10 of the best Christmas markets to visit this year


young couple in winter clothing have hot drinks in a Christmas market

The festive season is just around the corner and, after the year we’ve had, you may be itching to get yourself into the Christmas spirit. Luckily, with the world slowly returning to what feels like normality, a visit to your local Christmas market may be just what you need.

So, here are 10 of the best UK Christmas markets to visit this winter.

1. Frankfurt Christmas Market – Birmingham

Birmingham’s iconic German market returns this year with a bang. Attracting an estimated 5 million visitors each year, the Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest German market in Europe outside of Germany and Austria, and it’s completely free to enter.

This year, the market is expected to see the return of more than 80 stalls across the high street, selling everything from hand-crafted jewellery to Christmas decorations and German cuisine. If you fancy something a little different, an ostrich burger stand has been known to appear in the past!

With a Ferris wheel, ice skating, and the new “Snowman Sculpture Trail” surrounded by dazzling lights and decorations, this year’s Birmingham market is not one you want to miss.

2. Winter Wonderland – Hyde Park, London

You can’t write a list of the best Christmas markets without mentioning Winter Wonderland. For some, the arrival of Winter Wonderland represents the arrival of the Christmas period. Ice skating, roller coasters, ice sculpting, fairground games, and even an ice bar; Winter Wonderland has it all.

This year, Winter Wonderland is operating from 19 November to 3 January on a pre-booking system only, so make sure to get in early if you’re planning on going for a specific date. If you spend £20 on attractions, rides, games, and food in your order, you will receive free entry.

3. Edinburgh’s Christmas

Edinburgh’s scenic Christmas market is returning and looking to make up for lost time. This year, Edinburgh’s Christmas is arriving fully loaded with an ice rink, Ferris wheel, seasonal rides, and a new Santa’s Grotto with Christmas tree maze, all against the backdrop of the stunning Edinburgh Castle.

Tickets for Edinburgh’s Christmas’ rides and attractions are on sale now, and those with an “EH” postcode will get a 20% discount. The organisers are even including sensory packs for visitors of all ages who may have additional needs.

4. Manchester Christmas Markets

One for the foodie, the Manchester Christmas Markets spread all around the city centre, from Piccadilly Gardens to St Ann’s Square and New Cathedral Street.

Eight distinct markets will spring up across the city, each with their own unique stalls, including a long list of eateries inspired by locations all around the world.

Stunning decorations and lights spread across the busy streets, making Manchester one of the busiest and most scenic markets to visit across the country.

5. St Nicholas Fair – York

The St Nicholas Fair in York returns this year with the market’s classic alpine chalets lining Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square. Get your fill or stocking fillers, decorations, mulled wine, and mince pies while admiring the architecture that York city centre has to offer.

Younger families may also enjoy the lovely vintage carousel in King Square, while those who prefer a later night will be satisfied too, since the market doesn’t close its doors until 10pm.

6. Belfast Continental Christmas Market

Set up on the grounds of the historic city hall, the Belfast Continental Christmas Market brings with it a mix of local and international cuisine and crafts from all over Europe. The market has over 100 chalets representing 30 different countries, with dedicated bars and a variety of food options.

In 2019, the market attracted over 1.2 million visitors and, with many looking to make up for lost time last year, it could be even busier this year.

7. Cardiff Christmas Market

Established more than 20 years ago, the Cardiff Christmas Market puts artists first, supporting those who have been hit hard by the pandemic. Active demonstrations are encouraged, allowing the more than 200 businesses taking part to show off their wares and creations for passing shoppers.

If you’re looking for something locally made and want to support British creatives after a tough year, Cardiff might be the place to be. And don’t worry, the market is always supported by plenty of stalls with seasonal food and drink just in time for the holidays.

8. Southbank Winter Market – Waterloo, London

With festive stalls on one side and the Thames on the other, there are few better places to take an evening stroll than through the Southbank Winter Market. Enjoy the beautiful views of Westminster and Big Ben over the river while sipping on a hot chocolate and browsing handmade decorations.

A buzzing atmosphere goes hand-in-hand with the decorations hung all the way along the promenade. Plus, internationally inspired food and drink stalls run parallel to the river to help settle any cravings you may be having.

9. Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market

Exeter’s Christmas market, set on the grounds of the city’s cathedral, will be welcoming 90 traders, including food vendors and jewellery crafters, with a brand-new layout.

Though the market takes place outside, the entry fee for the cathedral itself has been waived until the end of the market period, giving you the opportunity to go sightseeing.

They will also be welcoming a miniature train service known as the “Elf Express” from the Exmouth Miniature Railway, which can be paid for on the day. Entrance to the market is free!

10. Brighton Christmas Festival

Free to enter with ticketed live shows and attractions along the sunny south coast, the Brighton Christmas Festival takes place at various locations across the city. The main hub of the event starts at the stunning, 18th century Royal Pavilion and runs right the way to St Peter’s Church.

Festively designed and beautifully lit wooden chalets will fill Victoria Gardens, offering plenty of choice for all your Christmas needs. There will be a resting and quiet area for those who need it, and the event is set to round off on New Year’s Eve with a special finale event.