princes Street Garden
Edinburgh's Christmas Market doesn't stop there; it transforms West Princes Street Garden into a winter wonderland during the festive season. Visitors can immerse themselves in the enchanting atmosphere of Christmas, complete with a Funfair, delicious treats, and festive illuminations. The Ross Bandstand, nestled within the serene confines of West Princes Street Gardens, becomes a hub for a vibrant program of community-focused and family-friendly live events throughout the festive season.
Skating on Ice
For those seeking festive fun, the ice rink in George Street offers a magical experience for all ages. Glide under the stars, surrounded by twinkling lights and the buzz of the city, creating unforgettable memories against a backdrop of historic architecture.
Dates and Timings
This year's Edinburgh Christmas celebrations kick off on the 18th of November and continue through until the 23rd of December 2023. While entrance to the Christmas Market is free, specific attractions like the ice rink and Big Wheel may have a charge.
London's Magical Christmas Markets
London, the bustling metropolis, takes the festive season to the next level with its magical Christmas markets. From the world-famous Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park to the charming Southbank Centre Winter Market, the capital city has something for everyone. Sip on hot chocolate, browse through handcrafted goods, and take a spin on the ice rink while immersing yourself in the festive atmosphere.
Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market
If you're searching for a festive experience that captures the true spirit of Christmas, look no further than Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market. This enchanting market, located in the heart of Birmingham, is a seasonal treasure trove of traditions, flavours, and merriment.
With a rich history dating back over a decade, it's the largest German Christmas Market outside of Germany and Austria, and a symbol of the city's multicultural charm. Step into a winter wonderland as Birmingham's Victoria Square and New Street are transformed into a picturesque scene adorned with twinkling lights, beautifully decorated stalls, and the delightful aroma of festive treats. The market's charming setting provides a perfect backdrop for memorable moments.
A World of Shopping Delights
Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market boasts stalls brimming with unique handcrafted gifts and ornaments. Whether you're hunting for exquisite baubles or one-of-a-kind presents, the market has something for everyone.
Food lovers are in for a treat. From sizzling bratwurst to mouthwatering pretzels and traditional stollen, the market offers a delectable journey into German cuisine. Be sure to sample the famous Glühwein, a warm mulled wine that will keep you toasty as you explore.
Dates and Practical Information
Opening Dates: This year, the market opens from the 2nd of November and runs until the 24th of December, giving you plenty of time to immerse yourself in the festive spirit.
Opening Hours: The market is generally open from morning till evening, making it easy to fit into your holiday plans.
Location: You can find Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market at Victoria Square and New Street, right in the city centre.
York Christmas Festival
York, a city steeped in history and tradition, takes its Christmas celebrations to a whole new level. The perplexity of its charm lies in the harmonious blend of ancient traditions and modern festivities.
St Nicholas Fair
St Nicholas Fair, located in the heart of York, is one of the UK's most iconic Christmas markets. With over 100 stalls selling a diverse range of gifts, crafts, and delectable treats, it's the perfect place to find unique presents for your loved ones. As the sun sets, the market is illuminated with fairy lights, casting a warm and inviting glow over the shoppers. The Christmas market, nestled in the heart of the city, is a labyrinth of stalls offering unique gifts and delectable treats. The bursting with colours, scents, and sounds is a sensory delight, filling you with the joy of the season.
Explore the cobbled streets of the Shambles, where timber-framed buildings create a truly Dickensian atmosphere. The perplexity of this historical setting is that it transports you back in time, making you feel like you've stepped into a Charles Dickens novel.
Indulge in traditional Yorkshire delicacies at the Christmas market, where the perplexity of flavours will tantalise your taste buds.
Dates and Location
York Christmas Market 2023 is set to take place from November 16th to December 22nd. It's conveniently located in the heart of York at Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square. Don't miss out on this wonderful festive event.
Manchester's Christmas Markets - An Eclectic Delight
Manchester's Christmas markets have a rich history dating back to 1998 when the first event was held. This winter extravaganza quickly grew in popularity, making it a beloved annual tradition. The city's strong sense of community and diverse culture add to the unique character of these markets. This year the Christmas Market runs from 10 November - 21 December.
A Plethora of Market Locations
One of the standout features of Manchester's Christmas markets is their impressive diversity and the multitude of locations. Each market has its own distinct personality and offerings.
Winter Gardens at Piccadilly Gardens
Winter Gardens will once again transform Piccadilly Gardens into a magical wonderland. This site features a mix of craft and gift stalls, delectable food and drinks, and the iconic Manchester Christmas Windmill, standing at an impressive 4 metres high. With daily live entertainment, twinkling lights, and a cosy seating area, it's the perfect spot to soak in the holiday spirit.
St Ann's Square and Exchange Street
St Ann's Square, the oldest Christmas market site in Manchester, holds a special place in the city's heart. Here, you can explore the Manchester Shop, savour continental cheeses, and admire unique sculptures. Don't forget to try authentic paella, bratwurst, or the famous salt and pepper chicken from Yard and Coop. You can also find a delightful undercover bar for a warm drink and a cozy atmosphere.
If you're looking to wrap up your Christmas shopping, Market Street is the place to be. With over 40 stalls offering extraordinary gift ideas, including tweed hats, spiced rum, Christmas decorations, and more, you'll find the perfect presents.
New Cathedral Street
New Cathedral Street is where you'll discover high-end gifts and delectable treats. Handmade candles, ceramics, local spirits, and thoughtful keepsakes make it a prime spot for Christmas shopping. When hunger strikes, indulge in a cold beer and currywurst from The Witch House, a hearty burrito from Mango Rays, or a cheesy 'Parmo' from local legends, Parmageddon.
As one of the largest Christmas market sites in the city centre, Exchange Square promises a plethora of attractions. Warm up at The Mill Exchange with their Mancunian mulled wine, made on-site, while admiring Manchester artwork. And, of course, don't miss the legendary Yorkshire pudding wrap from Porky Pig and a variety of culinary delights, from birria bowls to mini pancakes and fresh fudge. You'll also find clothing, soaps, boutique babywear, local crafts, and handmade gifts.
King Street caters to both foodies and shoppers with a wide range of offerings. From authentic Italian deli delights to crafts like French soap, personalized tree decorations, handmade wooden furniture, and beautifully illustrated bottles from local distillery Salford Rum, there's something for everyone. Plus, you can enjoy your Mediterranean-inspired meal in the special seated area outside El Gato Negro.
Bath Christmas Market - A Regal Affair
Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage City, hosts a Christmas market that exudes regal charm. With the stunning backdrop of Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, the market offers a unique shopping experience. Peruse the wooden chalets filled with local crafts, enjoy festive street food, and soak in the magical atmosphere of this historical city.
Bath Christmas Market isn't just about shopping and dining; it's also a hub of entertainment. Throughout the festive season, various street performers and musicians grace the market, filling the air with cheerful melodies and creating a captivating atmosphere for all.
As the sun sets over Bath, the market comes to life with a breathtaking display of Christmas lights and decorations. The city's historic streets are bedecked with twinkling fairy lights, making it a truly magical sight.
The Enchanting Bath Abbey
One of the most iconic features of the Bath Christmas Market is its location adjacent to the stunning Bath Abbey. The abbey's ethereal presence adds to the market's charm and beauty, creating an ambiance that is both unique and mesmerising.
Planning Your Visit
For those planning to visit the Bath Christmas Market, it's essential to plan your trip carefully. This year the market opens from 23rd November until 10th December 2023. Accommodations in Bath tend to fill up quickly during this period, so booking well in advance is advisable.
Chester Christmas Market - A Festive Wonderland
Chester's Christmas Market, located outside Chester Town Hall on Northgate Street, is a timeless tradition that brings warmth and joy to the city every year. It's a place where the spirit of Christmas is beautifully woven into every aspect, from the twinkling lights to the enticing aromas of festive treats.
Diverse Shopping Delights
Visitors to Chester's Christmas Market can indulge in a delightful shopping experience, exploring charming wooden chalets adorned with an array of unique gifts, artisan crafts, and seasonal decorations. Whether you're searching for handcrafted ornaments or bespoke jewellery, the market's diverse stalls offer an array of distinctive treasures.
The Iconic Christmas Tree
At the heart of the market, a towering Christmas tree takes pride of place, radiating the spirit of Christmas throughout the city. It's the perfect spot to take photographs and share in the festive atmosphere.
Dates and Opening Hours
Chester's Christmas Market this year opens from Friday, the 17th of November until Thursday, the 21st of December. The opening hours are Sunday to Wednesday from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm, and Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 10.30 am to 8 pm.
Gloucester Quays Winter Markets - Uncover the Charm
As winter casts its enchanting spell, Gloucester Quays transforms into a winter wonderland that beckons visitors from near and far. The Winter Markets are a true testament to the magic of the season, offering an unforgettable experience filled with warmth and joy.
Venture into the market stalls, each adorned with a dazzling array of handcrafted gifts, festive decorations, and seasonal treats. From hand-knit scarves to artisanal ornaments, the market is a treasure trove for those seeking unique and thoughtful presents.
Lace up your skates and take to the ice in the heart of Gloucester. The open-air ice rink (from the 24th of November) provides a unique opportunity to enjoy the thrill of ice skating while surrounded by the festive charm of the Winter Markets.
Dates and Timings
Gloucester Quays Winter Market is open on weekends. Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm on the following dates:
4th – 5th November, 11th -12th November, 18th – 19th November, 25th – 26th November, 2nd – 3rd December, 9th – 10th December, 16th – 17th December.
Entry to the Winter Markets is often free, but there may be charges for specific attractions like ice skating. Be sure to check their website for the most up-to-date pricing and ticket information.
Country Living Christmas Fairs
Hosted by Country Living magazine, the Country Living Christmas Fairs are a cultural ode to rural life in the UK. There are 3 locations across the country:
- London: 8-11 November 2023 at the Business Design Centre in Islington
- Glasgow: 16-19 November 2023 at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow
- Harrogate: 30 November – 3 December 2023 at the Harrogate Convention Centre
What to Expect
One of the highlights of the Country Living Fair is the opportunity to explore handmade treasures from UK artisans. The fair showcases a wide range of unique, handcrafted items, from home decor to clothing and jewellery. It's the perfect place to discover one-of-a-kind gifts and decorations, all made with love and skill..
Food enthusiasts will be delighted by the diverse selection of regional and international cuisine available at the fair. You can sample traditional British dishes and global flavours, making the fair a gastronomic adventure. Whether you're a fan of hearty pies, delicate pastries, or exotic dishes, the Country Living Fair has something for every palate.
Workshops and Demonstrations
For those eager to learn new skills or refine their existing ones, the fair offers a variety of workshops and demonstrations. From crafting and gardening to culinary techniques, there's a workshop for everyone. Experts will guide you through hands-on experiences, helping you uncover your creative side.
How to Get Tickets
To attend the Country Living Fair, you can purchase tickets online through their official website. Early booking is recommended, as this event tends to attract a large audience. Make sure to check the website for any updates on ticket availability and pricing.
Belfast Christmas Market
Belfast's Christmas Market is a magnificent ode to the festive season, nestled at the heart of this vibrant city. This year, the market's enchanting doors swing open from the 18th of November 2023 to the 22nd of December 2023, right at the Belfast City Hall Grounds. Prepare to be immersed in the warm embrace of the season, as Belfast transforms into a wonderland for all to revel in.
An Authentic European Atmosphere
The Belfast Christmas Market masterfully recreates the charm of a traditional European Christmas market. Picture wooden chalets adorned with twinkling lights, exuding an inviting atmosphere reminiscent of the bustling markets of Germany and Austria.
For the discerning food lovers, this market is a culinary haven. Feast your senses on traditional German sausages, decadent Belgian chocolates, and the warm, comforting embrace of mulled wine. These are just a few of the delectable treats that await you.
Liverpool's Christmas Market - Waterfront Magic
Nestled in the heart of Liverpool, this market magically transforms the city into a winter wonderland. From the 18th of November to the 24th of December 2023, you'll find it gracing St George's Plateau and William Brown Street. This picturesque setting has made it a sought-after destination for both tourists and locals.
Here, you can explore a diverse array of unique, handcrafted gifts, perfect for finding that special something for your loved ones. From exquisite jewellery to bespoke home decor, there's something to enchant everyone.Attractions
The big wheel, snow slide, and Santa Land rides are back this year to elevate your Liverpool Christmas Market experience. These attractions provide the perfect backdrop for those memorable holiday snapshots.
Newcastle Christmas Market
Step into a winter wonderland in the heart of Newcastle. The Newcastle Christmas Market 2023 is a magical fusion of time-honoured traditions and contemporary celebrations. It offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages, setting up shop on Grey Street, Grainger Street, and Old Eldon Square. This year, a majestic 10-metre illuminated Christmas tree graces the square, adding a touch more magic.
The market is a treasure trove of artisanal goods, from handcrafted ornaments to unique clothing and locally produced delicacies. Here, you'll discover the perfect gifts for your loved ones, supporting local businesses and finding one-of-a-kind presents.
Immerse yourself in live music, captivating performances, and the sweet sounds of carol singers, who craft a joyful and festive atmosphere throughout the market. Let classic carols and contemporary tunes fill your heart with the holiday spirit.
Opening Dates and Times
The Newcastle Christmas Market welcomes visitors from the 18th of November to the 23rd of December. It opens its doors from 10 am to 8 pm, Monday to Saturday, and from 10 am to 5 pm on Sundays. Entry is free, so you can soak in the festive ambiance without any cost. Simply turn up and relish in the holiday cheer.
Unraveling the Magic of Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market
The backdrop of the stunning cathedral, dating back to the 12th century, infuses the festive atmosphere with a touch of history and grandeur. Visitors can bask in the magical fusion of heritage and holiday spirit.
The Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market goes beyond shopping and dining. Throughout the festive season, you can revel in a lineup of live performances and gain access to the Light of Hope Star installation by artist Peter Walker, nestled within the Cathedral.
Dates and Timings
This year, the Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market opens its doors on the 17th of November and continues to delight visitors until the 17th of December, perfectly timed for the holiday season. The market operates from morning till late evening, allowing you to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere at your leisure.