Almost every city in the UK has a Christmas market or Winter Wonderland festive event. Although it’s completely subjective, I’ve created a guide to what I believe to be the best Christmas markets in the UK based on my experience of living and travelling in the UK. Spend your time wisely by visiting the markets that best suit your festive needs.
Best Christmas Markets UK 2022
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. These are the top 10.
Manchester Christmas Market – Located in Albert Square in the city centre (temporarily moving to Piccadilly Gardens), Manchester is home to one of the largest Christmas markets in the UK.
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. There is a Giant Santa at St Peter’s Square, a gin bar with 100 types of gin and the Skate Manchester ice rink at Cathedral Square.
Get more information on Christmas market dates, times and things to see in Manchester with my Manchester Christmas Market guide, updated for 2022.
If you would like to stay in a central location, book one of my recommended hotels near Manchester Christmas Market. In general, I suggest staying in the Northern Quarter.
Edinburgh Christmas Market – Edinburgh’s winter festivals combine Christmas and Hogmanay over the November to January festive period.
There are several 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.
Birmingham Christmas Market – 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. It’s 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 Christmas market in the UK and is by far the most popular.
Read my guide to Birmingham Christmas Market and dates and full details for 2022.
I suggest stay near Victoria Square and New Street at one of these recommended hotels near Birmingham Christmas Market.
Bath Christmas Market – The beautiful city of Bath is famous for its Roman baths, historic Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge and in winter, the Bath Christmas market.
It’s a city teeming with historic attractions, green spaces, museums and galleries, Bath is one of the most desirable winter destinations in the UK.
York Christmas Market – 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 2022, 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 which is lined with alpine-style chalets.
For full details, read my York Christmas Market guide that includes dates for 2022, opening times and locations.
Discover the best areas to stay close to Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square in this guide to hotels near York Christmas Market.
6. Southbank, London
Southbank Christmas Market – 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.
Nottingham Christmas Market – 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 2022.
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.
Read my full guide to Nottingham Christmas Market which is returning in 2022.
Stay in one of my recommended hotels near Nottingham Christmas Market for a convenient stay in the Lace Market or near the Old Market Square.
Winchester Christmas Market – 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.
Exeter Christmas Market – Once again held on Cathedral Green, the return of this community-minded event is welcome after several difficult years.
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.
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.
Food is a high priority in Exeter and the Exeter Food & Drink Trail celebrates local producers, even in December.
Read my guide to Exeter Christmas Market 2022 where it will be held in front of Exeter Cathedral.
If you’re looking for good value for money hotels near Exeter Christmas Market I recommend several places to stay close to Cathedral Green.
Glasgow Christmas Market – 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.
While George Street is the home of the city’s international Christmas market, best for artisanal gift shopping and Christmas decorations.
Christmas Markets in England
There are many other Christmas markets in the UK that are well worth visiting. Almost every city has their own British-style Christmas market or those that resemble traditional German Christmas markets.
Bristol Christmas Market – Located in the heart of Bristol with more than 50 stalls, Bristol Christmas Market is returning to the city centre in 2022. The event is known for its cosy igloos, Bavarian bar and the stunningly decorated Christmas tree on Broadmead.
Sustainable Travel in the UK
The choices we make have an environmental and social impact on the places we visit. When visiting the Christmas markets, it’s important to keep sustainability in mind.
Implement some or all of these simple measures to create a positive impact.
- Shop mindfully. Only purchase what you really need.
- Walk, cycle and use public transport to get around.
- Stay in a sustainable hotel powered by renewable energy.
- Stay in hotels. Short-stay apartment accommodation can lead to a lack of affordable housing for locals.
- Avoid using plastic or buying items made or packaged with plastic.
- Try to eat locally sourced organic food where possible.
- Limit your consumption of meat and dairy.
- Be open to diverse cultures and experiences.
- Explore more than just the main tourist areas.
- Support the arts and attend local events.
- Visit fewer places but stay longer at each destination.
10th December 2022.
Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Bath.
If you want to head abroad during the upcoming holidays, my guide to the best Christmas markets in Europe has plenty of inspirational winter destinations.