In the market for a festive shopping spree with a sprinkling of tradition?
Here we reveal the most marvellous Christmas markets in the UK, from Birmingham‘s ‘Frankfurt Christmas Market’, complete with gluhwein, to Cardiff’s artisanal wonderland…
Grab a cup of gluhwein (mulled wine) or weissbier (wheat beer), and tuck into pretzels, bratwurst and schnitzels at Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market
Birmingham is twinned with Frankfurt and — before the pandemic — the city’s ‘Frankfurt Christmas Market’ was the largest outside Germany, attracting 5 million visitors each year. Grab a cup of gluhwein (mulled wine) or weissbier (wheat beer), and tuck into pretzels, bratwurst and schnitzels. Stalls sell traditional toys, glass ornaments and jewellery.
There’s also an ice rink and Ferris wheel.
When: Now until December 23; 10am-9pm.
How to do it: Free entry (thebfcm.co.uk).
YULETIDE IN YORK
The St Nicholas Fair in York is held on Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square, and first began in 1992.
This year 68 festive alpine-style chalets will welcome visitors to this medieval city. Stalls will offer locally distilled gins, hand-made chocolates, jewellery and arts and crafts — alongside plenty of mulled wine and mince pies.
When: Now until December 23; Sunday-Thursday 10am-6pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-8pm.
How to do it: Free entry (visityork.org/events/york-christmas-market).
HYDE PARK BONANZA
Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park is home to the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, a 230ft-high Ferris wheel, and a ‘magical ice kingdom experience’
With more than 200 rides, shows, games and food and drink stalls, Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park is a biggie.
It’s home to the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, a 230 ft-high Ferris wheel, and a ‘magical ice kingdom experience’, with sorcerers, throne rooms, dragons, and snow slides. You can also look forward to a 1970s disco-themed ice bar, ice-sculpting workshops, an alpine-themed pop-up restaurant, and Zippos Christmas Circus.
When: Now until January 3; 10am–10pm.
How to do it: Off-peak (free), standard (£5), and peak (£7.50) timed-entry tickets (hydeparkwinterwonderland.com).
CHEERS IN CHESTER
At Chester Christmas market Santa will be on hand to help children with their wishes
More than 70 traditional wooden chalets offering gifts such as jewellery, clothing and toys in Town Hall Square opposite Chester Cathedral will be lit with Christmas lights. Santa’s on hand to help children with their wishes, of course — and there’s mulled wine for adults.
When: Now until December 22; 10.30am-6.30pm Sunday to Wednesday, and 10.30am–8pm Thursday to Saturday.
How to do it: Free entry (chester.com/listing/chester-christmas-market).
Winchester Christmas market is in the historic surroundings of Winchester Cathedral’s Inner Close and is another German-style market. This year it will host more than 100 chalets, offering local cheeses, beers, wines, cakes, arts and crafts, jewellery, pottery and children’s toys.
When: Now until December 22.
How to do it: Free entry (christmas.winchester-cathedral.org.uk).
STRATFORD ON STILTS
There are more than 300 stalls at the Stratford-upon-Avon Victorian Christmas Market
The Stratford-upon-Avon Victorian Christmas Market is held in the town centre with stall holders dressed in costumes. More than 300 stalls will offer gift ideas, and expect performances from musicians, dance groups and choirs on a stage in Henley Street. Stilt walkers will patrol the streets and there will be entertainment for kids.
When: December 9, 11am-8pm; December 10-11, 10am-8pm; December 12, 10am-5pm.
How to do it: Free entry (stratford.gov.uk).
The Manchester Christmas market is in Piccadilly Gardens and at a further ten locations. Manchester has more than 300 chalet stalls across the city. There are German, French and ‘world’ Christmas markets. So expect Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella and Belgian chocolates — plus products from each nation for stocking fillers.
When: Now until December 22.
How to do it: Free entry (visitmanchester.com).
Blenheim Palace Christmas Market is perfect for those wanting to avoid crowds as there will be a timed-entry system. The market is held in the palace’s grounds, where performances of The Nutcracker are shown. More than 70 food stalls offer festive treats.
When: Now until December 19, from 10am-8.30pm daily.
How to do it: Free to enter with a booked ticket, parking £10 after 10am (blenheimpalace.com).
BY A ROYAL MILE
Edinburgh’s Christmas market this year promises to be better than ever
Running for six weeks in East Princes Street Gardens in the heart of the city, Edinburgh’s Christmas market promises to be better than ever. Traders offer locally produced products, and expect plenty of shortbread.
When: Now until January 4.
How to do it: Free entry (edinburghschristmas.com).
MADE IN WALES
Cardiff’s Christmas market is running until December 23
Cardiff’s market stands out because it features independent artists and craftsmen. You will see how things are made, and get to take home goods crafted by hand.
When: Now until December 23.
How to do it: Free entry (cardiffchristmasmarket.com)
The Winter Market returns to the Queen’s Walk beside London’s Southbank Centre with alpine-style chalets, pop-up bars, street food stalls and ‘Snow Globes’ — glass-domed huts with private dining for up to six guests facing the Thames. Street stalls serve ‘gourmet cheese toasties’, truffle burgers, fondue, and mulled wine.
When: Now until December 23; Sunday to Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday to Saturday, 11am-11pm.
How to do it: Free entry (southbankcentre.co.uk).
BALLY GOOD SHOW
It’s a cheery welcome at Belfast’s City Hall for shoppers. As long as you’re jabbed, that is. You may be asked to prove your vaccination status before entry. Food from more than 32 countries is on offer, with paella from Spain, and Dutch pancakes.
When: Now until December 23.
How to do it: Free entry (belfastcity.gov.uk)