Planning to stroll around a Christmas market this winter? While the UK might not be in the same league as some of the most legendary Christmas hotspots in Europe, there are still plenty of opportunities for shopping for your loved ones, sipping mulled wine by the fire, and sampling some of the most authentic local cuisine.
The good news is that you don’t need to go abroad to enjoy some of the most incredible Christmas celebrations in Europe. The UK hosts wonderful Christmas markets, with many cities extending their festive offerings to include activities, games, lights displays and even pop-up ice-skating rinks. No matter where you’re based, it’s always worth learning about the best of the bunch.
Five of the best Christmas markets in the UK: Our top picks
If you’re hoping for an all-out festive experience filled with colour, noise and energy, heading to London could make a brilliant choice. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park promises something for everyone in the family and the largest outdoor ice-skating rink in the UK too. You’ll find dazzling observation wheels, twinkling lights and over a hundred stalls offering tempting foods and gifts.
But you don’t need to head to Hyde Park to experience the joy of Christmas in the capital. From the tranquillity of Southbank Centre Winter Market to the rather upmarket offerings at Greenwich Market, you’ll be sure to find something to keep the cheer strong.
Fancy a trip up north? York has been famed for its Christmas offerings for centuries, and in 2023 its Christmas Market will run from 16th November through to 22nd December. During the peak of the festive period, York’s commercial Parliament Street transforms into a traditional-style Christmas market.
Independent traders based within wooden market stalls amplify the city’s ancient charm, and you’ll only need to take a short stroll before you can marvel at the towering beauty of York Minster too. Luckily for those living south of the city, trains from London to York are fast, frequent and direct, making this city easier to reach than ever before.
If you’re thinking of heading to Edinburgh this year, this Scottish gem could make a truly magical choice. With its fantastic architecture, endless shopping opportunities and a myriad of cosy bars and restaurants, it’s the perfect location for a romantic retreat too.
Christmas markets in Edinburgh make up part of the city’s Winter Festivals. From late November through until early January, the castle walls are illuminated with bright and inspiring lights displays. There are several parties to choose from during the festive period, so why not dance into the wee hours at the Hogmanay Street Party on New Year’s Eve?
Manchester is a huge city for fans of live music and lively nightlife. The Christmas markets take place from mid-November through to just before Christmas, so there’s plenty of time to get your shopping fix in before you head back home to see the family.
Piccadilly Gardens becomes the Winter Gardens too, so you won’t be short of opportunities for festive tipples and delicious snacks while you’re in the city. Why not head to King Street to discover the exceptional deli stalls too?
Planning to visit somewhere that’s suitable for the children and their grandparents too? If you’d like to find a Christmas market experience at a more relaxed pace, Bath makes an exceptional choice. You can soak up a genuine festive atmosphere with chalets and stalls nestled amongst the regal Georgian architecture of the city.
From live choir performances to family-friendly ice skating and live theatre, there’s something for everyone in Bath. Why not treat yourself to a Thermae Bath Spa treatment after you’ve had your retail fix?
There are plenty of brilliant Christmas markets to choose from in the UK. And whether you’re going with family, friends or that special someone, travelling by train means you can forget the traffic and raise a glass to the season too.