Top 10 Christmas Markets in the UK (and Where to Stay Nearby)

christmas market

What’s more festive than Christmas Markets? Luring with the promise of bubbling vats of spice-infused mulled wine, huge pretzels encrusted with salt, chocolate-coated fruit skewers and stall after stall of handcrafted goodies, they’re enough to win over the most committed Scrooge.

After prolonged lockdowns and the cancellation of many of our favourite Christmas celebrations last year, we can’t wait to celebrate properly in 2021. Fortunately, all around the UK, cities, towns and villages are hosting Christmas festivities that all generations can join in with. So that you can plan the best winter holiday this year, here are the top 10 Christmas markets in the UK and where you can stay nearby.

1. Bath Christmas Market

bath christmas market

The Christmas Markets that line the Georgian streets of Bath are some of the most beautiful in the UK. Taking place around the city centre and splintering off into adjoining streets and squares, the markets transform the city and create an irresistibly merry atmosphere. With the vast majority of the stallholders coming from Bath and the South West, the markets provide a great opportunity to support local businesses and pick up some goodies. For a magical break, combine with a getaway on the Somerset coast at Weston-super-Mare or Burnham-on-Sea.

Dates: Postponed this year but there will be a smaller artisan market and Christmas lights throughout December
Website: bathchristmasmarket.co.uk

2. Belfast Christmas Market

For an unforgettable Christmas market experience this year, why not head to Northern Ireland’s capital? Situated on the country’s east coast, Belfast has year-round appeal and is even more special at Christmas. Home to the biggest Christmas market in Northern Ireland, the city comes alive in winter, illuminated by strings of multi-coloured lights and filled with market stalls, grottos and, our favourite, heated drinks tents. Enjoy the central location and proximity to main stations for holidays in the city or nearby coastal towns like Bangor.

Dates: 20th November – 23rd December 2021
Website: visitbelfast.com/event/belfast-christmas-market-2021/

3. Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market

Some of the most famous festive markets in the UK are found in Birmingham, the cultural and historical hotspot of the Midlands. Usually taking place from November each year, the city’s streets are flooded with activity and the intoxicating aromas of hot gluhwein and roasting chestnuts. Book a city break during the annual ‘Frankfurt’ Christmas Markets for an immersive experience or visit on your way for a winter holiday in an English coastal destination.

Dates: 4th November – 23rd December 2021
Website: thebfcm.co.uk

4. Bournemouth Christmas Market

bournemouth christmas market

If you’re looking to enjoy Christmas markets with a twist, then venture over to the seaside resort town of Bournemouth this year. While not as big as some of the city markets, Bournemouth’s alpine-inspired markets have just as much to offer – just with fewer people. Wander over to the fairy-light-adorned Bournemouth Square and enjoy the array of festive traders offering locally-produced goodies, before heading back to your Dorset holiday cottage in Bournemouth or nearby Sandbanks.

Dates: 19th November 2021 – 2nd January 2022
Website: christmasinbournemouth.co.uk

5. Bristol Christmas Market

The multitude of craft and food-laden stalls and chalets in the Bristol Christmas Market make for a truly wonderful sight. A little more lowkey than the nearby Bath Christmas Markets, Bristol’s markets are perfect for those looking to enjoy feel-good festive vibes with slightly fewer crowds. Wander past Christmas trees, stop off for a marshmallow-topped hot chocolate and pick up some presents to treat yourself and your loved ones with. For convenience, you can stay in Bristol or choose from many lovely holiday cottages in Somerset.

Dates: 5th November – 23rd December 2021
Website: visitbristol.co.uk/whats-on/bristols-christmas-market-p31891

6. Cardiff Christmas Market

If you’re a fan of alpine-style chalets, cute gingerbread houses and magical Santa’s grottos, then you’ll find Cardiff’s Christmas markets to be a real highlight of Wales’ Yuletide calendar. With much to see and ample to thrill the whole family, you can find Christmas stalls and attractions all around the city centre, including Winter Wonderland stands right outside Cardiff City Hall. Stay in Cardiff for the ultimate break or peruse beach retreats in South Glamorgan.

Dates: 11th November – 23rd December 2021
Website: cardiffchristmasmarket.com

7. Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh Christmas market

Edinburgh is undoubtedly one of the most attractive cities in the UK, famous for its centuries-old buildings and cobbled streets. Made all the more atmospheric during the capital’s six weeks of festive celebrations, it is definitely one for every Christmas fan. Taking place in the heart of the city centre, you’ll be able to easily access the markets and attractions (including an ice rink!) from within the city or via the many transport options from cottages on the coast near Edinburgh.

Dates: 19th November 2021 – 2nd January 2022
Website: edinburghschristmas.com

8. Manchester Christmas Market

No guide to Christmas markets in the UK would be complete without mentioning Manchester. Usually taking place from mid-November for just over a month, the city’s extensive Christmas markets are always full of wonder. Peppered across 10 different locations in the city, each has its own distinct character and theme, although we particularly enjoy Albert Square’s European Market. Stay in a city apartment or consider commuting for a day trip from Southport or Blackpool as part of a coastal break.

Dates: 12th November – 22nd December 2021
Website: visitmanchester.com/shopping/manchester-christmas-markets-p327351

9. Winchester Christmas Market

Winchester Christmas market

A stunning city in Hampshire known for its world-famous Medieval cathedral, Winchester sets the perfect backdrop for Christmas festivities. Home to some of the most popular Christmas markets in Europe, it exudes an unrivalled energy that draws visitors from across the globe. Featuring traders from near and far across over a hundred wooden chalets, it has something for everyone. Stay in Winchester or choose from many beautiful holiday cottages in Hampshire or New Forest coastal towns such as Lymington or Milford on Sea.

Dates: 19th November – 22nd December 2021
Website: christmas.winchester-cathedral.org.uk

10. York Christmas Market

One of the smallest cities in the UK, York is loved for its history, architecture, boutiques and fine-dining establishments. That said, should you find yourself visiting at Christmas, you’ll find the month-long Christmas markets are the star on top of the tree. Extending all the way from Parliament Street to St Sampson’s Square and beyond, the markets feature all kinds of amazing stalls and are particularly popular amongst foodies for the sensational culinary offerings too. For the ultimate experience, book a holiday cottage in Yorkshire. There are some fantastic coastal destinations with sea view holiday homes within easy reach of York – try Scarborough, Filey or Bridlington.

Dates: 18th November – 23rd December 2021
Website: visityork.org/events/york-christmas-market

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