Home → LifeStyle→

Best Christmas Markets in the UK for a Jolly Good Time

Written by, Bojana Atanasovska

Updated December, 13, 2021

With Christmas around the corner, you’re probably looking for the perfect destination to get into the Christmas spirit? Perhaps enjoy the scents and tastes of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine? Or even shop for Christmassy trinkets for your friends and family.

Well, don’t you worry because our little helpers know where the magic is happening! In the paragraphs below, we’ll go over 10 of the best Christmas Markets in the UK that are simply brimming with festive joy!

Ready? Hold on for deer life cause our sleigh goes pretty fast!

UK’s Top Christmas Markets in 2021

When compiling our list of the best Christmas markets, we’ve focused on all the little miracles they evoke, making this time of the year even more magical. So let’s jump right in!

Bath Christmas Market

Where: Centre of Bath When: 1st November–31st December

This famous UK Christmas festival welcomes over 150 artisans each year under its iridescent lights. In addition, market-goers can enjoy the festive atmosphere in this iconic city by attending any or all of the following wonderful activities:

  • Visit the Bath on Ice Rink, Glow in the Dark Golf course, or the Alpine Lodge.
  • Marvel at the illuminated trail through Bath’s iconic landmarks.
  • Gape at Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon: the centrepiece of Bath’s Abbey.
  • Peruse the offering of artisan crafts in Queen Square and the Abbey Quarter.
  • Gobble the delicious festive food and drinks and enjoy various entertainment shows.

Note: Check the market’s official site for info about the starting and ending dates of the events.

As you wander Bath’s Christmas streets, you will chance upon a wide array of fantastic encounters, from festive stilt walkers to face painting and madrigal ensembles. What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than munching on delicious snacks while enjoying all-time favourite carols in one of the best Christmas markets in England.

Before you decide to go home, you can also purchase an artisanally-crafted present for yourself or your loved ones in the form of anything from reindeer-themed cosy socks to delectable preserves. Remember that since the physical Bath Christmas Market has been cancelled for 2021, you will have to do your shopping through the market’s virtual stalls.

Pro tip: Bring a reusable cup since the market organisers put sustainability first.

Winter Wonderland

Where: Hyde Park, London When: 19th November–3rd January

Hailed as London’s ultimate Christmas destination, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland does live up to its name by offering anything and everything festive and joyful to millions of visitors each year. The biggest London Christmas market, located in the heart of the capital, is returning in force in 2021 after the unfortunate cancellation the year before.

Since its humble beginnings 15 years ago, Winter Wonderland has grown into one of the must-visit Christmas market trips in the UK. Nowadays, it spreads the Christmas cheer for both Londoners and tourists with an extravaganza of activities and attractions such as ice skating rinks, ice sculpting workshops, roller coasters, live music, street food, a circus, and much more.

However, you will need a ticket to get into the Winter Wonderland in 2021 as a health and safety measure. The organisers have thought of everything: you can choose a date and time of entry, and add shows, games, and attractions to your ticket too! That way, you can enjoy the whole Christmas experience without compromising your safety.

You can make a whole day out of it too. Imagine exploring Hyde Park in the morning with your family before strolling to the Christmas fair. At night, you can sip on a cup of warm hot chocolate while gazing at the enchanting lights around. Have your very merry time any way you like before getting Christmas gifts for your friends and family from the 100 wooden chalets found within.

Pro tip: Since the market is next to the ice rink, take the Blue Gate entrance to head straight there.

Manchester Christmas Markets

Where: Across Manchester centre’s squares When: 12th November–22nd December

The city of Manchester is bringing back the best Christmas markets in the north-west with a bang after missing out in 2020 due to Covid-19. Officials are determined to reclaim the crown of the UK’s capital of Christmas in 2021 by offering an experience packed with festive delights across six of the city’s squares:

  • St Ann’s Square
  • New Cathedral Street
  • Exchange Square
  • Market Street
  • Cathedral Gardens
  • King Street

Regardless of your destination, you can experience anything from delicious street food to the jolly clamour of yuletide bars. However, the star of the 2021 Manchester Christmas show will be Piccadilly Gardens, renamed the Winter Gardens and transformed into the hub of the most miraculous Christmastime events since the first-ever UK Christmas market took place in 1999.

Manchester’s local Christmas fairs, especially the Winter Gardens, are UK’s top destination to try out the largest variety of international food and drinks, such as the traditional bratwurst, Spanish paella, Hungarian goulash, Greek gyros, as well as tasty vegetarian treats! How about warm cookie dough puddings for dessert and signature cocktails to wash down everything?

Pro tip: Avoid the weekends if you’re not a big fan of crowds, and always bring cash if you want to skip the ATM lines.

Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market

Where: Winchester Cathedral, Winchester When: 19th November–22nd December

The Christmas Market in Winchester is considered one of Europe’s absolute best due to its holy location, cherry-picked vendors, and wonderful atmosphere. While initially inspired by German Christmas markets, it has grown into one of the most unique and captivating Christmas market trips in the UK, enchanting with its festive colours, smells, and sounds.

After the market’s cancellation in 2020, officials have been striving for redemption. To illustrate, they’ve hand-picked over 110 chalets that will sell exceptional products of the highest quality: anything from tasty treats to trinkety gifts. These magic-riddled stalls will orbit Winchester’s Ice Rink—is there a better holiday playground?

While some activities and stalls are located outside of the Cathedral’s Inner Close, you reach the heart of the market through Curle’s passage. There, one of the best German markets in the UK welcomes visitors with a plethora of charming chalets offering all kinds of magical wares:

  • Clothes and accessories 
  • Arts and crafts
  • Charities
  • Festive decorations and homeware
  • Games and toys
  • Jewellery and other things
  • Food and drinks

Pro tips: Visit the market earlier in the day to avoid potential waiting lines due to Covid-19 precautions.

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market

Where: Victoria Square and New Street, Birmingham When: 4th November–23rd December

The pandemic stole the true holiday cheer in 2020, and for that reason, organisers of the biggest authentic Christmas market fair outside of the German-speaking countries have decked the halls to the brim for 2021. As a result, Birmingham natives and domestic and foreign visitors can yet again enjoy the festive aromas, sights, and sounds of a genuine Frankfurt market.

As one of the biggest German markets in the UK, Birmingham’s Christmas marketplace is packed with authentic gifts, food, and drinks.  After purchasing joyful trinkets for your loved ones, such as glassy baubles, wooden ornaments, handcrafted jewellery, and more, take your taste buds on a ride with a large variety of authentic Christmas foods and refreshments:

  • Pretzels
  • Bratwursts
  • Schnitzels
  • Stollen cake
  • Glühwein
  • Weissbier

Once you fill up your belly, the best thing to do is head over to the music shows in Victoria Square or simply meet up with friends to exchange holiday greetings and well wishes. To complement one of the most significant Christmas events of 2021, Centenary Square will also welcome back the Big Wheel and the Ice Rink, which were always fan favourites.

Pro tip: Birmingham tends to be a bit crowded during the Frankfurt Christmas Market, so we recommend taking the train and entering the Market at Rotunda Square.

Belfast Christmas Market

Where: Belfast City Hall When: 20th November–23rd December

Northern Ireland’s biggest Christmas market welcomes over 1 million visitors a year, and after its unfortunate 2020 cancellation, the market is set to return in all its festive glory this year. The City Hall will once again become the focus of Belfast life during Christmastime, where visitors can marvel at over 100 wooden chalets of domestic and international crafters.

This Christmas fun fair is set to recapture its past glory with an increased emphasis on visitor health and safety in 2021. However, the market operators say that you can still revel in the Christmas spirit, overindulge in tasty treats, and get the perfect gift in the heart of Belfast while following the essential pandemic protocols.

The Belfast Christmas Market will be celebrating international scents and tastes this year, with over 30 nationalities exhibiting unusual foods, drinks, and crafts from all over the world. You can grab anything from crepes to wild boar dishes, then sit on a bench in the food court with your friends and family and enjoy an extraordinary experience.

Families with kids will have a blast, too, since the organisers of this Christmas festival are bringing back the famed helter-skelter, an observation wheel, a carousel, the Santa train, and other slides and rides.

Pro tip: Try Rossi’s ice cream! 

Nottingham Christmas Market

Where: Old Market Square and Trinity Square, Nottingham When: 15th November–31st December

The Nottingham Christmas Market is back after a year-long hiatus due to the Covid-19 restrictions, and this year, it brings two years worth of fun! However, what exactly will Nottingham do to prove it’s one of the top Christmas market trips in the UK?

Well, despite fewer stalls to provide for social distancing, Nottingham is bringing back all the hits: a 32-metre observation wheel, the 60-foot Christmas tree, a traditional carousel, an Après Ski bar, various children’s rides, and much more.

The market’s chalets (around 40) will line up across Old Market Square, Long Row, and Smithy Row, and offer anything from delicious Christmassy foods and beverages to artisanally-crafted trinkets and ornaments.

Trinity Square is also joining the Christmas fun fair in 2021 as it’s hosting a unique Christmas village hidden behind a Christmas-tree entryway. This winter wonderland is the perfect resting stop while shopping. So grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine and have a merry respite in its garland-covered timber structures, glass igloos, or kissing stands.

Pro tip: Еnjoy a rich programme of activities and attractions around the Nottingham city centre.

Bristol Christmas Market

Where: Broadmead, Bristol When: 5th November–23rd December

Staged in Broadmead, right in the city’s centre, this Bristol destination is one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. There, you can find the perfect Christmas gifts or uniquely crafted items through one of over 50 shopping stalls. Then, you can fill your belly with anything from Bratwurst to churros, crepes, or other sweets.

If you get chilly, you can visit the famous Jäger Barn Bar, where you’ll find both heated seating and warm festive drinks. How about some mulled cider or decadent hot chocolate with a shot of Baileys? Regardless of your choice, you’ll have a fantastic time with your friends and family accompanied by live music and livelier conversation.

As for your young ones, The Bristol Christmas Market offers quite a wide range of attractions and activities to keep them entertained while the grown-ups are doing some wining and dining in Bristol’s very own igloo pods. So should you be looking for one of the best Christmas market trips in the UK, pass underneath the glittering lights of this Bristol fair.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to book an igloo pod. They’re in such high demand they are only available through 90-minute reservations.

Cardiff Christmas Market

Where: City Centre, Cardiff When: 11th November–23rd December

Wales’s biggest Christmas market takes place in Cardiff for most of November and December. Well, the city has officially set its Christmas market dates, and we’re ready for it! 

Also known as a CraftFolk event, Cardiff’s Christmas market has always put its talented artists and makers at the forefront of retailing, demonstrating their unique creations to the whole country. There, you can find anything and everything, including:

  • Silver bespoke jewellery
  • Wheel-thrown ceramics
  • Fused glassware
  • Handmade quilts and textiles
  • Pewter gifts
  • All forms of artwork

To cement its place as an outstanding Christmas fun fair, Cardiff’s offering includes over 200 businesses in its programme, all of which present new and innovative work each year. Even food and drink producers are invited to add to the holiday cheer and entice the tastebuds of visitors.

Pro tip: Freely chat with any artist or crafter about their work. Most of them even take commissions for special purposes.

The Essence of Christmas

Brits were left saddened when Christmas markets skipped a year in 2020 due to Covid-19. How would you feel if you’ve missed one of the best events in the season to be jolly? Thank the stars the Christmas spirit came through this year, with some of our favourite markets back on track!

We hope our list of the best Christmas Markets in the UK has provided you with a deeper insight into this marvellous tradition and excited you to visit one to have yourself a merry little time!

Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.