Exeter Christmas Market is back again in 2023, held on Cathedral Green in front of the Gothic Cathedral. 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.
In this guide, I share confirmed dates for 2023, opening times and all the essential details for planning your visit.
Cathedral Green is located in the heart of the city, and the Christmas market is one of the most popular events to experience winter in Exeter; it’s the biggest Christmas market in Devon.
A crucial part of the experience here is indulging in the market’s gastronomical delights. The significance of food is heightened through the Exeter Food & Drink Trail, which runs parallel to the market festivities.
This unique trail showcases the best of local producers, making it an unmissable part of Exeter’s Christmas celebrations.
Exeter Christmas Market 2023
As you wander around the Christmas market in Exeter, you’ll be enamoured by the quaint setting on Cathedral Green, right in the heart of the city.
The market buzzes with over 100 stalls, an ideal blend of local and international traders, showcasing everything from artisan crafts to gourmet food and West Country produce.
Nestled against the stunning backdrop of Exeter Cathedral, the market embodies a magical atmosphere, further amplified by the beautifully lit wooden chalets and the towering Christmas tree.
A pivotal feature of the market is the bustling bandstand, which hosts live music performances that add a special melody to your visit, including the Exeter Cathedral Choir. You also get free entry to Exeter Cathedral.
In addition to Exeter Christmas Market, the city hosts the Exeter Winter Wonderland event, where you’ll find the ice rink and Santa’s Grotto. Full details are below.
Dates and Location
Exeter Christmas Market dates: 17th November to 17th December 2023.
Location: Cathedral Green, just off the High Street.
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday: 10am and 7pm. Thursday to Saturday: 10am to 9pm. Sunday: 11am to 5pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 17th November.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: A family-friendly event with a focus on local artisans and performers.
Specialities: Locally caught seafood, baked goods, specialty coffee, Exeter gin, fudge and cheese.
Where to stay: City Gate is a popular hotel located 4 minutes from Cathedral Green.
Hotels near Exeter Christmas Market
A few steps from Exeter Cathedral is City Gate, a conveniently located hotel for visitors to Exeter. Alternatively, you could stay at the classically decorated Southernhay House Hotel, which is a 3-minute walk from Cathedral Green.
The Exeter city centre is a relaxing area to walk around, and there are a number of excellent places to stay. If you’re looking for somewhere nice but affordable, my guide to hotels near Exeter Christmas Market gives some options for all budgets.
Location of Cathedral Green
Exeter Winter Wonderland 2023 – Cancelled
Note: Winter Wonderland is cancelled in 2023.
If you’re looking to visit other UK cities this winter, be inspired by our list of the best Christmas markets UK in 2023.
Exeter’s Winter Wonderland is ready to dazzle at Northernhay Gardens for a third year. This festive event at the base of Exeter Castle has something for everyone.
Children can enjoy an array of rides and the carousel, while food lovers can explore an assortment of locally sourced refreshments.
There is a real, covered ice rink where you can take a spin, while those looking to unwind can sip their favourite tipple at the German-themed Alpine bar.
And for the little ones, a meeting with Santa in his giant grotto, complete with an elf workshop, is sure to create a magical memory.
This year, a Mini Christmas Market is also introduced, perfect for finding that special gift.
Exeter Winter Wonderland dates:
16th November to 2nd January.Cancelled in 2023. Location: Northernhay Gardens at the base of Exeter Castle.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Opening times: 11am to 10pm.
Daily: 11am to 10pm.Cancelled in 2023. Advance booking recommended but not essential. Book online.
Dates: 16th to 24th December 2023.Cancelled in 2023. Monday to Friday: 12pm to 7pm.
Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 8pm.
Advance booking recommended but not essential.
Tickets for rides are available from the Box Office at the Ice Rink.
Daily: 11am to 10pm.
German Themed Bar:
Daily: 11am to 10pm.
Location of Exeter Winter Wonderland
Christmas in Exeter
Food at the Christmas Market
Devonshire Cream Tea: The traditional cream tea is a highlight of any visit to Devon, and certainly at the Exeter Christmas Market. There’s nothing quite like a warm scone heaped with clotted cream and a dollop of locally made strawberry jam.
Pasties: A Devon classic, these pastries come with various fillings, but the traditional option, stuffed with beef, potatoes, swede and onions, remains a firm favourite. Enjoy one piping hot from the oven at the Christmas markets.
Mulled Wine and Cider: When it gets chilly, you’ll appreciate the spicy warmth of traditional mulled wine or cider, made even better when served from a festive stall.
International Cuisines: Alongside these local specialties, you’ll find an array of international foods on offer. Think Spanish paella, Greek gyros, Hungarian langos and Italian stone-baked pizza to ensure a varied culinary experience.
Artisan Chocolates: Devon has a vibrant artisan food scene and that includes chocolate. Find a stall selling handmade, ethically sourced treats – the perfect indulgence or a thoughtful gift.
Fudge: Devon is renowned for its creamy fudge, with flavours ranging from vanilla to more festive combinations like mince pie or gingerbread. Try a piece, or take home a selection box.
Hot Roasted Chestnuts: A Christmas market wouldn’t be complete without this seasonal treat. Savour the smoky-sweet flavour of these freshly roasted nuts as you explore the market.
Bratwurst: For a taste of Germany, seek out a stall selling sizzling Bratwurst sausages served in a crispy roll with mustard and onions. Ideal for a quick, warming snack.
What to Buy
Devonshire Honey: The region is known for its quality honey; jars of this golden delight make perfect gifts. Pick up a pot from one of the Christmas stalls and perhaps some beeswax candles too.
Locally Made Pottery: Exeter has a strong pottery tradition, and you can find beautifully crafted items, from mugs to decorative pieces, reflecting the skills of local artisans.
Handmade Chocolates: A stall selling artisan chocolates is sure to catch your eye. Individually crafted and beautifully packaged, these make perfect presents – if they make it home!
Hand-Knitted Woolly Hats: Local crafters often make these hats using British wool, perfect for keeping warm during the festive season. Look out for those in traditional Aran or Fair Isle patterns.
Exeter Christmas Decorations: Themed decorations are popular souvenirs from the Christmas market in Exeter. A beautifully made bauble or tree ornament featuring iconic Exeter landmarks will be a lovely reminder of your visit.
Traditional Wooden Toys: Wooden toys are a Christmas market staple. From hand-carved animals to intricate puzzles, these items delight children and make unique gifts for collectors.
Devon Cider: Devon is famous for its cider, and you can find a wide selection at the Christmas market. Choose from traditional brews or flavoured varieties for a taste of Devon at home.
Unique Jewellery: Look out for stalls selling handmade jewellery crafted by local artisans. A distinctive piece, whether it’s made from silver, beaded or created from local sea glass, can make a very personal gift.
Books by Local Authors: Showcasing the rich literary culture of the area, books by local authors covering a range of genres can make a thoughtful gift for the bookworm in your life.
Things to Do in Exeter in Winter
Tucked within the charm of Devon, Exeter Christmas Market is anticipating more than 600,000 in 2023. While you’re in the area, check out some of the most popular things to do.
The majestic Exeter Cathedral is taking centre stage at the city’s heart and the Christmas market. Gothic architecture breathes life into the stone, creating a spectacle you’d be remiss to overlook whilst attending the bustling market on its doorstep. Inside, you’re invited to lose yourself amongst the centuries-old intricacies, where the occasional free tour led by a knowledgeable local guide unravels its captivating narrative.
Below the bustle of Exeter High Street lies a realm of antiquity in the form of Exeter’s Underground Passages. These medieval structures of a bygone era beckon the curious to delve beneath the city’s surface. You’ll traverse these intriguing subterranean tunnels through a guided tour as you journey back through time.
The city’s commitment to preserving and celebrating its history is further evident in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Renowned as a world-class institution, the museum unveils Exeter and Devon’s rich historical tapestry through compelling displays, galleries, and thought-provoking exhibitions, all nestled within modern amenities that complement your visit.
Dedicated to the art of the moving image, The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum holds a unique place in Exeter’s winter attractions. Here, you can immerse yourself in cinema’s magic and history and discover its profound impact on society.
Venturing a little outside of the city, the imposing Powderham Castle offers an immersive day trip. Standing for over six centuries, the castle encapsulates history within its grand walls. It gets decked in its holiday finery during the festive season, providing a truly special seasonal experience.
The Exeter Christmas market is one of the highlights of a trip to Devon in December. It’s great to see the event return again in 2023, and we hope local residents and tourists will support the event and enjoy Christmas in Exeter. Find out more at the Visit Exeter tourist office and the official website for the city.
Sustainable Travel Tips
The choices we make have an environmental and social impact on the places we visit. When visiting the Christmas markets, keeping sustainability in mind is important. Implement some or all of these simple measures to create a positive impact.
Use Public Transportation: Exeter is well connected by bus and train services, reducing the need for car usage. Opt for these services when you can. They’re efficient, and you reduce your carbon footprint by choosing public transport. Trains from Great Western Railway and buses from Stagecoach South West service the area regularly.
Stay in Eco-Friendly Accommodations: You indirectly support renewable energy practices and reduce energy waste by staying in an eco-friendly hotel.
Support Local Farm-to-Table Restaurants: Enjoy a meal at one of Devon’s many farm-to-table restaurants. By dining at establishments like The Plant Cafe in Exeter, you experience the richness of locally sourced cuisine, promote sustainable diets, and reduce food miles.
Bring Your Own Shopping Bag: Exeter Christmas Market is an amazing place to shop for gifts. However, plastic bags contribute significantly to environmental pollution. I carry a reusable bag when I go shopping – it’s a small act, but it can make a big difference.
Purchase Ethical Products: Many stalls at the Christmas markets in Exeter feature ethically sourced or produced goods. Seek out these vendors to ensure your purchases support fair trade and ethical consumption.
Mind Your Food Waste: At the Christmas market and beyond, try only to buy and order what you can consume. If you have leftovers, consider taking them home for later. Devon County Council provides food waste caddies in many accommodations.
Cycle around Exeter: The city is very bike-friendly, with several bicycle hire services available. It’s a great way to see the city and reduce your carbon emissions at the same time.
Exeter Christmas Market 2023 starts 17th November to 17th December 2023.
Exeter Christmas Markets ends on the 17th December 2023.
Exeter Christmas Markets opens Monday to Wednesday: 10am. Thursday to Saturday: 10am. Sunday: 11am.
Exeter Christmas Market closes Monday to Wednesday: 7pm. Thursday to Saturday: 9pm. Sunday: 5pm.
Exeter Christmas Market is held at Cathedral Green in the city centre.
Exeter Christmas Market does not have an ice rink, and Winter Wonderland is closed in 2023.
Exeter Christmas Market is free to enter, and no tickets are required. Winter Wonderland is cancelled in 2023.
If you have any questions or comments about visiting Exeter Xmas Market or would like to leave a review of the Christmas markets, please leave a comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Exeter, UK. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.