Last Updated on August 9, 2018
The most wonderful time of the year is here, and if you’re heading to the United Kingdom this winter, we’ve picked eight of the best cities to visit for Christmas markets so you can soak up that yuletide joy.
Scents of mulled wine, gingerbread, roasting chestnuts, and pine. Frosty mornings and evenings, Christmas carols and festive jumpers. The UK is known for its Christmas cheer, and if you’re heading there this December, we’ve selected some of the best cities to visit for their Christmas markets so you can indulge in the festivities across all four corners of the United Kingdom.
There really is no place better than London to get your fill of festive fun. This multicultural melting pot, where more than 300 languages are spoken and many cultures celebrated, has Christmas markets to suit everyone. From the little slice of festive Tokyo at the Hyper Japan Christmas Market at Tobacco Dock, to the authentic Nordic yuletide celebrations at the Scandinavian Christmas Market in Rotherhithe, you’ll be able to experience all sorts of festive cultures.
But if we had to pick two, a festive London trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and Southbank Centre Wintertime Market.
Hyde Park’s winter extravaganza is one of a kind that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Running from mid-November to 1 January 2018, it has more than 100 rides and attractions – from ice skating and circus shows to rollercoasters and the Giant Wheel – as well as a Bavarian-style Christmas village market with more than 200 stalls for all your presents and trinkets, and Alpine and German-style bars and grottos for your festive food and glühwein (a must-try festive German winter warming wine made with spices).
The Nordic-inspired chalets that line the River Thames for the Southbank Centre Wintertime Market are a spectacle of twinkling lights, delicious scents of Swedish glögg and hot chocolate, and sounds of merrymaking, and will certainly get the festive juices flowing. Running from mid-November to 30 December, the markets are part of the Wintertime festival where visitors can enjoy a range of festive-themed activites and experiences, from a Finnish rooftop sauna to a pop-up Swedish cider lodge and a snow globe dining experience.
Nearest airports: Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, London City Airport, London Luton Airport, London Stansted Airport
The ancient spa town of Bath is wonderful to explore in any season, being one of the few places in the world where the whole city has been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. But the Georgian streets truly come alive in the festive season at the award-winning Bath Christmas Markets. With more than 200 cute wooden chalets and stalls to explore, all selling homemade and local gifts from artisan producers in the area, you’re certain to find some unique Christmas gifts to take home with you. The market is centred around the Roman Baths and Abbey, with Christmas trees and twinkling lights adding even more festive cheer, so you can easily explore the famous sites of this World Heritage city or bathe in the famous thermal waters while you’re there.
Nearest airports: Bristol Airport
If you’re looking for Bavarian Christmas spirit, look no further than the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham; this yuletide celebration is the largest authentic German market held outside Germany and Austria, and is full of handcrafted wooden gifts, delicate ornaments, and tempting smells of pretzels, bratwursts, and hot chocolate. Don’t miss a taste of stollen, a traditional German Christmas cake dating back to the Middle Ages, or try some delicious Glühwein, while you’re there. The markets run from 16 November to 24 December.
Nearest airports: Birmingham Airport, East Midlands Airport
The Scottish capital is world-famous for its Hogmanay New Year celebrations, but head to Edinburgh before the end of the year and you’ll get to experience its yuletide celebrations and Christmas markets too, as the city celebrates six weeks of festive cheer with Christmas-themed attractions and events during Edinburgh’s Christmas. There are two popular markets to choose from; one in East Princes Street Gardens (running from 18 November to 6 January 2018) and one on George Street (running from 17 November to 24 December), both with gastronomical delights and winter warming drinks, as well as arts and crafts galore for all your shopping needs. This fairytale city really shines during the festive period, and though it may be chilly, you’ll feel fuzzy and warm with Christmas spirit.
Nearest airports: Edinburgh Airport
The Scottish city of Glasgow has two popular Christmas markets, one at George Square and the other at St Enoch Square. Festive cheer, delicious food and gifts galore are available at both, but children may want to head straight to the George Square market thanks to its traditional carousel and Big Wheel. Scotland’s biggest city is well-known for its culture and great atmosphere – add some festive cheer and you’ve got a winning combination.
Nearest airports: Glasgow Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport
Crafts are the name of the game for the Welsh capital city’s festive markets, which turn Cardiff into a Christmas wonderland. The Cardiff Christmas Markets have been running for more than 20 years and put a lot of emphasis on local artisans and their products, from cosy knitwear and handcrafted jewellery, to organic bath and body products and delicate glasswork. Festive foodie delights and yuletide tipples are all on offer too, and as you wander around the 80 or so stalls, you won’t fail to get into the Christmas spirit. Runs from 9 November to 23 December.
Nearest airports: Cardiff Airport
The famous Christmas Markets in Manchester span 10 sites within the city centre, all with their own distinct look and feel, from the European Market in Albert Square to the French Market on King Street and the German Market in St Ann’s Square. There are more than 300 festive chalets and stalls to explore across the city centre, bringing plenty of festive cheer to visitors following the market trail through the city centre. Even if you only visit for a drink, you’ll end up with a Christmas souvenir; the markets run a mug and glass deposit scheme where visitors pay a £2.50 deposit on mugs and £1 for glasses, which you can either get back if your return your mug/glass, or take them home as souvenirs.
Nearest airports: Manchester Airport, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Blackpool International Airport
Held in the Belfast City Hall gardens, the Belfast Christmas Markets are a popular tradition for the city. As one of the landmarks of Belfast, there’s no better place for the festive celebrations to take place, and as you wander you’ll be treated to Christmas delights from many different countries; think pastry from France, nougat from Italy, chocolate from Belgium, bratwursts from Germany, paella from Spain, and many other continental culinary delights. And once you’ve had your fill, you can get shopping or maybe take the family to Santa’s Grotto. Running from 18 November to 23 December.
Nearest airports: Belfast Airport
Handy hint: It gets pretty busy at a lot of these Christmas Markets, so head over early to avoid the crowds, and wrap up warm; the glühwein will help keep your fingers warm, but the UK winters can be rather frosty!
If you’re flying to the UK during the festive season and haven’t yet sorted out how you’re getting to and from the airport, take that stress away by booking your airport transfer on Jayride.com. That way all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the festive cheer!