When you think about European Christmas markets, most people would immediately jump straight to the likes of Germany and Switzerland. But did you know that there are also plenty of amazing Christmas Markets right here in the UK too?
Unfortunately, as hard as I’ve tried, I’ve not made my way around to all of the best UK Christmas Markets myself yet. So to create this post, I’ve collaborated with a group of other amazing bloggers to bring you a guide to the best UK Christmas Markets to visit this festive season…
The Best UK Christmas Markets
London’s Winter Wonderland
By Delahaye from Hues of Delahaye
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is London’s largest Christmas market and undoubtedly one of the best Christmas Markets in the UK. It has all the Christmas cheer you could ever want in one place. Winter Wonderland’s Christmas market in late November each year, transforms the tranquil, Hyde Park into a bustling fairground with pleasures for adults and children alike.
This Christmas market will get you as excited as a child on Christmas day, with its large ice skating rink, Zippos Christmas circus, ice sculpting, magical ice kingdom, carousel, run around funhouses and roller-coaster rides. And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy then maybe the endless array of German-style stalls selling sausages, chalets and shops selling items such as jewellery, decoration, and crafts will.
One of the best places to visit in Winter Wonderland, besides the ice skating rink is the Bavarian village. This is where drinks will flow with non-stop EDM music playing until the early hours of the morning.
If you want to get some of the best views of London’s Skyline, then definitely check out the following rides – ‘The Giant Observation Wheel’ and ‘Star Flyer’. You will not be disappointed with the magnificent views of the city.
If you’re going with children. The best time to go is early evening, as the Christmas market gets a lot busier during the night. With large crowds queuing for rides and at food stalls.
Open: Friday 22nd November 2018 to Monday 6th January 2019.
Visiting London at Christmas? Check out this guide to The Best London Christmas Markets and Pop-Ups of 2018.
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market
By Bernadette from A Packed Life
For more than a decade now, there’s been a part of Birmingham’s Christmas celebrations that is forever German. In November each year, a part of Frankfurt makes the journey to the UK’s second city, bearing wurst, gluhwein and traditional crafts and toys. Covering a wide pedestrianised area from New Street to Victoria Square, the market is open now until 23 December.
Set as it is at the heart of the city, it’s difficult for anyone not to be caught up in its charms. Here you’ll find families making a day of it, office workers stopping off to socialise after work, and people looking for something a little different for a Christmas stocking.
You can eat, drink and make merry too. I’m a big fan of the roasted chestnuts, but you can satisfy pretty much any culinary desire you have right there. Mugs of all kinds of hot chocolate will keep you sustained no matter how chilly your visit. You’ll also find an ice rink, the big wheel and a craft market in the city to add to your Christmas cheer.
Open: Thursday 15th November to Sunday 23rd December 2018.
Manchester Christmas Markets
By Lisa from HollyBobs
Over the last few years, Manchester’s markets have grown significantly and are now one of the most popular UK Christmas Markets. On throughout November and December, 300 stalls spiral across the city with a vast array of stalls including gifts, crafts, homeware, clothes and of course plenty of food and drink.
New this year is the Ice Village complete with Santa’s Grotto where there will be a walk-through ice cavern filled with sculptures telling the story of Manchester, as well as a steam train and various Arctic animals. There is also an ice rink and Polar Bar where you can warm up with a mulled wine or hot chocolate. The markets have a mug scheme, with a new design each year. The mugs cost £3 and you can get them refilled at all the stalls selling drinks, saving on plastic and also giving you a great souvenir to take home.
Open: Friday 9th November to Saturday 22nd December 2018.
By Natasha from World Inside My Pocket
Leeds German Christmas Market, Christkindlmarkt, is located in the heart of Leeds at Millennium Square, surrounded by some of the city’s most beautiful and important buildings. Every year from the beginning of November through to the end of December, Millennium square is transformed into a Christmas fairytale wonderland. The market is made up of over 40 traditional German wooden chalets decked with lights and sparkling decorations and selling festive gifts, homemade crafts and toys that you can buy your loved ones for Christmas.
In the centre of the Leeds Christmas Market, you’ll find the Alp chalet, an indoor Bavarian eatery serving a range of food and drinks and showing live music every Sunday. This year, you can also get your little ones in the festive mood by treating them to a buffet breakfast with Santa and a festive treasure hunt around the market (bookable at Millenium Square website).
My favourite stall at the Leeds Christmas Market is the ‘Pommes and Kase Bude’ stall, offering yummy fresh fries but most importantly, loads of cheese specialities including mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers, camembert bites and deep-fried cheddar kebabs! It’s absolute heaven for a cheese-lover like me.
Open: Friday 9th November to Saturday 22nd December 2018.
Lincoln Christmas Market
By Karen from Smart Steps to Australia
I may be biased because I grew up in Lincoln, but to me it is home to the best Christmas market in the UK. We made a one-way move to the opposite side of the world to live in Australia, but the Christmas market is something I really miss about my home city during the festive season.
Lincoln is such a pretty, historic city anyway, but at Christmas it is even more beautiful with Lincoln Cathedral lit up at the top of Steep Hill and the city Christmas lights all around. If you’re fit and healthy and not travelling with young kids or a buggy, the best way to experience the market is to park in town, or come in by train, and walk up Steep Hill to the markets. You’ll pass lots of quaint shops on your way up the cobbled lane. It is quite a walk though – Steep Hill got its name for a reason!
For an easier, more relaxing experience, use the park and ride, as there is no parking around the actual markets and the traffic in the city is chaos on market days. Even if you come on the park and ride, you can still walk down the top park of Steep Hill to see the shops without having to do the steep walk all the way from town.
Although the market runs during the daytimes, I think you need to experience the markets at night with the twinkling lights and the icy cold temperatures that make you eat all of the delicious food to keep warm. It’s not so much about the stalls, but more about the experience of walking around taking in the festive atmosphere, listening to carols and eating roast chestnuts. There is nothing quite like it to get you in the mood for Christmas.
Open: Thursday 6th December to Sunday 9th December.
Exeter Christmas Market
By Sophie from Solo Sophie
Exeter is a beautiful South West English city which is best-known for its great foodie scene, countless ancient streets, an award-winning museum, and ties with the Romans. Indeed, underneath the Cathedral Green, where the Exeter Christmas Market is held, the remains of a vast complex of Roman Baths have been found.
The capital of the county of Devon, during the holiday season the city truly comes to life. Throughout Exeter, you’ll find light displays and trees in abundance, while the Christmas market will be held on the central Cathedral Green.
Once there, you’ll soon discover plenty of food stalls and artisanal gifts for sale. Much of the market’s focus is on local trade and business, meaning that by purchasing goods you’ll often be helping shops from the local community. Throughout the market, local singers and groups are invited to perform, adding further cheer to the festivities!
Open: Thursday 15th November to Sunday 16th December 2018.
Bristol Christmas Market
The Bristol Christmas Market is underway and already attracting big crowds daily. You can find all your favourite treats – mulled wine, beer, sausages, Belgian waffles, raclette, fudge, and more – plus scarves, hats, sweaters, gloves, woodcarvings, tree decorations, and many other gift ideas.
The Jäger Barn Bar is covered and heated and a perfect spot to enjoy some food and hot chocolate. You can try your hand at Bavarian Curling and there is a Christmas Grotto where Father Christmas holds court. Children can visit and ask the old man for that something special.
What makes this market stand out is it is set in the middle of the Cabot Circus, an indoor/outdoor shopping mall complex with dozens of stores in the Bristol City Center. You could finish all your Christmas shopping in one night! Because the market and mall join forces, the lights and decorations are spectacular. There is also mall parking nearby making visiting even easier.
Open: Friday 9th November to Sunday 23rd December 2018.
Edinburgh Christmas Markets
By Jennifer from Luxe Adventure Traveller
Edinburgh holds the title of Festival Capital of the World. That title is taken seriously and the city puts on quite the holiday festival with Edinburgh’s Christmas. More than just your typical Christmas markets, Edinburgh’s Christmas is a whole calendar line-up of holiday-themed shows from classic Christmas carols sung in concert to the risque La Clique Noel.
No matter if you’re 2 or 92, there’s something for everyone with a visit to Santa’s Grotto to delight the little ones to Scottish whisky spiked hot cocoa for the adults.
Shop for Scottish wares at the various Christmas markets, show off your figure eights ice skating and indulge on your favourite Christmas market foods.
Open: Friday 16th November 2018 to Saturday 5th January 2019.
Belfast Christmas Market
By Cazzy from Dream Big, Travel Far
The Belfast Christmas market is fantastic and is located in front of one of Belfast’s most iconic buildings, City Hall. Imagine a Christmas market with food and drinks from all over the world, coupled with Irish charm, beer and music!
Step into the market and head left to begin your journey of delicious delights from over 30 countries. You can feast on a Christmas dinner in a giant Yorkshire pudding, a hog roast, traditional German bratwurst, mouth-watering French Gratin dauphinoise. Or, for the more adventurous, ostrich or kangaroo burger. The Christmas market also has dedicated vegan and vegetarian options, making a brilliant choice for everyone!
Got a sweet tooth? Then it’s time to fill up on delicious crepes, Belgian waffles, glorious baileys hot chocolates, fudge, churros, pies, macaroons and much much more. After you’ve eaten too much, you can browse and buy some beautiful handmade gifts at the many fantastic crafts stalls available.
You can purchase everything from handmade jewellery, beautiful scarves, handmade garden furniture, personalised gifts, Christmas baubles and much more. Afterwards, head to the famous Laverys traditional Irish bar located in the middle of the market for a pint of Guinness and some live Irish music!
Open: Saturday 17th November to Saturday 22nd December 2018.
Glasgow George Square Christmas Market
By Allan from The Practical Saver
If you are into eclectic, one-of-a-kind food and experience this Christmas season, the best place to go is the Christmas Market at the Glasgow specifically the Christmas market at the George Square.
This market features over 50 traders who sell high-quality products and artisan products. Oh, don’t miss the 15-metre Christmas tree that’s the main attraction in this market.
Believe it or not, this place isn’t just for adults but it is also for children.
For the children, they can go down to Helter Skelter and can also meet Santa here. Kids should not miss visiting Santa as he hands out treats to the children. For adults, there’s plenty of German bars, which serve Gluhwein and traditional beers.
Christmas market in George Square at Glasgow is as family-friendly as it can be. Everyone will truly enjoy what this market has to offer.
Open: Sunday 25th November to Monday 31st December 2018.