Covid-19 might have cancelled Christmas last year, but we’re hurtling towards a bumper edition of festive fun this year to make up for it. While a few Christmas markets have been cancelled and some of the larger fairs have introduced booking requirements, most of the country’s best Christmas markets are going ahead – and they’re set to be bigger and better than ever. From festive feasts to Bavarian beer tents, we’ve rounded up 25 of the best Christmas markets in the UK.
The UK’s Best Christmas Markets
Dates: November 19-December 19
The Duke of Malborough’s 2,000-acre home is good-looking all year round, but particularly so when it’s festooned with Christmas lights. This year over 70 designers and craft makers will set up camp in dozens of wooden chalets dotted around the Great Court. After shopping for festive goodies and supping on local cheeses, take a stroll along the Illuminated Trail, a twinkling path through the palace and gardens.
Dates: November 3 – December 23
Victoria Square’s annual Christmas market always hits top spots when it comes to the big roundups – and it’s warranted. It’s the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria and the best place to enjoy steaming hot bratwursts, schnitzels and roasted almonds served with a side of gluhwein (mulled wine). Stalls selling all sorts of exciting handicrafts spill out onto New Street, so it’s worth holding off buying Christmas presents until you have the chance to pop along.
Dates: December 9–12 2021
This is the UK’s largest Victorian-themed Christmas fair, and for good old-fashioned fun, you really can’t beat it. We’re not the only one’s who think so either. It’s only in its fourth year and it’s already won a handful of awards. This year there will be over 300 stalls run by traders dressed in Victorian-era garb. There’ll be a traditional funfair, complete with a carousel, and live performances on the Henley Street Stage. There’s always lots of food and drink to go around too, though thankfully that isn’t Victorian-themed too.
Dates: November 18–December 23 2021
It’s only in its fifth year, but it’s hard to imagine Christmas in Southampton without this traditional German market. Featuring 40 independent stallholders offering a range of homemade toys, soaps, jewellery and Christmas decorations, you’re bound to find at least a few stocking fillers ere. Those that aren’t selling crafts will likely be serving hearty German fayre, with plenty of bratwursts, gingerbread men and waffles to keep blood sugars high. Local schools tend to get involved with performances too, so it has a real community spirit. Don’t miss Flying Santa, which sees Santa and his reindeer fly 35 metres over the market and return bearing small gifts for children.
Dates: November 26 – December 31 2021
For a dose of Christmas-by-the-sea, Brighton’s newest Christmas Festival and Market has you covered. Boasting five festive zones, the Christmas extravaganza will include two purpose-built entertainment venues, live shows, and Apres Ski bar and Santa’s grotto. Entry is free but make sure you reserve tickets soon to secure your spot.
Dates: November 19 –December 22
Dubbed ‘England’s Christmas Capital’, you can rely on Winchester to put on a good Christmas market. In fact, it’s one of the most popular markets in Europe, drawing over 400,00 people every year. Think piping-hot mince pies, mulled wine and carols against the backdrop of one of the country’s most spectacular cathedrals. There will be plenty of perusing potential too, with dozens of wooden chalets selling arts and crafts, homeware, games and toys. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, there’s an ice rink too.
Dates: November 12 – December 22 2021
They don’t do things by halves in Manchester, and the latest instalment of Christmas Markets in Manchester is all the proof you need. The markets spread across six squares, with Piccadilly Gardens this year stealing the show with the all-new ‘Winter Gardens’. There will be more than 300 stalls and chalets planted across the city, with the biggest market found in Albert Square. There will also be a French Market, a German market, a World Christmas market and a dedicated Arts and Crafts Market.
Dates: November 18 – December 23
One of the most magical Christmas markets in Britain, St. Nicholas Fair (also known as York Christmas Market) runs all the way along Parliament Street and down to St. Sampson’s Square, with stalls spilling into the Shambles too. This year there will be 68 wintry alpine chalets spread across the streets, selling all the best kinds of stocking fillers. Thor’s Tipi is also back for the sixth year running, selling mulled wine and hot chocolates. Head to Yorkshire Barn in St. Sampson’s Square for hot chestnuts and a ride on the vintage carousel too.
Dates: November 19 2021 – January 2 2022
Christmas is taken seriously in Edinburgh. Unlike most Christmas markets, which tend to end before jolly old St. Nicholas actually joins us, the market in East Princes Street Gardens is a six-week bonanza that lasts until January. Expect stalls selling everything from Christmas baubles to ceramics, as well as lots of tasty treats. If you’re in town for New Year, you can combine a Christmas market trip with the legendary Hogmanay street party, starting on 30 December.
Dates: November 27 – December 12 2021
If wooden chalets, thousands of fairy lights and a grotto for Santa isn’t magical enough for you, the folks in Rochester have thrown in a castle too for the ultimate fairytale setting. Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty popular, attracting more than 130,00 visitors every year. As always, there will be a Bavarian food village serving up Rochester’s best bratwurst, as well as chalet-style stalls selling everything from homemade jams to Christmas crackers. It also coincides with the annual Dickensian Christmas Festival, a two-day extravaganza that takes over the high street.
Dates: November 20 – December 23
Belfast’s beloved continental Christmas market is set to return in 2021 – and it’s bigger and better than ever. You’ll find more than mince pies and mulled wine here, with dozens of traders from across the globe serving up international fare, as well as Christmas trinkets, gifts and stocking fillers. You can finally find your favourite festive tipple at its two buzzing bars.
Dates: November 11 – December 23
You’ll find all the usual Christmas market trimmings in Cardiff – mulled wine, carousels, Father Christmas – but what really sets this Christmas market apart is its emphasis on creating an exciting and eclectic shopping experience. There’s not a tacky bauble in sight; instead, you’ll find welsh slate and pewter, gobsmackingly good-looking jewellery and traditional wooden toys. With lots of hot toddies, fresh-out-the-oven cinnamon buns and steaming pancakes, you’ll want to make sure you arrive on an empty stomach too. The market this year is set to run along St Joh Street, Working Street, The Hayes, Hills Street and Trinity Street.
Dates: November 18 – December 22
Set in front of the own hall and medieval cathedral, Chester’s Christmas market is undeniably pretty and possibly one of the best-looking Christmas markets on our list. This year there will be around 60 cabins selling local, handmade crafts and tasty snacks, including Roberts Country Frye’s famous pies. If you’re visiting in late November, you’ll get to see the Roving Moon art installation too, made from recycled materials by Jessica Rost.
Dates: December 4 & 5 2021
Malton is known as Yorkshire’s food capital for good reason, but if you don’t believe them then head here at Christmastime. The Malton Christmas Market is lip-smackingly good, offering all the best local, festive produce, from turkeys to roasted chestnuts. With over 100 stalls to explore, you can expect top-notch food, as well as live music, festive gifts and live performances from local choirs. There’s also an exceptionally charming Victorian-themed fairground ride and a land train for little ones.
Dates: 19 November – 3 January
For sheer scale, it’s hard to compete with London’s Winter Wonderland. Every year, Central London’s largest park, Hyde Park, transforms into a twinkling candy-covered fairyland. There’s a market, yes, but there’s also the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, a circus show, a Giant Observation Wheel, Ice Sculpting Workshops and a Magical Ice Kingdom – a fantasy palace featuring forest glades and witches in pointy hats. This year, there’s also ‘Bar Ice’, an Insta-worthy bar sculpted out of ice. You’ll need to book tickets and they cost £5–7.
Dates: December 2–5 2021
What started as 11 stalls in a market square in 1982 has since expanded to incorporate over 250 stalls across five different locations. It’s so popular that you can pick up a chartered train scheduled specifically for that week. Hertfordshire Rail Tours, Scottish Railway Preservation Society and West Coast Rail all run a special train service to the Christmas market. Most of the action takes place in the medieval square, where you can pick up local-made produce, tuck into hot waffles and enjoy the live entertainment.
Dates: November 16–December 19 2022
Bringing together Devon’s best traders, Exeter’s award-winning Christmas market is set against the backdrop of Exeter Cathedral. The format has changed a little to allow for an improved (and Covid-19 safety) ‘flow’, but there will still be dozens of Bavarian-style chalets serving up festive food, local crafts and lots of lively entertainment. It’s a good time to visit the cathedral too since the admission fee is waived for the market. Don’t miss the Cathedral Tavern Bar.
Dates: December 3-5 2021
If it’s festive food you’re after, then hotfoot to Hampton Palace. After all, where better to indulge than Henry VIII royal residence? The grounds will transform into a festive food lover’s paradise, bursting with artisan food and drinks, as well as cooking gadgets and gizmo gifts. There’ll be sing-along festive classics from the East Front Bandstand too.
Dates: November 5 – December 23 2021
Bath Christmas market might be cancelled this year, but all is not lost for the South-West. Bristol’s much-loved Christmas market is set to return, and with 50 stalls it’s bigger than ever. There will be all the usual favourites – sweet treats like crepes and churros, German Gluhwein, traditional Bratwurst and homemade gifts – as well as a special visit from Santa and his reindeer in December.
Dates: November 12 – December 23
This year’s Christmas market promises to be a fun-filled, family-friendly affair in a brand new location, at St. John’s Gardens, William Brown Street and St. George’s Hall. Little ones will love the merry-go-rounds, games stalls and snow slide, while adults can enjoy the tipi bar, ski bar, windmill bar and an all-new Bavarian bar, serving up a roster of German beers. The market coincides with Liverpool Ice Festival, too.
Dates: November 18 – December 31 2021
Aberdeen boasts a few festive markets that are worth a visit, but for sheer size. you can’t go wrong with the Christmas Village. Hosted in the city’s brand-new civic space, there’s something for everyone. This year’s event will boast a festive fairground, an open-air ice rink, and a wide-ranging programme of entertainment from the local community. There’s also the FINE Christmas Food and Drink Market which tells the story of the region through local producers. If you’re interested in design, don’t miss HAAN, a dedicated design market showcasing up-and-coming local and international designers and makers of top-quality creative products.
Dates: December 3 – 5 2021
Durham looks like it’s been plucked right out of a Harry Potter film all year round, but never more so than in winter. This award-winning Christmas market takes place outside the iconic Durham Cathedral and Castle on Palace Green. This year’s festival features 180 stalls spread over three markets in three days of festive fun. You can also expect carol singers, falconry displays and Santa’s grotto. If you’re thinking about bringing the whole family, don’t miss the Children’s Lantern Procession either.
Dates: November 12 – December 30
The Steel City’s famous festive market started life as a handful of cabins next to a shopping centre. Now it’s a sprawling event that can cheer even the Scroogiest souls. This year there will be 50 market stalls in Fargate, Town Hall Square and Peace Gardens. Over 80% of the traders are based in Sheffield too. After shopping until you feel very much like dropping, you can pop to the Alpine Bar to quench your thirst. You can meet the big man too at Santa’s Grotto or take in the views from the Big Wheel.
Dates: November 27 – 28 2021
Ford’s Christmas market is short and exceptionally sweet, with stalls running along the picturesque Fountain Walk and around the Waterford Memorial. As well as locally-made arts and crafts, you’ll be able to fill your belly with plenty of festive food. Santa Claus will be paying a visit, there’s a whole calendar of live performances throughout the weekend and they’ll be a special one-man performance of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol in Lady Waterford Hall too.
Dates: November 27–28 2021 / December 2–5 2022
For festive arts and crafts, it’s hard to beat the Crafty Boaters. Held over two magical weekends in November and December, there are two picturesque locations to choose from in Lechlade-on-Thames– the New Inn Hotel and the Riverside Pub. Featuring nearly 50 stalls selling everything from pickles and preserved to flowers and foliage, you’ll have your pick of the ‘Best of British’ goodies.