The 15 Best UK Christmas Markets in 2020
As a huge fan of Christmas, I might have visited one or two of the best UK Christmas markets (ok, and some of the best Christmas markets in the rest of Europe too). There’s really no better way to get into the festive spirit than meandering around the Christmas stalls and warming yourself up with a mug of mulled wine while listening to Christmas tunes.
Although the Christmas market tradition originated in Germany, they have grown in popularity and spread across Europe. Birmingham and Manchester Christmas markets are the largest Christmas markets in the UK and perhaps the most well known, but each of these 15 UK Christmas markets have something special to offer.
Prepare to get into the festive spirit yourself as you read all about where to see the best Christmas markets in the UK.
**Given that many of the Christmas markets in the UK have been cancelled in 2020, we have given some alternative suggestions for festive activities. Please double check the running of these as cancellations are occurring all the time**
Best UK Christmas Markets
Edinburgh Christmas Markets
The Edinburgh Christmas market has one of the most impressive backdrops of all of the UK Christmas markets and looks enchanting at night with Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street all lit up. It’s a huge market with the traditional Christmas stalls, Santa Land with fairground rides and a children’s market.
As well as the traditional Christmas gifts and food on sale, you’ll be able to try the less traditional mulled Irn Bru, unique to the Scottish Christmas markets.
The market stalls are traditionally located in East Princes Street Gardens, but the 2020 market will be spread across three different sites. There will be festive stalls in the Mound Precinct, George Street and Castle Street with traditional Scottish fayre as well as European. The main fairground rides will be on the upper level of East Princes Street Gardens.
Edinburgh Christmas Market Dates
21st November 2020 – 3rd January 2021 (THIS HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2020)
Manchester Christmas Markets
(Submitted by Jenni Fielding from CruiseMummy)
Manchester Christmas Market is the largest Christmas market in the UK, with over 300 beautifully decorated stalls and chalets spread across ten locations in the city.
The largest area of stalls can be found in Albert Square, which is next to the historic Town Hall. Visitors to the city can climb the 173 steps to the top of the tower to enjoy spectacular views over the market.
As well as the mouth-watering food and drink on offer and the traditional handmade Christmas gifts, there’s lots of entertainment for people of all ages to enjoy. This varies from year to year, but highlights of the markets tend to include fairground rides, LED light performers, magicians, an ice rink and street theatre performances.
Manchester Christmas Markets Dates
Albert Square – TBC
Cathedral Gardens – TBC
Piccadilly Gardens – TBC
Market Street – TBC
Exchange Square – TBC
New Cathedral Street – TBC
King Street – TBC
St Ann’s Square – TBC
Chatsworth Christmas Markets
(Submitted by Jenny from Peak District Kids)
A Peak District Christmas can make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Dickens novel; quaint limestone villages decorated in festive cheer, and a dusting of snow on the hilltops. But the heart of Christmas in the UK’s oldest National Park, is Chatsworth House.
Just outside the historical town of Bakewell, Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, is one of the grandest estates in the UK. And when it comes to Christmas, they pull out all the stops.
The Chatsworth Christmas Markets generally run from mid November to the beginning of December. Entry is free, but you do have to pay for parking. Visitors can browse over one hundred stalls offering a range of Christmas gifts and decorations, sample delicious treats, and enjoy a mulled wine at one of the outdoor bars.
Chatsworth Christmas Market Dates
7th November 2020 – 3rd January 2021 – THIS HAS JUST BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2020
Winchester Christmas Market
(Submitted by Cathy from MummyTravels)
Winchester’s Christmas Market must have one of the best locations in the whole UK, set right in the shadow of the historic Gothic cathedral – one of many reasons it was voted the best Christmas market in the UK in 2019. There’s nothing quite as festive as wandering around the grounds listening to carols being sung, drinking mulled wine, checking out the food and shopping for gifts and stocking fillers in its grounds.
With over 100 stallholders coming from France, Germany and even Belarus, as well as from across Britain, it’s a perfect place to find something a bit different from the usual items for sale including high-quality handmade goods. At the heart, there’s an ice rink, which it’s well worth prebooking as it’s always popular. The market usually runs from around mid-November until just before Christmas and there’s also a Nativity scene, although the focus here is on the stalls rather than other activities and attractions.
Winchester Christmas Market Dates
19th November – 22nd December 2020 (THIS HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2020)
York Christmas Markets
(Submitted by Sinead from Best in York Guide)
The Christmas market in the northern city of York is open seven days a week for the six weeks running up to Christmas. Over 100 wooden chalets line York’s shopper friendly pedestrianised streets selling unique local arts, crafts and produce.
There are lots of tempting free samples ranging from Yorkshire Gin to locally made fudge. Bands and festive buskers entertain shoppers day and night and the free to enter market is illuminated at night.
The centrepiece of York’s Christmas market is Thor’s Tipi. This expansive tipi is constructed specially for the market and offers weary shoppers the chance to relax on a sheepskin rug bench in front of a log fire whilst savouring a mulled wine, creamy hot chocolate or craft beer. Thor’s Tipi is impossible to resist!
The market is a short walk from York’s iconic sights such as York Minster, the medieval street The Shambles and the historic city walls.
York Christmas Market Dates
Belfast Christmas Market
(Submitted by Allan from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor )
In the heart of Belfast city centre is Northern Ireland’s largest winter continental market at Belfast City Hall. Belfast Christmas market is set between the prestigious grounds of Belfast’s central monuments and the city hall is as a huge tourist attraction itself with free daily tours and exhibitions in the historic buildings.
Like Belfast, the market may not compare in size to the bigger cities of the U.K. but it is well planned, concise, and has everything there to excite everyone. Central to the market are the heated beer tents to put back some steins while snacking from the surrounding stalls like the hog roast, seasonal continental sausages, mulled wine, and just all sorts of candies and sweets.
Then, for the kids, there are festive rides, a marshmallow toasting stall, and, of course, Santa’s Grotto. Belfast is also the 3rd cheapest city of 69 in Britain when it comes to local events, eating and entertainment.
Belfast Christmas Market Dates
16th November to 22nd December 2020
Bournemouth Christmas Market
(Submitted by Angela from ExploringDorset)
Bournemouth Christmas Market is traditionally home to the famous Christmas Tree Wonderland running through the Winter Gardens but this has been put on hold for 2020. This year you’ll find popular Alpine market stalls which are located in the town centre selling gifts and plenty of amazing food and drink options.
You can enjoy the lit up trees from the open air ice rink which also operates during the Winter months in Bournemouth.
For families visiting the Christmas market, you may also want to incorporate a visit to Santa in your visit, and perhaps enjoy the local pantomime which happens in the Bournemouth Pavillion nearby. You won’t be short of things to do visiting Bournemouth near Christmas.
Bournemouth Christmas Market Dates
13th November 2020 to 3rd January 2021 (daily excluding Christmas Day)
Exeter Christmas Market
(Submitted by Claire from DevonWithKids)
This atmospheric market takes place on Cathedral Green in the shadow of Exeter’s 1,000 year old Gothic cathedral. Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market has been inspired by German Christmas markets so you will always find hand-crafted gifts, Bavarian style bars, and food stalls selling bratwurst and hog roasts. Of course you can also pick up a mug of mulled cider – this is the West Country after all.
As well as the market there’s a life-sized nativity scene and giant glittering star hanging above the main square. The market is at the heart of the city centre which makes it easy to dip into the high street stores of Princesshay shopping centre and the independent retailers of Fore Street and Gandy Street.
The market takes place over 30 days from mid-November and is accompanied by a programme of festive entertainment including carol singers and live music into the evenings.
Exeter Christmas Market Dates
Nottingham Christmas Market
(Submitted by Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go! )
Nottingham Christmas market, just off the Old Market Square in the centre of Nottingham, has a fantastic traditional European vibe. There are over 70 Bavarian style market stalls featuring traditional handcrafted Christmas gifts, decorations and treats from different sellers it is ideal to pick up any last-minute Christmas presents.
The Christmas market with the twinkly Christmas lights and beautiful decorations overhead is just one part of Nottingham Winter Wonderland. The largest Christmas event in the East Midlands also features an outdoor ice skating rink, Santa’s grotto and various traditional fairground rides.
There’s live music on certain nights and a magical Alpine Ice Bar, where fur coats and gloves are provided and the drinks are served in glasses made from ice. Nottingham Christmas Market is ideal for a day trip or a Christmas getaway in the UK.
Nottingham Christmas Market Dates
14th November to 31st December 2020
Stratford-upon-Avon Victorian Christmas Market
As you would expect from such a historic town, the Stratford-upon-Avon Christmas market has a twist. This Christmas market has a Victorian theme with each of the stallholders dressed in Victorian costume.
There are over 200 stalls lining the historic streets of Stratford selling Christmas goodies along with some traditional fairground rides. And of course, being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, it has a programme of performances to keep everyone entertained.
Stratford-upon-Avon Christmas Market Dates
This event has been cancelled for 2020
Leeds Christmas Markets
(Submitted by Colette from GoingOnAnAdventure)
Leeds Christmas Market is a traditional German market, based in Millennium Square at the top end of Leeds city centre. Tucked away from the main shopping areas, it is perfect for a festive mulled wine or two after you’ve finished your Christmas shopping in the city!
The Leeds Christmas Markets are much smaller than some of the other UK markets (eg Manchester or Birmingham) and they haven’t really seen much expansion over the last decade but I love that everything is more compact making it easier to visit with children.
With a traditional merry go round, snow globe and Santa’s grotto – it’s a lovely place to pass an hour or two with family and friends. If you’re looking for more fairground rides, why not take a wander down towards the Town Hall?
Leeds Christmas Market Dates
This event has been cancelled for 2020
Birmingham Christmas Markets
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas market is the largest authentic German Christmas market in the UK with over 180 stalls spread across Victoria Square, New Street and Centenary Square. There’s traditional German food such as Stollen (German Christmas cake), Bratwurst, German beer and Gluhwein (a warm red wine flavoured with spices).
You’ll also find live music on Victoria Square and fairground rides as well as an ice rink and a big wheel.
Birmingham Christmas Market Dates
This event has been cancelled for 2020
Bath Christmas Markets
Bath Christmas market is a sustainable Christmas market with over 150 stalls spread around the Georgian streets surrounding the picture perfect Bath Abbey. This World Heritage Site setting couldn’t be more perfect.
The market stalls are filled with high quality Christmas themed artisan arts and crafts mainly from the local region and festive food.
The market may have been cancelled for 2020 but there are still events planned for the run-up to Christmas so keep an eye on their website.
Bath Christmas Market Dates
This event has been cancelled for 2020
London Winter Wonderland
(Submitted by Mansoureh from Travel with Mansoureh)
With its unique location in Hyde Park in the heart of London, Winter Wonderland Christmas market is regarded as one of the UK’s best Christmas fairs, which attracts millions of visitors from all over the world every year.
Winter Wonderland usually takes place for 6 weeks from late November until January and it’s open from 10 am to 10 pm. It offers some of the most magical moments with 100 spectacular rides and attractions, comedic shows, London’s largest ice rink, themed bars and food stalls.
Visitors of all ages can find various attractions, activities and fun things to do here. It is free to visit Winter Wonderland and you can roam around the market, but for most of the attractions and rides, you will need to buy a ticket. Make sure to try some hot chocolate, mulled wine, hot dogs or Bavarian beer while at the market.
London Winter Wonderland Christmas Market Dates
This event is cancelled for 2020
Other London Christmas Markets
Christmas by the River – 24th November 2020 – 3rd January 2021
Southbank Centre Winter Market – 2020 dates to be released
Christmas in Leicester Square – 2020 dates to be released
Greenwich Christmas Market – 2020 dates to be released
Winterville on Clapham Common – cancelled for 2020
Kingston Christmas Market – 2020 dates to be released
Lincoln Christmas Market
(Submitted by Mandi from GreatYarmouthFamilyFun)
Lincoln Christmas Market takes place every year over three days, located next to the stunning Lincoln Cathedral, which makes the perfect backdrop for this event.
The market comprises of various craft stalls which are perfect for Christmas gifts, food and drink offerings and children’s fairground rides. It is well set out and easy for families to navigate their way round, even with a pushchair, although it is very popular and gets quite busy. If you wish to avoid the crowds, go at the start of the day when it’s less busy.
It has an amazing atmosphere and is very well organised with nearly 300 stalls, some of which are inside marquees so it is possible to visit even if the weather isn’t too great.
The easiest way to get to there is via the Park and Ride at the Lincolnshire Showground. It is a 10-15 minutes bus ride, which adds to the experience of visiting.
Lincoln Christmas Market Dates
This event has been cancelled for 2020
Other Christmas markets worth visiting
Waddesdon Manor Christmas market (14th November to 23rd December 2020)
Oxford Christmas market (3rd to 20th December 2020)
Cambridge Christmas market (10th to 13th December 2020)
Cardiff Christmas market (12th November to 23rd December 2020)
Glasgow Christmas market (TBC)
Chester Christmas market (TBC)
Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre (Cancelled for 2020)
Leeds Castle Christmas market (Cancelled for 2020)
Christmas light shows…
If you like Christmas lights, why not try one of the many illuminated trails?
Christmas at Kew – 18th November 2020 to 3rd January 2021
Blemheim Palace Illuminated Light Trail – 20th November 2020 to 3rd January 2021
Christmas at the Botanics in Edinburgh – 26th November 2020 – 3rd January 2021
Christmas at Stourhead – 27th November – 3rd January 2021
Castle Howard – 28th November – 31st December 2020
Christmas at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham
Glow in the Dark Mini Golf in Bath
The Lanterns at Chester Zoo – 13th to 23rd December 2020
Lincoln Castle Christmas Emporium – 14th to 22nd December 2020
Thursford Enchanted Journey of Light – 19th November to 3rd January 2021