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.

Visiting a Christmas market is now one of the things we love to do at Christmas with the kids. It has become tradition to pick a beautiful, hand-crafted Christmas tree decoration each year.

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. If all of them are cancelled, check out this post for details on a virtual Christmas market and other virtual Christmas events**

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 is one of the best UK cities to visit at Christmas with kids. We love it!

Edinburgh Christmas Market Dates

21st November 2020 –  3rd January 2021 (THIS HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2020)

Edinburgh Christmas Market in Edinburgh, one of the best UK Christmas markets

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Other things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas…

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

CANCELLED FOR 2020

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

Manchester Christmas markets

Manchester Christmas markets

Other things to do in Manchester at Christmas…

  • The Ice Village is a great alternative offering some Christmas market stalls along with ice carvings, ice caves, ice skating and a Santa’s Grotto
  • Lightopia is a lantern and light festival at Heaton Park
  • Watch Aladdin at the Opera House Manchester

Chatsworth Christmas Markets

(Submitted by Jenny from Peak District Kids)

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 and is one of the best things to do in the Peak District with kids. 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

Chatsworth Christmas market

Chatsworth Christmas market

Other things to do near Chatsworth House at Christmas…

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)

Christmas stalls next to Winchester Cathedral

Christmas stalls next to Winchester Cathedral

Other things to do in Winchester at Christmas…

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. It is one of the best UK Christmas markets if you are looking for a historical setting.

York Christmas Market Dates

THIS HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2020 – SEE HERE FOR THE VIRTUAL EVENT

York Christmas market

York Christmas market

Other things to do in York at Christmas…