Almost every city in the UK has a Christmas market or Winter Wonderland type festive event. The Christmas markets are ideal places to meet with friends and family to connect over a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate. While there are common themes to every Christmas market, each has a unique atmosphere that offers a different experience. Although it’s completely subjective, we have created a guide to what we believe to be the best Christmas markets in the UK.
Best Christmas Markets UK
Before you make a decision on where you would like to go this Christmas, consider if you would prefer to stay close to home or take a Christmas getaway elsewhere in the UK. It’s always nice to support Christmas events near you but it’s understandable if you would like a change of scenery.
If you want to head abroad, our guide to the best Christmas markets in Europe has plenty of inspirational winter destinations. Otherwise, below are the best Christmas markets, fairs, festivals and Winter Wonderlands in the UK.
Christmas Markets 2021
1. York, England
York is so much more than The Shambles, the famous cobblestone street lined with half-timbered houses. The city is filled with iconic attractions like York Minster, Clifford’s Tower and of course York Christmas market. The Christmas market in York is known as St Nicholas Fair and it’s returning in 2021, bringing the community together for a magical winter in York.
Located in the heart of the city, you can experience the wonderful Christmas decorations along The Shambles to Parliament Street where the Christmas market begins. Enjoy the stalls and sample the Christmas food as you walk towards St Sampson’s Square that is lined with alpine-style chalets.
York Christmas market dates: 18th November to 23rd December 2021.
Opening hours: Friday and Saturday – 10am to 10pm. During the week the market closes at 6pm.
Location: Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square.
Reason to visit: The festive atmosphere and historic Shambles Market location.
2. Birmingham, England
Unlike elsewhere in the UK, Birmingham Christmas Market is a special kind of market as it is aligned with the Frankfurt Christmas market in Germany. Known officially as Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market it is the largest Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria.
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market will take place over seven weeks from early November until just before Christmas Day. This is the most traditional German Christmas market in the UK and is by far the most popular.
Birmingham Christmas market dates: 4th November to 23rd December 2021 (dates are subject to change).
Opening times: 10am to 9pm daily. Except Remembrance Sunday (14th November) when the market will be open from 1pm – 9pm.
Location: Victoria Square and New Street, Birmingham.
Reason to visit: The chance to visit a traditional German Christmas market in the UK.
3. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh’s winter festivals combine Christmas and Hogmanay over the November to January festive period. There are a number of Christmas markets both in the city centre and in neighbourhood squares. Do some Christmas shopping at the Scottish Market on George Street or visit the traditional European Market in the Mound Precinct. You can enjoy a ride on the Big Wheel, the Star Flyer or a traditional Christmas carousel. Ice skating on St Andrew Square is always popular and you can hire skates if you don’t have your own.
Edinburgh Christmas market dates: 20th November to 2nd January 2022.
Opening times: TBA
Location: George Steeet, the Mound Precinct and elsewhere around the city.
Reason to visit: Great food, loads of drinks and a fun atmosphere.
4. Bath, England
The beautiful city of Bath is famous for its Roman baths, historic Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge and in winter, the Bath Christmas market. A city teeming with historic attractions, green spaces, museums and galleries, Bath is one of the most desirable winter destinations in the UK.
Read our guide to Bath Christmas Market. This market has been cancelled in 2021, however there will still be some Christmas events taking place around the city. Winter in Bath is a beautiful time to visit and we still recommend visiting if you have the opportunity.
Discover our recommended hotels near Bath Christmas Market for when it returns in 2022 or if you’re looking for somewhere central to stay this year.
Unfortunately, the Bath Christmas Market has been cancelled in 2021. The city will run a number of smaller Christmas events in December but not the traditional Christmas markets Bath is has become known for in recent years. However, a virtual Bath Christmas market will take place online where people can meet with local artisans and buy their handmade Christmas gifts, ornaments and specialty products.
5. Southbank, London, England
Southbank Winter Festival is a hugely popular Christmas event for Londoners and visitors alike. The banks of the River Thames are decorated for the festive season along with German-style wooden cabins. You’ll find regular events and street performers along with all the Christmas market classics.
6. Nottingham, England
If you want to experience the best of the Christmas markets in Nottinghamshire then for sure you will want to visit Nottingham Christmas Market. Known locally as Nottingham Winter Wonderland, it’s one of the most popular winter events in the region and many are excited for its return in 2021.
Read our full guide to Nottingham Christmas Market which is expected to return in 2021.
Stay in one of our recommended hotels near Nottingham Christmas Market for a convenient stay in the Lace Market or near the Old Market Square.
The Winter Wonderland is a traditional German-style market with all the wonderful Christmas food, mulled wine, handmade gifts and decorations that you would expect to see in a German Christmas market.
Nottingham Christmas market dates: 15th November to 31st December 2021.
Opening times: 11am (10am on the weekends) to 5:30pm. The bars and Big Wheel close at 11pm.
Location: Old Market Square and Long Row.
Reason to visit: Nottingham Market Square is the home of the largest Christmas market in the East Midlands.
7. Manchester, England
Located in Albert Square in the city centre (temporarily moving to Piccadilly Gardens in 2021), Manchester Christmas Market is one of the largest Christmas markets in the UK.
Read our complete guide to the 7 Christmas markets Manchester that are taking place in the cultural centre of the city.
You’ll find more than 300 Christmas stalls with a mix of traditional German and Austrian gifts and food along with many locally produced specialties. It’s a great Christmas market for eating out with stalls by some of the top food vendors in Manchester.
Manchester Christmas market dates: 12th November to 22nd December 2021.
Locations: Piccadilly Gardens and six other locations.
Reason to visit: The international atmophere with Christmas food from around the world. There is a Giant Santa at St Peter’s Square, a gin bar with 100 types of gin and Skate Manchester ice rink at Cathedral Square.
8. Winchester, England
Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market is considered to be one of the best in the United Kingdom. More than 100 Christmas chalets are expected to line the streets and you can go ice skating at the popular Christmas Ice Rink. Winchester market is known for its focus on artisanal, locally produced gifts and decorations.
9. Exeter, England
Once again held on Cathedral Green, the return of this community-minded event is welcome after a difficult year. The Bavarian-style Christmas stalls will line the paths surrounding the Cathedral where you’ll find traditional Christmas food, artisanal gifts and decorations, local musicians and family-friendly entertainment.
Read our guide to Exeter Christmas Market 2021 where it will be held in front of Exeter Cathedral.
If you’re looking for good value for money hotels near Exeter Christmas Market we recommend a number of places to stay close to Cathedral Green.
Cathedral Green is located in the heart of the city and the Christmas Market in Exeter is one of the most popular events to experience winter in Exeter. Food is a high priority in Exeter and the Exeter Food & Drink Trail celebrates local producers, even in December.
Exeter Christmas market dates: 18th November to 28th December 2021.
Location: Cathedral Green, just off the High Street.
Reason to visit: A family-friendly event with a focus on local artisans and performers.
10. Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow has plenty to celebrate this winter. There are two traditional Christmas markets, the IRN-BRU Carnival and of course Hogmanay. St Enoch is very much about the food from the traditional German bratwurst to sweet handmade cakes. George Street is the home of the city’s international Christmas market, best for artisanal gift shopping and Christmas decorations.
Locations: St Enoch Christmas Market and George Street Christmas Market
Glasgow Christmas market dates: 9th November to 29th December 2021.
Reason to visit: The Royal Mile Christmas decorations.
British Christmas Markets
There is much more to see than the top Christmas markets in the UK. Almost every city has their own British Christmas market or those that resemble traditional German Christmas markets. We have a few more guides with UK dates and locations of some smaller Christmas fairs and Advent markets you might like to visit.
- Bristol Christmas Market – Located in the heart of Bristol with more than 50 stalls, Bristol Christmas Market is returning to the city centre in 2021. The event is known for its cosy igloos, Bavarian bar and the stunningly decorated Christmas tree on Broadmead.
This is just a sample of the wonderful UK Christmas markets taking place around the country. Support your local Christmas city by visiting often or enjoy a Christmas getaway further afield if you can.
Please note Christmas dates are subject to change and government regulations. Be sure to follow all health and safety guidelines put in place and keep a safe distance from others.