Whether you want to source out the perfect Christmas gift, embrace yourself with the festivities, or just generally bond with loved ones over incredible food and drink, Christmas markets can offer you a memorable experience. However, with different cities hosting different atmospheres, you should be on the lookout for the very best Christmas markets that the UK has to offer and where you can find them. So, where’s your perfect Christmas market trip UK this December? Read on to find out more!
When do UK Christmas markets open?
The question of when the markets open in the UK really depends on which one you are going to. However, the Christmas markets usually open mid-November each year and close either just before Christmas or just after it. This gives shoppers and Christmas-lovers plenty of time to choose a weekend to indulge in the festivities on offer.
The best way to check when your preferred Christmas market opens is to check on their website or social media.
The city of Bath is a great place to be at Christmastime, with its lit-up streets, mouth-watering food, and unique gifts offering the ultimate festive market experience. You can discover the Christmas magic that Bath has to offer through its intertwined aspects of retail, hospitality, arts, and culture. Often, a tasteful range of local artisan makers sell their beautifully crafted items in Queen Square, including Christmas decorations, festive treats, jewellery, and crochets, allowing any person to get their Christmas shopping sorted all in one place! Visiting Bath is probably one of the most magical Christmas markets in the UK, and the most popular Westcountry Christmas shopping location.
In Devon, there are a range of festive fairs, with Totnes’ market being one of the most popular. Totnes late-night Christmas market offers a range of tasty festive treats, unique antiques, and clothing items perfect for the cold season. This quirky town makes a pleasant experience for anyone wanting to help out local traders, enjoying some Christmas spirit, or grabbing a bite to eat. For 2021, unfortunately, the festive markets have been scaled back slightly thanks to the pandemic. But there are still plenty of shopping oppotunities, unique independent shops and funky foodie places to grab some locally sourced treats.
Find out more about Christmas in Totnes from VisitTotnes.
Staying in Devon, Tavistock is another great place to find locally sourced crafts, gifts and great food too. The indoor market in the centre of town is usually a hotbed of great gifts, even out of season. As for Christmas Markets, Tavistock has a small pop up market in Bedford Square regularly and the festive season is perfect. Sparkling lights, a Christmas tree and lots of great independent and boutique shopping mean it’s easy to find a unique Christmas gift, or stock up tasty Chrimbo treats in Tavistock.
Being the iconic capital and global megacity, London hosts an array of Christmas markets aiming to captivate locals and tourists alike in a flurry of Christmas festivities.
Southbank’s Christmas market is a standout must-visit market, with the long stretch of the River Thames beautifully reflecting the glow of market Christmas lights at night to capture the magical atmosphere that Christmas has to offer. The seasonal pop-up bars and stands of diverse ranges of food have drawn people from all over the country to the capital, with comforting Bailey’s hot chocolate, warming mulled wine, gourmet burgers, and crispy cheese toasties waiting to warm you up in the chilling air.
Furthermore, if you love food and you love Christmas, Borough Market will create a perfect experience for you, unfolding the comfort of Christmas before your very eyes. Foodies in particularly with love hunting down the ideal cheese board for Christmas Day, with the Borough Cheese Company offering an array of mature, quality cheese of your choosing.
The other lit-up stalls will be transformed with an essence of the festivities, with fairy lights, tinsel, and wreaths adorning them to add to the Christmas atmosphere. Festive additions on these stalls to look out for include irresistible Christmas cakes and artisan bread. Search for cute stocking fillers, thoughtful crafts, and original Christmas decorations to set your independent seller purchases apart from the whole family.
if you are visiting London and you want to take in the Christmas lights across the city, you can take a number of different sightseeing tours. Big Bus tours offer a number of popular sightseeing routes around the city, so you can see Southbank, Tower Bridge and more. If you’re looking for a more bespoke sightseeing experience, check out a unique Christmas lights taxi tour. A great way to see the sights without the crowds.
Situated in the centre of the city every single year, Manchester Christmas Markets always put on an unbelievable show when it comes to food, music, and stocking fillers bound to put a smile on anyone’s face. Piccadilly Gardens will transform into the Winter Gardens, with eye-catching entertainment and stalls perfect for foodies spread across the whole of this main space. If you’re looking to wind down and relax with a signature cocktail or want to become a bit more festive with gluhwein, Manchester has a lot to offer both locals and tourists!
This beautiful city is magical any time of year, but in the festive season it’s one of the UK’s best Christmas market locations. You’ll find pop up markets, fairground rides and independent stores aplenty for all your festive shopping needs. York is one of the most popular cities to visit in the UK outside of London, so it can be very busy. But if you’re looking for one of the most magical Christmas shopping experiences in the UK, this is a great option.
Check out the York Christmas website.
The Scottish capital is a pretty magical place all year round, with the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle dominating the landscape. But at Christmas, Edinburgh is particularly buzzing and makes one of the best places to visit to get you in the festive mood.
Across Edinburgh there are several Christmas events such as the Princes Street Christmas market, a Christmas tree maze and ice skating too! Plus the city is excellent for shopping, making it perfect for ticking off that list.
Read more about Christmas markets in Edinburgh.
So, hopefully, this article will have given you more of an idea of what you can expect from cities around the UK this year at Christmas. The winter season is a truly magical time, and the bigger cities particularly love to inject fun and festivity into each trip you take to the town centre. If you feel guilty about indulging in the finest foods and beverages on offer, just remember that you are supporting local tradespeople and small businesses along the way. Get involved and start bonding with your local community!