The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder, which can only mean one thing: Christmas is here and the markets are back in town. As they’ve grown in popularity over the years we’ve been spoiled, it seems that xmas markets in the UK have sprung up in every town and city you can think of. It can be tough to wade through all the noise and find the cream of the crop but that’s where we come in.
If you’re curious about which city serves the finest bratwurst, the best mulled wine or the tastiest crepes, here are our picks for the best Christmas markets in the UK.
Photo: Ross Sneddon / Unsplash.com
When: Friday 17th November 2023 - Saturday 6th January 2024
Where: Princes Street, Edinburgh
A personal favourite, what better place to welcome the festive season and spirit in than the cobbled streets of Edinburgh. The Scottish capital carries a bit of a chokehold over the winter holidays, thanks to the city’s Hogmanay celebrations being the stuff of legend north of the border when beckoning in the new year. Before even that, the city plays its part in the Christmas holidays, with some of the best markets you can lay your eyes on.
Spanning seven weeks from Friday 17th November to Saturday 6th January 2024, the markets this year include the ever-so-popular Castle of Light, iconic street gardens spread across Princes Street and even an immersive theatrical event based on The Polar Express.
Photo: Manchester Christmas Markets / Facebook.com
When: Friday 10th November 2023 - Wednesday 3rd January 2024 (Piccadilly Gardens) or Friday 22nd December 2023 (Everything Else)
Where: Various, Manchester city centre
A classic for a reason, the Christmas markets in Manchester have been a city staple whenever the winter months draw closer. Ever since its introduction to the city centre streets in 1999, the markets have blossomed into an integral part of the city’s identity in the final months of the year.
Spread across ten different points across the city centre stretching from the Cathedral to the Town Hall, there’s plenty you can enjoy from 10th November to 22nd December (or 3rd January if you count Piccadilly Gardens’ Winter Garden). If you fancy the big one, Albert Square has everything you need and more, but don’t forget to try out Market Street, Corn Exchange and King Street while you’re at it! You certainly won't get bored easily...
Photo: Korng Sok / Unsplash.com
When: Thursday 2nd November - Sunday 21st December 2023
Where: New Street, Birmingham
Mainly centred around New Street near the station, the markets in Birmingham proudly boast to being both the largest outdoor markets in the country as well as its authenticity, bringing the true feel of a classic German/Austrian Christmas market to the UK, hence its official name of Frankfurt Christmas Markets. Despite its distance from Dusseldorf, the Birmingham Christmas Markets is one of the UK’s best thanks to how it brings that special feel over to the Midlands.
All of the authentic German treats you can think of are on display here, from Pretzels, schnitzels, bratwurst, currywurst and of course gluhwein and weissbier (wheat beer, of course) to help wash it down.
Photo: Andy Holmes / Unsplash.com
When: Friday 24th November 2023 - Friday 22nd November 2023
Where: Various, Leeds city centre
From the 24th November to 22nd December, the best Christmas markets in Yorkshire descend onto Leeds. As with other cities, the markets consist of a variety of Christmas-themed street stalls spread across the city centre, from nearby the Corn Exchange and Kirkgate Market stretching up to the Millenium Square.
If you’re dying for a festive drink, the Windmill Bar on Briggate and Apres at Sally’s on Quebec Street near the station offer some Christmas-themed bar areas to wet your appetite. But we get that’s not for everyone, if you’re gearing for something a bit more family-friendly the variety of family-friendly events at your fingertips. You can check out the ice skating rink on Millenium Square and try to locate all the nutcrackers in the city centre as part of the Nutcrackers Trail, the possibilities seem endless!
Photo: Sam Headland / Unsplash.com
When: Thursday 23rd November 2023 - Sunday 10th December 2023
Where: Various, Bath city centre
A big part of what makes a Christmas market so special is the atmosphere it creates. Bath is a particular city that provides the perfect backdrop to a winter wonderland setting. Spanning the picturesque and historic city centre, the Bath Christmas markets are a real treat for anyone wishing to scratch that festive itch, as every street corner contains mulled wine and iconic monuments. Spread out across eleven different sites in the city centre, he markets run from Thursday 23rd November to Sunday 10th December, so don’t miss your chance to soak in an underrated gem!
Photo: Bristol Christmas Market Broadmead / Facebook.com
When: Friday 3rd November 2023 - Saturday 23rd December 2023
Where: Broadmead, Shopping Quarter, Bristol
Not done in the South West yet? Take a quick trip up to Bath’s neighbour Bristol to continue the festivities, and that certainly wouldn’t be a mistake to make. With over 35 unique market stalls running from 3rd November to 23rd December, there’s plenty to do and get lost in by the Avon.
Located on the main street in the city's Shopping Quarter, the markets add to the stalls with eye-popping entertainment, stunning decorations and, if one is in more of a romantic mood, some iglus and ski gondolas to take things up a notch.
Photo: Korng Sok / Unsplash.com
When: Saturday 18th November 2023 - Friday 24th December 2023
Where: St George's Plateau, Liverpool
Returning up north to another one of the UK’s iconic seaport cities, Liverpool has never been shy about putting on a good time for the holidays, and their Christmas market stalls are no different. Located against St George’s Plateau in the city centre, the location provides another stunning backdrop for anyone in the North West and beyond to revel in the Christmas spirit. Fittingly considered to be the heart of the city, the building is an appropriate accompaniment to the cosy markets this year, which run from 18th November to 24th December.
Photo: Devon Rogers / Unsplash.com
When: Friday 17th November 2023 - Monday 1st January 2024
Where: Hyde Park, London
You can’t make a list of the best Christmas markets in the UK without talking about the capital! We could make an entire list of markets just based in London, but we’ll try and make it somewhat brief. Perhaps the most famous festive event in London is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, a wish list for any couple during the winter months.
Having opened on the 17th November and running until the 1st January, Winter Wonderland contains the UK’s biggest outdoor ice rink, a giant observation wheel, various shows for a more family-orientated crowd in addition to over 100 market stalls overflowing with various crafts, gifts and more.
Winter Wonderland might be the most well known and sought after collection of markets, but don’t let that stop you from branching out beyond Hyde Park. Most of the capital hotspots have their own spin on festive market stalls, so whether that be Covent Garden, Leicester Square or Trafalgar Square, the Big Smoke has you covered!
Photo: Humphrey Muleba / Pexels.com
When: Friday 17th November 2023 - Thursday 21st December 2023
Where: Town Hall Square, Northgate Street, Chester
Heading back up north close to the Welsh border, in sharp contrast to the fast-paced energy of London we have the cosy and festive Christmas markets of Chester. The historic city has atmosphere seeping from its city walls, and what better way to soak that all up than in their Christmas markets?
You can treat yourself to the festive feeling from 17th November to 21st December, located in the Town Hall Square on Northgate Street. Here you’ll find 70 unique traders selling all of the good stuff and more, along with the new arcade and the forum surrounding the city’s iconic Christmas tree. What’s not to love?
Photo: Elina Fairytale / Pexels.com
When: Thursday 16th November 2023 - Friday 22nd December 2023
Where: Parliament Street and St Sampson's Square, York
Don’t worry, we’re keeping it up north for now. From 16th November to 22nd December, one of the UK’s most festive cities soaks in the winter atmosphere. You certainly aren’t devoid of cracking Christmas events and stalls in York, which has been transformed into a winter paradise comprising 75 alpine chalets stretching across Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square.
If spending your time in the beautifully decorated city centre wasn't incentive enough, thanks to York's Park and Ride scheme, it's cheaper than ever for anyone local to get in and out. It's a perfect situation, as buses are travelling to and from the centre every 12 minutes with free parking across the city. There's no excuse to miss it now!
Photo: Kieron Scott / Unsplash.com
When: Friday 10th November 2023 - Saturday 30th December 2023 (Enoch Square), Saturday 25th November 2023 - Monday 4th January 2024 (George Square)
Where: Enoch Square and George Square, Glasgow
We haven’t forgotten about you, Scotland. Edinburgh might take the cake for Scottish Christmas markets, but the offerings in Glasgow are sure to not disappoint. Winterfest will take up a chunk of the action, operating out of George Square and Enoch Square to give them a festive makeover. George Square will run from 25th November to 4th January and involves an ice rink, festive bars and even a silent disco to name a few. The Enoch Square event, taking place from 10th November to 30th December, will continue the merriment with a selection of festive bars.
Photo: Jason Thompson / Unsplash.com
When: Tuesday 7th November 2023 - Sunday 31st December 2023
Where: Old Market Square, Nottingham
Aside from Birmingham we’ve been relatively lacking in Midlands representation, which is where Nottingham comes in. If you’re in the East Midlands feeling festive, the Nottingham Xmas markets have a wide variety of attractions, food stalls and market stalls so you can indulge in your merriment to your heart's content.
Fancy feasting or quenching your thirst? Try out the altitude bars. Looking for the perfect gift? The very best independent traders are convening in Old Market Square from 7th November to 31st December, allowing you to close out 2023 in style.
Photo: Thula Na / Unsplash.com
When: Saturday 18th November 2023 - Saturday 23rd December 2023
Where: Grey's Monument, Grainger Street and Old Eldon Square, Newcastle
If there’s anyone to be trusted with producing a good time for Christmas, it’s the Geordies. The Newcastle Christmas markets run from 18th November to 23rd December and are bringing the festive cheer up to the North East.
The action this year is based around Grey's Monument, Grainger Street and Old Eldon Square. With over 100 unique and local market traders at the city’s iconic Grainger Market, the markets are a perfect excuse for a lunch trip or a last minute Christmas shop. If that wasn’t enough, fun and festive workshops are at the markets too. And they’re free!
Photo: Chad Madden / Unsplash.com
When: Friday 17th November 2023 - 17th December 2023
Where: Cathedral Green, Exeter
Christmas is a holy time after all, so it’s a mystery why more cities aren’t utilising a cathedral setting for their markets like Exeter are. Based at Cathedral Green, the atmospheric Exeter Xmas markets run from 17th November to 17th December and are perfect for anyone craving great street food from local traders and wonderful seasonal entertainment. All this provided with a backdrop of stunning architecture and a festive atmosphere? Sign us up.
Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash.com
When: 17th November 2023 - 21st December 2023
Where: Winchester Cathedral, Winchester
Last but by no means least, we’ve got an underrated pick of the bunch. Sticking with Exeter’s trick of setting the markets in the city’s cathedral gardens, we round off our trip in Hampshire for the renowned Winchester Xmas markets.
From 17th November to 21st December, you can treat yourself to what is regarded as one of the finest Christmas markets in Europe thanks to Winchester’s authentic and traditional German markets. A visit to Winchester at Christmas time is almost like stepping back in time, where the sound of Christmas carols and the smell of mulled wine seeps through the air. These are classic Christmas markets that you won’t want to miss!
Christmas brings many cherished memories for us to look back on for years to come. It’s the perfect time to go out, have fun, and make memories with the family. So head out to some any of these Christmas markets to do just that.
Click or tap here to discover what events are on wherever you are this Christmas.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.