Our 2018 Christmas period was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had. It was the height of the Australian summer and a scorching 32 degrees outside. We spent the day with friends, lounging, swimming and having the most relaxing time on the beach. Though it was a perfect day filled with friends, laughter and love it didn’t feel like Christmas at all. It kind of felt like a normal Saturday in Sydney. That goes for the whole run-up to Christmas. Christmas has always been my favourite holiday season. Wrapping up from the frosty air, nursing a mulled wine and explore the Christmas Markets make the run-up to the big day so special. I realised exactly how much I missed our UK Christmases! So after visiting the majority of the UK Christmas markets I wanted to share in my opinion the best Christmas markets to visit in the UK.
What are ‘Christmas Markets?’
Christmas Markets have been a popular festivities amongst travellers and locals all over the world but prominently in Europe. The original Christmas markets came from Germany and can be otherwise known as ‘Christkindlmarkt’. These markets are usually made up of various stalls selling food, drinks, hand-made gifts, seasonal gifts and pretty much anything else you can think of. The stalls line the streets of most big UK cities and towns strung together by fairy lights. Though the majority of towns/cities in the UK will have a Christmas market some are definitely better than others. From experience, I’ve found the best Christmas markets in the UK to be in the bigger more popular places such as London and Edinburgh.
When Are the Christmas Markets Held?
Traditionally the Christmas markets were always held for the advent period but in most places nowadays you can find them from late November to early January. So if you’re visiting the UK during the festive period I would recommend stopping to see at least a few of the Christmas markets around the country, especially if you’re from somewhere that doesn’t have them like Australia. But if you’re from mainland Europe then I’m guessing our little markets maybe a little bit of a disappointment.
I’m yet to visit other parts of Europe at Christmas but a road trip exploring the best Christmas markets in Europe is definitely on my bucket list! I mean come on a month hopping between the likes go Prague and Munich drinking hot coca and traditional Christmas dishes? Sounds like a perfect way to spend December!
But where are the best Christmas markets in the UK? Well, I’ve selected a few of my favourites from England and Scotland!
8 of the Best Christmas Markets in the UK
- Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
- Manchester Christmas Markets
- York Christmas Markets
- Chatsworth House Christmas Markets
- Glasgow Christmas Markets
- Edinburgh Scotland
- Padstow Christmas Markets
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland – London
This is probably the most well-known Christmas in the UK. Now I’m not a London girl and I’ve only visited the capital a handful of times but a couple of those times have been in the festive period. I must say that London knows how to do Christmas. From the window displays in Liberty to the beautiful planned Christmas lights which are always so gorgeous. Take a look at this post for a guide on the Christmas Lights in London! The Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is like the Christmas extravaganza. As well as an authentic German market there’s rides, shows, bars and even an area to let loose and boogie! It’s definitely one of the best Christmas markets in the UK and probably most popular.
Is There an Entry Fee at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland?
No. There isn’t an entrance fee to walk around the markets and various other attractions. That said, the majority of experiences inside the park will need to be paid for. But there’s everything from pantomimes to circus acts to enjoy. If you do go to a show or anything inside the Winter Wonderland make sure you plan well. Hyde Park covers a huge area and if you’re not familiar with it you will get lost. Even if you do know the park well it might look a little different! I know this because myself and my best friend who was living in London at the time had some tickets and were literally running trying to find the show and not miss it!
Manchester Christmas Markets
Manchester is another big city in the UK mostly known by football maniacs all over the world. Situated in the northwest of England Manchester know exactly how to do shopping and Christmas markets. I’ve visited these markets pretty much every year for the last 5 years. The markets in Manchester span the whole of the city with over three hundred stalls. Manchester has won awards year after year for these amazing markets so they are worth a visit. As well as the stalls Manchester also has a Christmas ice rink nestled in-between the markets and these gorgeous Christmas karaoke huts. Imagine wooden huts, karaoke, mulled wine and a bunch of friends. Honestly, Manchester is a wonderful place for a festive day out!
The markets are usually spread out quite wide but the locations for 2019 are, Exchange Square, Market Street, Cathedral Gardens, Corn Exchange, Exchange Street, New Cathedral Street, King Street, St Anns Square and Brazennose Street. I’ve popped these places on a map just below.
The markets are free to get lost in! For more information about the Manchester Christmas Markets go here!
York Christmas Markets
Ask anyone from the UK what they think of the city of York and most would call it enchanting and magical. York is exactly what you expect when you think of an English city. Cobbled streets, old buildings and a rich history fill the city. The Christmas Markets in York are just as good as the rest of the city. In fact, the whole of York is one of the best places to enjoy Christmas in the UK. From beautiful Christmas lights and traditional German market York is definitely high up on the list as one of the best Christmas markets in the UK.
As well as enjoying the markets in York I recommend taking a stroll down the Shambles and enjoy some Christmas shopping! If you’ve never been to York then you’ll probably notice a huge line outside Betty’s Tearoom but if I’m honest I wouldn’t bother. If you have heard of Betty’s Tea room the one to visit is in Harrogate! Other must-see places in York (Christmas or no Christmas) are:
- York Minster
- The Shambles
- York City Walls
- York Dungeon
- Jorvik Viking Centre
Chatsworth House Christmas Markets
Being from God’s Own Country myself, Yorkshire for those of you who don’t know that saying, so it would be rude not to include of my own. Best Christmas Markets in the UK I love are at Chatsworth house. Nestled in the heart of the Peak District lies Chatsworth House. Chatsworth House is home to the Cavendish family and has been for the last 16 generations. It’s currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Certain areas of the house have been open to the public for years. The gardens are beautiful and Chatsworth hosts an array of events throughout the year including some Christmas Markets.
The Christmas Markets at Chatsworth House have been voted as some of the best in the country. The house promotes a different Christmas theme each year which is released in late September. Keep an eye on this website for the release. Tickets also need to be purchased for the markets at Chatsworth but it’s certainly worth it!
The Best Christmas Markets in the UK – Leeds Christmas Markets
Leeds is also a hub for designer shopping, dining and bars! One of my favourite bars in Leeds is the rooftop bar Angelica’s. Enjoy views of the city below whilst during a cocktail. You’ll find the bar on the roof of the Trinity Shopping Centre. The Christmas markets in Leeds are somewhat smaller than the others I mentioned but still cute and worth a visit. Leeds is so festive at Christmas time but maybe that’s because I love Christmas shopping!
We unexpectedly found ourselves at the Glasgow Christmas markets a few years ago and boy we were glad. Glasgow is a beautiful city and the Christmas tree is amazing! The city is easy to navigate as it’s set out like a square. The Christmas markets in Glasgow span across a couple of areas in the city. The main are areas usually George Square and St Enoch Square filled with culinary delights and traditional Christmas gifts. Glasgow also runs various independent Christmas markets across the city. Find these locations here.
Edinburgh Christmas Markets
The Christmas Markets in Edinburgh is pretty special. If I was choosing between Glasgow or
Edinburgh I’d opt for Edinburgh. The market is a lot bigger and completed with a Ferris wheel offering great views of the city. Edinburgh has a fantastic array of Bavarian-themed stalls and plenty of German sausages to go around. There’s usually plenty of areas playing live music and outside bars. Snuggle in with a blanket under a heater and get into the festive spirit whilst listening to some festive favourites. Edinburgh is a great Scottish city to visit from gorgeous colourful shopping street to haunted ghost tours. Some of the great things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas are:
- Go Ice Skating
- Enjoy the Nativity Play in St. Andrew square
- Visit Edinburgh Castle
- Walk unto Arthurs Seat
- Enjoy the colours on Victoria Street
Padstow Christmas Festival
Okay, I haven’t actually been to this Christmas Market but I know many who have and it’s highly recommended. Built upon the beautiful English coast Padstow is found in Cornwall England. It makes a change from the big city of London and the countryside of Yorkshire and Scotland is the coast. The Padstow Christmas Festival is one of the biggest in the country with pop-up stalls everyone can enjoy! Padstow also have plenty of other events going on at Christmas too! Check it out on their website here!
I honestly can’t wait to get back to Europe at some point for all the winter festivities! I really hope you enjoyed this post on my favourite Christmas Markets in the UK. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of the best Christmas Markets in the UK but these ones are especially good! If you did enjoy this post I would be so grateful if you could share it with your friends! I hope you manage to enjoy some Christmas markets this year!