The Very Best Of The UK’s Christmas Markets: When And Where
There is no better antidote to not feeling festive than visiting a Christmas Market. Even if you are not in the mood for shopping, wandering around decorated huts, listening to Christmas songs and sipping mulled wine are guaranteed to spark a festive glow in even the most cynical. But if you are not yet in the festive spirit… Let’s get you sorted.
With Christmas just weeks away, many of us have already started buying presents for friends and family. The most organised of us have even planned festive nights and days out. Whilst the UK perhaps isn’t as famous for its Christmas markets as other regions of Europe, there’s still plenty of spots where the continent comes to us and offers a little treat each winter. Whilst we’re still a few days away from the opening of most markets, we wanted to let you know where the best ones are, so you have a chance to book a couple of nights away and do it in style.
An even bigger Christmas market returns to Belfast City Hall this year. As well as all the usual stalls and attractions, Santa will make an early journey from Lapland to take residency in his Belfast Grotto. This market also has a reputation for offering a particularly vast range of continental foods and gift stalls, not to mention Northern Irish treats. You know what they say about the Northern Irish and partying… Get ready to do some Irish dancing!
When: 18th November – 23rd December
Times: Mon to Wed 3pm – 6pm; Thu to Fri 2pm – 7pm; Sat 11am – 7pm; Sun 12noon – 6pm
More information: Belfast Christmas Market
Source: New Europe Tours
If you are looking for the very best markets North of the border, then Edinburgh is your dream come true. The Scottish capital has plenty to offer over the Christmas period with several markets and events taking place all around the city. Visitors will enjoy a wide range of treats including traditional eats (German sausages, haggis), ice skating, fairground rides and a wealth of live performances, Edinburgh almost treats Christmas as its second fringe festival! This year, both the European and the Scottish markets will take place in the same place, bringing over 130 stalls to East Princes Street Gardens.
When: 18th November – 6th January 2018
Times: 10am – 10pm (different opening times on the 18th Nov, 24th, 25th and 26th Dec as well as 1st Jan)
More information: Edinburgh’s Christmas
One of the UK’s longest running festive markets, the award winning Manchester Christmas Market is widely regarded as the best in the North of England. Unlike Birmingham, which is heralded for its authentic German feel, Manchester embraces a more international approach, with food and gifts from all corners of the globe as well as traditional English treats on sale. Spread over several streets and home to over 300 stalls, its main hub is in Albert Square in the heart of the city. While the market is of huge scope, there is no need to worry about finding your way, as maps are available in all locations and a suggested walking trail makes sure you don’t miss a thing.
When: 10th November – 20th December
Times: 10am – 9pm
More information: Manchester Christmas Market
Source: Edge Magazine
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria, boasting over 120 stalls offering Christmas gifts, authentic German cuisine and mulled wine. If that wasn’t enough, it happens in conjunction with the Christmas Craft Market. Together, the two markets bring over 180 stalls of Christmas goodness to Birmingham. As well as plenty of shopping, there is also an ice rink and live music. They really are as spectacular as they sound and you will find them spread across Victoria, Chamberlain and Centenary Squares as well as the nearby streets as far as New Street.
When: 17th November – 24th December
Times: 10am – 9pm
More information: Birmingham German Christmas Market
Source: Gisela Graham
Britain’s capital is home to a number of Christmas attractions during the festive period, there really is something for everyone in London! If you are looking for a more traditional Christmas market then perhaps take a stroll along the Southbank Centre Wintertime Market which offers more mulled wine, crepes, toys, sweets and German sausages than you can shake a stick at.
If the thought of one of London’s most elegant districts transformed into a winter wonderland appeals to you, pay Belgravia Christmas Sunday a visit on the 3rd of December. Whilst only a one day affair, Elizabeth Street will welcome a pop-up market selling a wide range of seasonal food, drinks and gifts as well as hosting children’s entertainment, choirs and brass band performances.
Now, if what you are after is a high adrenaline Christmas full of attractions, then you must head to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. A long-standing London favourite, this attraction is home to… (take a deep breath here) an ice skating ring, The Magical Ice Kingdom and Bar Ice where everything is made of ice (wrap up warm!), Cinderella on Ice performance, Zippos Christmas Circus, Cirque Berserk and The Sooty Christmas Show as well as Christmas stalls, festive food & drinks, and a big fairground to top it all up! You can breathe again now. The Winter Wonderland is so big, it takes a whole chunk of Hyde Park and it’s guaranteed to impressed even the most ambivalent of teenagers. Entrance is free, but you will have to pay for individual rides and attractions.
Southbank Centre Winter Market:
When: 10th November – 4th January 2018
Times: Sun to Thu 11am – 10pm, Fri to Sat 11am – 11pm
More information: Southbank Wintertime Market
Belgravia Christmas Sunday:
When: 3rd December
Times: 11am – 5pm
More information: Belgravia Christmas Sunday
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland:
When: 17th November – 1st January 2018
Times: 10am – 10pm
More information: Winter Wonderland Hyde Park
We’re confident that one of these fantastic Christmas markets will rock your sleigh. They are all certainly enticing enough to make a trip for! Honourable mentions this year also go to Exeter, York Christmas Festival, Nottingham Winter Wonderland, Bath, Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre, Oxford, Liverpool and Leeds German Market which are all great and worth a visit if you do’t fancy any of the country’s bigger cities. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get Christmassy!