Christmas is one of the most amazing times of the year. I was born in December, and I am a winter child: I love the snow, the atmosphere and all those great cheesy Christmas movies. There is something really special about drinking mulled wine, shopping for presents and cuddling in front of the fireplace. After living in Bristol for almost ten years, I learned where to find the best Christmas markets in the UK. So join me on a fun adventure and let's find where to spend this year's Christmas.
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Christmas Markets in the UK
The story of the Christmas markets in the UK is rather fascinating. Traditionally a Christmas market is associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These street markets originated in Germany and are now held almost everywhere in Europe. Christmas markets date back to medieval Germany but they sure made a way to the UK. It is said that Lincoln brought the first Christmas market to the UK. The market grew bigger and bigger, adding new attractions and new vendors. It started with just 11 stalls in 1982 and nowadays is home to over 300 stalls full of goodies. However, others argue that Christmas markets were always part of the UK tradition until Oliver Cromwell banned the celebration of Christmas. Revived and much loved across the UK, the celebration of Christmas is now very much alive and can be experienced in many cities and towns all around the country. Christmas markets in the UK bring all sort of goods from French, German and Italian traders.
In my opinion, Manchester is simply the best Christmas market in the UK. It could be because this was the very first Christmas market I've ever experienced, but there is something rather magical about it. The main market is held in front of the gothic town hall.
It is home to more than 300 beautiful stalls full of food, drinks and crafted goods. There is a market trail available which winds through the city, tempting you and your loved ones with an array of delicious items and beautifully handmade gifts. Manchester’s markets are famous for traditional bratwurst, as well as other European cuisines including Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella or a good old-fashioned hog roast.
The 2018 Christmas markets will run from Friday 9 November to Saturday 22 December, with the market in Albert Square opening for an extra day on Sunday 23 December.
Edinburgh is my favourite city in the UK, so naturally, I couldn't miss its beautiful and colourful Christmas markets. There are two markets in Edinburgh: one on George Street which offers a unique and festive shopping experience and the East Princes Street Gardens market which hosts a whole lot of bespoke and traditional items. You can get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy the fair of crafters, artists and gift shops. Don't forget to indulge in all those incredible winter foods to warm up your spirit.
The 2018 Christmas markets will run from 16th November - 5th January 2019. Please note: the markets are open from 10 am - 10 pm.
Markets open at 1 pm on 18 November, close at 8 pm on 24 December, are closed 25 December, open 12 pm 26 December and 1 January.
They say there is no place like London, and right they are. London is a spectacular city full of life, and nothing beats its Christmasy atmosphere during the winter holidays. London, unlike most cities in the UK, offers its visitors and residents 11 market spots to pick from, all running during different times between October until January. London can get pretty crowded before Christmas so we strongly recommend creating a travel plan as soon as possible.
Royal Kingston Christmas Fair is a 40-day event being held from 15th November to 24th December 2018 at the Grounds All Saints Parish Church in London, United Kingdom.
Hyper Japan is a market which focuses on traditional Japanese artists and food items. If you love Japan as much as I do, then you will want to check it out. Just note, a lot of people dress up for this event so you might want to bring that lolita costume with you. It takes place at the Olympia between the 16th - 18th of November.
Last year, we also went to the Spirit of Christmas Fair at the Olympia which is held between the 29th of October until the 4th of November. It wasn't very busy, even though we visited during the weekend and found an array of amazing items to buy, including craft gins, traditional biscuits and many beautiful gifts for our family and friends.
You might want to consider the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park between the 22nd of November and 6th of January. Christmas at Kew Gardens is always such a pleasant surprise: See the Gardens light up for an unforgettable after-dark festive trail of lights. Visit from 22 November 2018 to 5 January 2019. There is also a market in Kingston, on Elisabeth Street, at the St. Katharine Docks, at Leicester Square, and of course, around the Tower Bridge.
There are so many reasons you should visit Bath, an incredibly quaint and well-preserved city. The Christmas markets are held around the main square, close to the cathedral. You can see over 200 twinkling chalets spread out across the picturesque Georgian streets of Bath selling handmade and local Christmas gifts. This year’s 2018 Market will take place from Thursday 22nd November—Sunday 9th December. Bath can get pretty busy during the Christmas markets period, so we recommend booking your accommodation in Bristol and taking the train into Bath. The train ride is only 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can cycle the Bristol-Bath bike path for a truly magical adventure.
Ah, Liverpool, you beautiful city. In all honesty, I didn't know what to expect from Liverpool, but the moment I got out of the train station I was amazed. After seeing Liverpool being so magical during a normal Autumn day, I couldn't wait to see it during winter, when the Christmas markets enchant us all.
Returning to St George's Plateau, you will be able to enjoy the traditional festive cabins, dressed in the best garlands and twinkly lights. There are no official dates available just yet, but last year, the markets were open between 17th of November until 23rd of December.
Oxford, the city of dreaming spire will be filled with festive joy and magical lights during its Christmas markets located in the historic Broad Street. Listen to enthralling carols, shop for colourful decorations and share a mulled wine with your loved ones. It's time to come together and join the festivities for a truly magical experience.
The Oxford Christmas market will be held from 7th to 22nd of December.
Come to Bristol between the 9th until the 23rd of December and celebrate Christmas in the Shopping Quarter. Sometimes, there are events at the Cribbs Causeway mall, where families can attend concerts or ice skate in front of a dreamy castle. Bristol has several German stalls which sell traditional mulled wine and delicious sausages. There are also plenty of vegetarian options all around the market. For those with a sweet tooth, Bristol Christmas market won't disappoint as it usually hosts various traders who sell marshmallows, chocolates and truffles.
York is one of the prettiest cities I've seen and should definitely be on your list of places to visit in the UK. York is home to over 100 traditional chalets with pretty fairy lights and magical colours. This years market will launch on Thursday 15th November and will run for 39 days until Sunday 23rd December. Last year, York was visited by 1 million people, so you can imagine how beautiful and popular this Christmas market truly is.
York was founded by the ancient Romans and it's home to a huge Gothic cathedral with beautiful stained glass. The city walls are perhaps the most impressive, set around a recreational Victorian street. York is one of the most picturesque cities in the UK, and a true joy to visit during winter.
Want an enthralling Christmas market in a charming UK city? Head to Chester, of course, where shoppers can have a lovely time meandering around 70 traditional wooden chalets situated in the heart of the city. There will be a large and sparkling Christmas tree, an abundance of gifts and crafts from regional and international traders. Chester Christmas Market will be back from 16th November - 22nd December.
Nottingham's Christmas market is called Nottingham Winter Wonderland. And this market is like no other: it offers its visitors an ice bar, a fun ice rink, plenty of food, drinks and entertainment. Winter Wonderland Nottingham is the No.1 Christmas attraction in the City and is extremely popular. You can book your tickets in advance for various attractions. Don't forget to check the Helter Skelter bar, which is situated on Long Row, selling mulled wine, spiced cider and other hot drinks to keep you aglow. Market Square festive stalls, Ice Rink and Bars will be open from 17th Nov to 31st Dec. The main Christmas Market will be open from 17th Nov - 24th Dec.
The Cardiff Christmas Market will return to the pedestrian streets of Cardiff City Centre in St John Street, Working Street, Hills Street, Trinity Street and the Hayes in 2018. Be ready to experience an eclectic mix of traditional products, exciting gifts and handmade crafts. The dates for 2018 are Thursday 15 November to Sunday 23 December. There are a plethora of hotels, hostels and B&B’s within walking distance of the heart of Cardiff, from luxury hotels and spas, quaint B&B’s, to budget stays. During the Christmas market, the streets of Cardiff usually transform with a cornucopia of Christmassy characters, music, lights and entertainment.
Delicious food and family entertainment this Christmas? It's time to seek some festival in the lively city of Brighton. Brighton is vibrant, colourful and creative year-round, so what can be more interesting than spending quality time between the winter fair and Brighton's famed pier? Brighton is the place to be if you seek locally made gifts, crafts and food. And since you are planning a holiday to Brighton, don't forget to check out some of its most famous selfie spots including the Brighton Beach, The Lanes, the Stanmer Park, its Marina and the Beach Huts.
This year, Millennium Square will be transformed into a scenic winter village. The Leeds Christmas market features a variety of authentic wooden chalet stalls, cosy indoor retreats and a cute carousel. There will be plenty of things to do with daily activities and entertainment for all family fun. Head over to the Ski Hutte to experience a cool bar in an alpine chalet or go to the Kuh stall if you want an intimate and cosy atmosphere.
Want to enjoy a range of Irish beers in Belfast? Take the Belfast pub trail or simply meander around the Belfast City Hall to celebrate the popular Belfast Christmas Market. The Belfast Christmas market is located right in the heart of the city. The market features some amazing refreshment areas with a traditional Irish bar where you can listen to live music.
This year's Belfast Christmas market will be held from 17th of November to 22nd of December. Ready to party the Irish way?
Ready to visit the UK during Xmas?