Who doesn’t love a Christmas market? With an endless supply of hot chocolate and mulled wine to warm us up and the soothing sounds of carolers caroling, Christmas markets bring festive cheer as our nights get longer and longer.
From Edinburgh and Manchester to Winchester and York (and Southampton saved last minute), these are the UK Christmas markets you won’t want to miss this winter – and the dates for your diary.
3 December to 26 December
While the Southbank Centre's Winter Festival runs a little longer, from 3 Nov to 8 Jan, jam-packed with shows, art and exhibitions, a New Year's Eve party and more, its traditional winter market on Queen's Walk holds its last day on Boxing Day.
What could be better than walking along the Thames, and feeling at the heart of the city, while also soaking up the authentic alpine chalets of the food and drink stalls under Christmas lights?
17 November to 24 December
Good news, after just three weeks since it was announced that the German market would not be returning to Southampton, it's now back on track, due to open in November. In a Christmas miracle, with the last operator pulling out, the market has been saved last minute by another company, S&D Leisure.
"It means that small businesses that were hoping to trade can still do so, and we can still offer an exciting mix of entertainment, food, drink and shopping for visitors and local residents alike," says Councillor Satvir Kaur.
This means you can still expect a traditional horse carousel and other children's rides, bars offering festive Glühwein (mulled wine), hot chocolates and mulled cider, as well as irresistible crêpes, German sausages, cheeses and nibbles. The 'party atmosphere' will pick up between Thursdays and Sundays in the main bar's covered area.
19 November to 3 January
Christmas time in Edinburgh is a truly magical experience. The majority of markets are spread throughout the city centre – which means you can easily visit them all by foot. East Princes Street Gardens market is the biggest of them all, located right in the heart of the city. It’s surrounded by some iconic landmarks such as the Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument, and Calton Hill – a stunning backdrop to an already beautiful set-up.
Expect large crowds as the market gets bigger every year. But also expect lots of Christmas goods, with stalls selling everything from painted nutcrackers to Glayva — a local Scottish whiskey whose name translates to ‘Very Good’ in Gaelic.
If you’re bringing kids, there’s no shortage of attractions for them. They’ll get thrills from the Christmas ferris wheel, the Star Flyer and Santa Land.
10 November to 22 December
Manchester’s Christmas Market is known to dazzle visitors with hundreds of wooden huts in the city’s centre. The market is made up of eight markets and more than 300 stalls, joining together for a festive celebration.
Check out St Ann’s Square and King Street’s food stalls for some delicious treats before you head to the “Winter Gardens” – the main hub of the markets – located on Piccadilly Gardens.
5 November to 23 December
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market will return to Victoria Square in early November. The Christmas market is the largest authentic German market outside Germany and Austria — and it’s just as buzzing.
From bratwurst and pretzels to glühwein and German beer, expect traditional goods that will tempt your tastebuds.
Don’t miss Chris Moose, the singing Christmas moose, in front of the Birmingham Council House in the heart of the city.
1 December to 4 December
Lincoln hosted the very first traditional German Christmas market in the UK, due to its friendship and 'twinning' (when towns or cities in different countries are paired to encourage cultural, commercial and human connections) with Neustadt in Germany.
It's grown from 11 stalls in Castle Square in 1982 to more than 200 spread across cobbled streets and the cultural quarter. And with the link to the German town still strong, you can expect the most authentic crafts, food, drink and festive gifts to be brought over.
10th November to 24 December
The countdown is on for Kingston Upon Thames' Christmas stalls and entertainment to return to Ancient Market Place, which sells fresh fruit, veg, flowers and more for the rest of the year.
As well as soaking up the lights, food and drink (they're currently on the hunt for veggie and vegan traders, too) magical stocking-fillers available, and carousel for the kids, you can enjoy a list of live performers at the Pyramid Bar Stage.
18 November to 18 December
With over 100 twinkling festive chalets, themed bars, hand-crafted gifts and local produce, Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market is bound to put you in the festive mood. Devon’s biggest Christmas market takes inspiration from traditional markets in Germany and attracts more than 600,000 visitors every year.
Located at Exeter Cathedral Green, the jewel in the crown in the city centre and just a few minutes from the main shopping district, it’s the perfect location for anyone looking to get their Christmas shopping sorted.
18 November to 22 December
Winchester’s Cathedral Christmas Market is said to be one of the best in Europe. Known for its bustling atmosphere and idyllic backdrop, the market is filled with twinkling lights and traditional wooden chalets selling everything from festive gifts to warm mulled wine.
Listen out for the sound of Christmas carols as they serenade you on your way to the covered ice rink - although this was closed last year due to the pandemic and the same may happen this year. The Christmas Market food court also offers some incredible food – including the British favourite fish and chips, and German bratwurst sausages.
24 November to 11 December
This year, Bath Christmas Market – one of the biggest in the UK – is celebrating its 20th anniversary. More than 170 stalls are spread across the city’s cobbled streets around the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey, making it one of the most picturesque locations.
Grab a hot chocolate or some mulled wine and listen to the sounds of brass bands and local choirs as you wander chalets and browse around for the perfect homemade Christmas gift. And if you have any extra time while you’re there, treat yourself to a relaxing day at Thermae Bath Spa, the UK’s only natural thermal day spa.
15 November to 31 December
Known locally as Nottingham Winter Wonderland, Nottingham Christmas Market is one of the most popular winter events in the East Midlands. This year, the markets will be held in two different locations: the original location at the Old Market Square and a new Winter Village at Trinity Square.
There’s plenty of activities to do while you’re there. Get a bird’s-eye view of the city from top of the 32-metre observation wheel in Nottingham’s Old Market or enjoy a mug of hot cider at the après ski bar. Children can also slide down the traditional, colourful Helter Skelter ride while adults grab a drink at the Helter Skelter Bar.
Read more: How to have a more affordable Christmas
17 November to 23 December
Last but not certainly not least is York’s Christmas Market – St Nicholas Fair – which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
The infamous chalets line Parliament Square and St Samson’s Square with shimmering lights, transforming the streets into a festive atmosphere, with local traders selling artisan goods.
Brand new to York Christmas Market this year is The Winter Hütte, is a traditional Swiss chalet, which will offer an unforgettable dining experience from one of Yorkshire’s best-known chefs, the Michelin-starred Andrew Pern.