Looking for the best Christmas markets in the United Kingdom? You’ve come to the right place!
With the UK encompassing the gorgeous destinations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, you can bet there are plenty of magical Christmas markets to discover in this relatively small piece of the globe.
As a bonus, the UK is also home to a rich history, meaning many Christmas markets are held in beautiful and historic locations – from cathedrals to palaces, gardens and city centres.
So, from the wonders of Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market to the magic of Birmingham’s Christmas Markets, here are our top picks for UK Christmas markets.
NOTE: Most of these destinations have multiple Christmas markets to choose from, but if you’re in town, we figure you’ll probably be visiting them all anyway! So, just know when we say “Best Christmas Markets UK”, what we’re really talking about are the Best Places to Visit for Christmas Markets in the UK. Enjoy!
Bath Christmas Market
Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK, with Roman and Georgian architecture making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From the end of November until the middle of December it also hosts one of the top Christmas markets in the UK, with stalls throughout the city and a focus on goods from the southwest region. This makes it a great place to shop for gifts you might not otherwise find elsewhere!
The market stalls look all the more enchanting with the spectacular backdrop of Bath Cathedral and there are a number of fun Christmassy activities for visitors to enjoy as well – like the ice skating rink and glow golf illuminated by Christmas lights.
For more information, visit our full Bath Christmas Market guide
Birmingham Christmas Markets
Birmingham is home to one of the most unique Xmas markets in the UK, the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market which brings a traditional German Advent market to the United Kingdom.
Not only does this Christmas market feature almost 200 traditional stalls selling gifts and food but it also runs from the beginning of November until around December 23rd, so you have plenty of time to visit!
Along with the traditional German-style market, there’s also another Christmas market held in Cathedral Square (which focuses on local goods), a giant Ferris Wheel in the middle of the city and an ice skating rink complete with its own bar.
For more information, visit our full Birmingham Christmas Markets guide
Edinburgh Christmas Market
Edinburgh’s Christmas festivities are particularly delightful as they mainly take place in the beautiful Princes Street Gardens underneath the stunning Edinburgh Castle.
Traditional chalets selling fun gifts as well as food and drink are set up in the gardens, with a Big Wheel if you want to see the markets from above, while an ice skating rink is located in nearby George Street. In the lead-up to Christmas and New Year (which features a huge Hogmanay street party in Edinburgh) there are also many fun rides lining Market Street.
The Royal Mile is always worth a visit as well and during the festive season, you can be sure to spot buskers and special art displays as you do some more Christmas shopping!
Belfast Christmas Markets
The capital city of Northern Ireland is home to a number of Christmas Markets to enjoy during the festive season, making Belfast a great destination at Christmas.
The main Belfast Christmas market is held in the City Hall Gardens from the end of November until just before Christmas, although there is also a St George’s Market Christmas Craft Fair, the Christmas Cracker at Rowallane Garden and the Hillsborough Christmas Market, all of which take place in December.
One of the best aspects of Belfast’s Christmas markets is the wide variety of cuisine on offer, the food court is home to cuisines from over 32 nationalities from across the world, selling everything from crepes to ostrich, wild boar, and crocodile burgers!
There are also plenty of fun rides for children making Belfast an excellent option for families looking for some festive fun.
Cardiff Christmas Market
If you’re going to be in Wales between early November and the day before Christmas Eve then you must make a trip to Cardiff to experience their Christmas Market.
Cardiff’s Christmas Market has been running for more than 30 years and the stalls here focus on high-quality, original goods from a variety of artisans and makers. This is a great choice if you are looking for beautiful gifts, with options for purchasing bespoke silver jewellery, wooden-turned gifts, original artwork, beautiful fused glass, hand-thrown ceramics, handmade quilts and textiles – plus more!
This market takes place on the main shopping pedestrian areas in Cardiff, amongst a lovely festive atmosphere with plenty of seasonal food and drink to make your mouth water as you explore.
Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market
The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market takes place (unsurprisingly!) in the shadow of the famous Winchester Cathedral and it’s one of the coziest Christmas markets in England.
More than a hundred stalls are located within the inner close of Winchester Cathedral, while there’s also a food court in the middle of this area with plenty of delicious treats to keep you going while you shop.
There are also musical performances held within the cathedral proper, and the whole town is so beautifully decorated for the season that you will be feeling festive as soon as you arrive! The market also runs for almost a whole month, from late November until just before Christmas.
For more information, visit our full Winchester Christmas Market guide
Rochester Christmas Market
Another UK Christmas market with a stunning background is the one in Rochester, which takes place in the shadow of the 12th-century Rochester Castle.
Rochester Christmas Market is held within the gardens of Rochester Castle, with numerous stalls, a Bavarian village offering yummy food and drink, a covered craft market and even fairground rides for children.
This market is only held over three weekends, usually the last one in November and the first two in December, so you will need to carefully time your visit if you want to experience this magical market!
Manchester Christmas Market
The city of Manchester is a fantastic destination for festive fun with a massive Christmas market that runs from mid-November right up until just before Christmas.
More than 200 stalls are set up throughout the city centre, selling every kind of beautiful gift or delicious treat you could imagine. Along with shopping opportunities, the city also provides an undercover ice skating rink in the Cathedral gardens, a Christmas lights trail and plenty of live music, puppets and other entertainment popping up all over the place.
Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens are also transformed into the Winter Garden, with more stalls, bars for the over 18s, live music, DJs and a four-metre-high Christmas Manchester Windmill.
For more information, visit our full Manchester Christmas Market guide
Nottingham Christmas Markets
Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland is the most well-known Christmas Market/event held each year in the city, although it’s not the only festive offering to experience.
At the Nottingham Winter Wonderland event, the city’s market square is transformed with an elevated ice skating rink located around the outside of sixty different market stalls for purchasing gifts, snacks and drinks. There’s also an observation wheel if you want to see everything from above!
Along with the Winter Wonderland, Nottingham hosts a Winter Village at Trinity Square with stalls as well as igloos and huts for a cosy drink in between shopping.
For more information, visit our full Nottingham Christmas Markets guide
York Christmas Market
The historic city of York holds one of the best UK Christmas markets, the York St Nicholas Fair, which has won multiple awards for being so big and beautiful!
York is famous for its narrow winding streets and these are delightfully decorated during the festive season which just makes the whole thing even more magical. During the market, more than 100 alpine chalets are scattered throughout the city, offering many unique gift ideas.
There are also plenty of excellent shops (and museums) in York if you are on a mission to get the best Christmas gift ever. Head to the traditional Swiss chalet The Winter Hütte for a break with some delicious Swiss cuisine or gluhwein to warm up again.
For more information, visit our full York Christmas Market guide
Glasgow Christmas Markets
There are two main Christmas markets to check out when visiting Glasgow during the festive season, one on George Square and the other at St Enoch Square.
Both of these Christmas markets run until the first week of January too, which means you can still experience the festivities when Christmas is officially over!
The Christmas Fair at George Square opens on the 1st of December, with plenty of covered stalls selling gifts as well as an ice skating rink, a traditional Victorian carousel, a helter-skelter, an observation wheel and lots of live entertainment from carollers to dancers.
The Christmas Fair at St Enoch Square opens in mid-November and also provides shopping opportunities along with some very delicious treats and even more exciting rides. Here you can try out The Blizzard, an immersive attraction where riders fly through the sky, or even climb on an ice wall!
Blenheim Palace Christmas Market
Blenheim Palace was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and each year it is also the location of a magical UK Christmas market.
During the Blenheim Palace Christmas Market, not only are there around 70 wooden chalets in the palace’s grand court, but when the sun goes down the exterior walls of the palace are illuminated with a moving light show set to music!
The palace interior is just as incredible, with a different stunning festive theme for the decorations each year. Head back outside to experience a festive light trail in the palace gardens but make sure you book early as it sells out quickly.
This market runs for a whole month from mid-November to mid-December and is one of the most wonderful Christmas destinations in the UK. Make sure to order yourself some loaded Christmas dinner fries from the market while you’re there and thank me later!
Honourable Mention: London
While London may not be the best place for Christmas markets per se, it is still an incredible festive destination and perhaps the best place to spend Christmas in the UK – especially if you want to visit lots of other market destinations nearby!
There are a variety of Christmas markets held throughout London, like the Covent Garden Christmas Village, Christmas by the River at London Bridge City as well as Christmas markets in Greenwich and Leicester Square. The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland also has plenty of stalls for shopping along with lots of fun rides and places to eat or drink.
… but honestly, the Christmas markets in London are fairly small and limited in gift selection compared to many other Christmas markets in Europe. Instead, we find the main appeal of London at Christmas to be the festive decorations and lights which light up the city in truly spectacular fashion.
Of course, if you’re staying in London (and have the time) then you’re ideally situated to get the train to some of the other Christmas markets we’ve mentioned in this guide… which is why we still consider the English capital to be one of the top festive destinations to visit in the UK.
For more information, visit our full London Christmas Markets guide
Did we miss any of your favorite UK Christmas markets?
Let us know in the comments so we can update our list!