The 12 days of Christmas: 12 places to spend Christmas in the UK

Ther It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but as the holidays draw closer and the trees go up we are all wondering where to spend this Christmas. Over 23% of Brits have spent Christmas abroad with Dubai being named the most popular destination for the holidays. But, with over 50% of Brits staying in the UK over Christmas, we have racked our brains and researched the depths of the internet to find you the best destinations for Christmas in the UK. Whether you are on a city break staycation, or a day trip to see the twinkling lights, here are the top eight cities to spend Christmas.

1. Nottingham

Nottingham Christmas tree The Nottingham Christmas tree in the centre of the city.

Spending Christmas in Nottingham is a magical experience, it becomes home to its very own Winter Wonderland, Nottingham hosts sparkling Christmas markets, an ice rink, and family pantomimes. Taking over Old Market Square in the centre of the city, this attraction is set to bring in over 2.9 million visitors over the Christmas period. The event has over 70 stalls, children’s rides and is the biggest Christmas market in the East Midlands.

Christmas Light Switch On: 15th November
Winter Wonderland
15th November –  31st December

2. Edinburgh

edinburgh during winter The beautiful city of Edinburgh during the wintertime

Edinburgh is renowned for its manmade and natural beauty, from Holyrood Park to Edinburgh Castle. At Christmas, this city comes alive with dazzling lights, Christmas markets and a Christmas tree maze. From the 17th November visitors will be able to try out numerous rides including roller coasters, bumper cars, and a Santa train. An ice rink, fireworks and concerts take place from November onward.

Light Night: 17th November, 3 pm
Fairground: 17th November – 1st January
Christmas Markets: 17th November – 1st January
Ice Rink: 17th November – 5th January

3. London

London in the snow An idyllic scene of London in the snow

The capital city has so much to offer those spending Christmas in the UK, from the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park to the incredible Christmas shopping on Oxford Street. London hosts an array of Christmas markets, ice rinks, and events leading up to Christmas. Our favourites have to be the wintertime market at Southbank Centre, Somerset House ice rink, and Christmas by the River at London Bridge.

Southbank Winter Festival: 8th November – 27th December
Leicester Square Christmas Market: 8th November – 5th January
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland: 21nst November – 5th January
Christmas by the River: 29th November – 2nd January

4. Leeds

Leeds street with Christmas lights A city of magic and excitement

Kick-starting Christmas with the Leeds Lights Switch On and becoming home to the sparkling 100ft Leeds Wheel of Light, Christmas markets, Santa’s grotto, and spectacular performances from the Northern Ballet and Opera North. Guests can Christmas shop at historical arcades and being the third largest shopping destination in the UK, you are sure to find presents for the whole family, including yourself.  Discover our guide to Christmas shopping in Leeds here.

Leeds German Christmas Market: 8th November – 21st December
Thor’s Tipi: 17th November – 31st December
The Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall: 22nd November – 5th December
Christmas at Harewood House: 23rd November – 5th January

5. York

Snowing in York let it snow in the city of York

York is the perfect place to spend Christmas in the UK. It’s historic lanes and beautiful architecture makes it the ideal chocolate box city to spend the holidays. This year, York is hosting a new Santas’s grotto and it will be the first time York has been home to a city centre Christmas tree shop. In 2017 York was named Britain’s most festive city, so this city is pushing itself further than ever this year with festive events and attractions.

York Christmas Festival: 15th November – 23rd December
Christmas Light Switch On: 15th November 6.30 pm

6. Birmingham

The christmas market in Birmingham The serene Birmingham Christmas market

Birmingham this Christmas is becoming home to pantomimes, parties, and steam train rides. Each winter, Birmingham city centre bursts with the twinkling lights of the Frankfurt Christmas market that has run for over 15 years and is the largest of its kind outside of Germany. This year it is set to attract over 6 million visitors, making it the place to be for those wanting to experience a truly incredible Christmas event.

Frankfurt Christmas Market: 14th November – 22nd December
Big Wheel and Ice Rink: 14th November – 26th January
St Philips Cathedral Market: 14th November – 22nd December
Christmas Light Switch On: 15th November, dusk

7. Cardiff

Cardiff Christmas Tree with fairy lights. As the nights get darker, Cardiff gets brighter

With so much on offer, Cardiff makes it easily on to the list. From magical ballets to pantos, this city is the perfect city to do Christmas shopping in a range of fabulous shops or at the Christmas markets. Cardiff Bay sparkles under the fairy lights and becomes a gorgeous Christmassy location. Guests will be able to experience a traditional Welsh Christmas at St Fagans National Museum of History or visit the stunning Cardiff Castle home to a Santa’s grotto and Christmas parties.

St Fagans Christmas: 6th December – 8th December
Christmas at the Castle: 5th December – 23rd December
Winter Wonderland: 15th November – 6th January
Christmas Markets: 15th November – 23rd December
Step into Christmas: 15th November, 16.30 – 19.30

8. Manchester

Manchester Christmas Market Manchester lit up for Christmas

An Ice Village, a giant Santa clause, and the Winter Funland at Trafford City, Manchester truly provides something for everyone during the festive season. Events are being held throughout November and through to the New Year, so guests can experience a whole range of things to do and see from a festive afternoon tea at The Monastery to the UK’s biggest ice attraction in the Cathedral Gardens.

Festive Afternoon Tea: 23rd December, 12.00 – 14.30
Winter Funland at Trafford City: 7th December – 1st January
Manchester Christmas Lights Switch On: 3rd November, 19.30 – 21.30
Ice Village Manchester: 9th November – 5th January
Christmas Markets: 9th November – 23rd December
Ice Rink on First Street: 12th November – 23rd December

9. Bristol

Bristol Christmas Market Head to the Bristol Christmas market for some mulled wine

Even as the nights get shorter and the weather becomes colder, Christmas and its magic is something to look forward to. Bristol offer’s a Christmas like no other with an array of fairy lights, a stunning Christmas tree and just a touch of magic. From the Christmas market to its magnificent carol concerts, there is much to do in this magical Christmas city. Oh, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for Santa and his elves!

Bristol’s Christmas Market: 9th November – 23rd December
Winter fair and Ice rink: 17th November – 6th January

10. Bath

The christmas market in Bath Christmas lights all around

Offering everything from churros to sweet roasted chestnuts, the city of Bath is just as sweet and delicious at Christmas time. While drinking a steaming mug of mulled wine, you can  truly relax and enjoy the elegance of people skating on the city’s ice rink. With a Victorian carousel and traditional pantomime shows, Bath really is marvellous at Christmas.

Bath Christmas Market: 28th November- 15th December
Bath ice rink: 28th November – 15th December
Pantomime: 26th November -26th December

11. Belfast

Belfast sunset at Christmas The city lights at Christmas

Filled with Christmas cheer and joy is the Belfast Christmas Market. With holiday cuisine from around the world, indulge in some sweet treats and delicious Christmas fare. From German bratwurst to roman mulled wine, Belfast has a delightful and refreshing Christmas market for all.

Belfast Christmas Market: 17th November – 22nd December
Santa’s grotto: 17th November – 22nd December
Enchanted winter Gardens at Antrim Castle Gardens: 6th December – 22nd December

12. Glasgow

Large Christmas decorations Christmas decorations in the centre of Glasgow

With irresistible cuisine and ‘to die for’ shopping Glasgow city centre, at Christmas, is perfect for a trip away for the weekend. Glasgow Christmas market offers a variety of activities and stalls to participate in. From Christmas trinkets to Christmas decorations, Glasgow is full of unique and exquisite gifts at Christmas.

Glasgow Christmas Market: 9th November – 23rd November
Riverside Christmas Festival: 7th December – 8th December

With each city celebrating in their own way, why not tour of them all? With so many of our great apartments located in each city, you can be sure to have a fantastic winter wonderland experience with some cosy and lovely accommodation to go with it. Why not check out our other festive blogs too!


Annabel Connell

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