Christmas market breaks have become an extremely popular way of enjoying the festive period, allowing staycationers to explore different cities, picking up a few special treats for their loved ones along the way.
Where are the best Christmas markets in the UK?
Why rush things?
The UK’s Christmas markets seem to get bigger and better every year, so if you absolutely love the build up to the festive season, why not make a weekend of it?
Each city offers something different, with the many iconic landmarks, squares and streets being completely transformed into Bratwurst and mulled wine-laden winter wonderlands.
To help you decide on where to go on your Christmas market break this year, here is a list of the UK’s best Yuletide markets.
As one of the UK’s largest Christmas markets, Manchester offers a huge choice of festive treats to shoppers. The market takes place in a variety of locations in the very heart of the city, including Albert Square, Exchange Square and Cathedral Gardens; with each offering a different experience to visitors.
More than 300 stalls in Alpine chalets are set up each year, offering a range of goods, foods and drink from all over Europe. The market also offers plenty of places to relax and socialise – perfect for anyone enjoying a few days in the city – giving you the chance to sample beers, wines and cuisine from right across the continent.
The European Christmas Market has been taking place in the Scottish capital for more than 20 years. Held in the centre of this historic city, the markets stretch out from The Mound along East Prince’s Street Gardens Terrace and up to the Scott Monument.
This makes the Edinburgh Christmas Markets the perfect place to go on a Christmas break, especially for some festive shopping, or for those looking for a bit of culture in the Scottish capital. The market offers everything from arts and crafts to European food and drink with something for the whole family to enjoy.
The largest German market held outside Germany and Austria, the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham allows visitors and shoppers to soak up the festive atmosphere in the beautifully decorated Victoria and Centenary Square areas of the city, while enjoying the best of Bavarian food, drink and crafts.
There is also an immensely popular arts event held in Chamberlain Square, so make sure you take a walk with your Gluhwein!
Widely regarded as one of the very best Christmas markets in the UK, more than 200 stalls line the historic streets around the Roman Baths and the Abbey in Bath each year. One of the characteristics that makes the Bath Christmas Markets stand out is that nearly all of the items available are produced by local traders, or are made in the area.
Visitors can turn this into a genuine Christmas market break by spending a few days in the city taking part in activities such as ice skating or exploring the historic city at your leisure.
We can’t talk about historic cathedral cities without mentioning York. With an array of different Christmas markets taking place in the city throughout the festive period, there are plenty of opportunities for you to have a walk around, picking up locally produced foods and drink along the way.
The most famous of the Christmas markets in York is the St Nicholas Fayre with its Victorian theme and an abundance of traditional foods, including roasted chestnuts. There is also the medieval market held in the ancient part of the city if you’re coming for a few days to experience the full Yorvik experience.
Another historic city with a beautiful cathedral, the whole of the Lincoln Christmas Market is set in and around the cobbled grounds of the Castle and Cathedral, making for a truly spectacular setting.
The city itself is beautiful enough but all of the smells from the food vendors and the festive stalls, combined with the decorations around the medieval square and Norman Castle make this an event that is not to be missed.
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Cathedral cities are perfect for Christmas markets with their spectacular backdrops and Exeter is no exception to the rule. Exeter Christmas Market is located on Cathedral Green and offers an array of local traders, as well as produce and gifts from the continent, all set in the fabulous grounds of the imposing cathedral.
Enhance your Christmas market break in Devon by staying in one of our cottages.
Winter Wonderland, which takes place each year in the glorious setting of Hyde Park, attracts thousands of people from all over the UK with its famous ice rink and a range of attractions aimed at the whole family.
For a more traditional festive market, however, it’s worth paying a visit to the Southbank Centre Christmas Market, which offers everything from mead to sheepskin rugs and traditional wreaths to hang on your door this Christmas. Of course, there’s no reason why you couldn’t visit them both, and any of the other traditional Christmas markets being held in the capital this year as part of a Christmas break in London.
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The city’s Christmas markets take place within the famous grounds and colleges of Oxford University, giving visitors the opportunity to explore an area that they may not get to see otherwise.
The history of the University and its stunning buildings provide the perfect backdrop for one of the best Christmas markets in the UK, with an abundance of food, drink, gifts, arts and crafts on offer. There are also a number of different bands and singers performing live throughout the festive period.
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The Craft Folk Cardiff Christmas Market is a traditional Welsh celebration located in the heart of the shopping district. With plenty of Welsh arts and crafts on show, you’ll be able to pick up plenty of unique items as well as being able to sample a whole host of different foods and drinks.
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One of the most beautiful but relatively undiscovered cities in the UK, Winchester’s Christmas markets are traditional and medieval-themed, with around 100 wooden chalets filled with craft items, clothing, jewellery, toys and – of course – plenty of food and drink with some delicious German offerings, too.
The whole market is held within Cathedral Close in the shadow of the beautiful cathedral, but there are also plenty of stalls and activities in the centre of town, making this an ideal city to explore at your own pace.
Not as well-known as the likes of Manchester, Edinburgh or Bath, but a Christmas market that will let you see a different side to Cornwall. Far from just a coastal county filled with tourists during the summer months, the Truro Winter Gift Fayre brings the magic of the season down to the South West.
With plenty of festive treats, gifts and locally crafted presents to pick up, it’s the ideal time to pay a visit to Cornwall for a different kind of Christmas market break in the UK.
Have a look at Christmas breaks in Cornwall.
When do the Christmas markets start in the UK?
Each of the Christmas markets in the UK start and end at different times, meaning you can even visit more than one if you wish! Most of them end in the days leading up to Christmas Eve, however some continue into the New Year, allowing you to prolong your festive celebrations.
Here are the key dates for the 2018 Christmas markets:
- Manchester: 9th November – 23rd December
- Edinburgh: 16th November – 5th January
- Birmingham: 15th November – 23rd December
- Bath: 22nd November – 9th December
- York: 15th November – 23rd December
- Lincoln: 6th December – 9th December
- Exeter: 15th November – 16th December
- London (Winter Wonderland): 22nd November – 6th January
- London (Southbank Centre Festival): 9th December – 27th December
- Oxford: 7th December – 22nd December
- Cardiff: 15th November – 23rd December
- Winchester: 17th November – 20th December
- Truro: 12th December – 20th December
Ready to get into the festive spirit? Book a Christmas break with cottages.com today.