It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…! I absolutely love the festive season and one of my favourite things to do at Christmas is to visit Christmas markets, enjoy the mulled wine, and pick up some good food and Christmas gifts. If you’re looking for the best places to visit in the UK and to visit the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021, this is the post for you.
I mean, I absolutely loved my Christmas market road trip through Europe… but we don’t have to go that far! Some of the best Christmas markets are right here in the UK.
Despite there being so many beautiful places to visit in the UK, stunning National Parks in the UK and walks and hikes in the UK, winter in England can feel a little bit too cold to enjoy. Winter in London or Christmas in London is one way to enjoy the cooler weather (make sure you wrap up warm!), but going to some of the best Christmas markets in the UK means that you can wear your cutest hat, scarf and gloves, enjoy the festivities, and enjoy some mulled wine to take the edge off the cold!
And if I still haven’t persuaded you to embrace the cold UK winter… here are some places you can travel to for Christmas that might be a little warmer!
If you and your best friend are looking for another weekend of memories, visiting the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021 is guaranteed to give you exactly that. If you’ve done the best Christmas markets in the UK with your bestie, check out 35 bucket list adventures to go on with your best friend here. A weekend exploring one of the best Christmas markets in the UK will definitely be one for your friendship scrapbook: the title “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” with some cute selfies of you and some mulled wine springs to mind!
Gosh, I’m excited as I write this. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you some of the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021 that you should visit during the festive season. From my favourite Christmas markets in London and best Christmas markets in Cornwall to Christmas markets in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, I’ve got them all!
Other blog posts you might be interested in...
25 best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021...
1. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London
It’s the one that everyone talks about, London’s ultimate Christmas event… Winter Wonderland! Hyde Park becomes a place of pure Christmas magic, offering a Christmas market as well as all the fun, games and rides you’ve probably heard about before.
Note: even if you choose to go at an off peak time when admission is free, you’ll still need to book a ticket.
If you’re looking for more Christmas markets in London, check out London Southbank, Leicester Square, or Covent Garden!
2. Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market
Birmingham hosts the largest authentic German market in Europe outside of Germany and Austria, and the largest outdoor Christmas market in the UK, with over 5 million visitors attending each year. Here you’ll find a whole range of products from all over the world on sale: handmade crafts, toys, decorations and jewellery, as well as food and drink (make sure you get some German sausages and beer!). There’s also an ice rink and a big wheel if you don’t want the fun to stop once you’ve finished shopping.
This year’s Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is a scaled down affair, with 56 stalls planned instead of the usual numbers of over 100 (due to city centre development and Brexit). However, it’s still set to be one of the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021, so get planning your weekend or day trip to Birmingham soon!
3. Bath Christmas Market
Bath Christmas Market is probably one of the most popular Christmas markets in the UK. This is one of the biggest events of the year in the south west, with people coming from all over the UK and Europe to shop at the wooden chalets, which are set in the centre of the city (which is a UNESCO world heritage site). Expect high quality, handmade, local products, as well as a good supply of mulled wine.
Bath Christmas Market also pride themselves on being a sustainable market and try to reduce single use plastic and high carbon emissions. Find out more sustainable travel tips here.
Bath Christmas Market have cancelled their Christmas Market 2021 because of staff shortages due to Brexit and Covid-19. However, there will still be events as part of the Bath at Christmas programme, making it one of the best places to visit in the UK at Christmas.
4. Winchester Cathedral's Christmas Market
Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, never mind one of the best Christmas markets in the UK! With the beautiful backdrop of Winchester Cathedral, it takes its inspiration from a traditional German Christmas market, with 112 chalets filled with seasonal gifts, smells, products and souvenirs. Make sure you have enough time to go on the ice rink, too!
5. Leeds Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market
Leeds is up there with London, Birmingham, Winchester and Bath as one of the most famous Christmas markets in the UK. The twinkling lights will guide you round the Christmas village as you buy your Christmas gifts, and try all the famous German Christmas delicacies, such as gluhwein, bratwurst, stollen, gingerbread and more!
Leeds Christkindelmarkt have cancelled their Christmas Market 2021 due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. However, there will still be Christmas events in Millennium Square, making it one of the best places to visit in the UK at Christmas.
6. Belfast Christmas Market
Belfast’s Christmas Market is returning to Belfast City Hall this year. With international food, gifts and drinks, it’s one of the best things to do in Northern Ireland at Christmas. Enjoy a glass of mulled wine as you enjoy entertainment from local talent and do your Christmas shopping stress-free.
Check out the best places to visit in Northern Ireland here.
7. York Christmas Market - St Nicholas Fair
York is one of the best places to visit in the UK and one of the prettiest cities in England, and it certainly doesn’t lose its medieval charm during the festive season. Why not combine your Christmas shopping trip, where you’ll be able to get local Yorkshire produce as well as all the Christmas gifts and food, with a trip to one of Yorkshire’s National Parks?
8. Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market
With the stunning backdrop of Exeter Cathedral, Exeter Christmas market continues to be one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. Featuring Bavarian-style stalls in wooden chalets, crafts, food and drink, as well as a bustling atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to do your Christmas shopping. And if you can’t find the perfect Christmas gift at the market, it’s located right next to the main shopping area in Exeter, so you can keep looking!
9. Newcastle Christmas Market
Newcastle Christmas Market in 2021 will be a smaller event than in previous years, and dates are still TBC (updated October 2021).
At Newcastle Christmas market you can buy anything and everything… As well as the usual Christmas gifts, food and drink, one of the best things about this Christmas market in the UK is that it teams up with the local farmer’s market, so you can also do your shopping for Christmas dinner too!
See all the best places to visit in England in this blog post.
10. Cardiff Christmas Market
Cardiff Christmas market is reguarly voted one of the best Christmas markets in the UK and there’s no reason why that should change this year. Filled with independent sellers and handmade gifts, this is the place to go for unique Christmas presents for your loved ones. With over 200 stalls you’re sure to find the perfect gift for that special someone, and then you can fill your belly on the delicious food once you’re done with your shopping mission.
If you’re making a weekend of it, there’s also Cardiff Winter Wonderland, less than ten minutes’ walk away, with a popular ice rink and fairground rides, as well as food and drink stalls.
11. Glasgow Christmas Markets
If you’re looking for a UK weekend break and you want to turn it into a Christmas shopping weekend, Glasgow is the place to be! With two Christmas markets to choose from, you can spend some time shopping for handmade Christmas gifts and then the rest of your stay exploring one of Scotland’s best places to visit.
12. Padstow Christmas Festival, Cornwall
Cornwall’s largest food festival, Padstow Christmas Festival, is an annual celebration of food, drink and all things Christmas. It’s one of the best Christmas markets in the UK, located right on the Cornish coast, and is a great place to do your Christmas shopping if you’re hoping for smaller crowds (although it does get more and more popular every year!). As well as the usual stalls with Christmas gifts, food and drink, there are usually cooking demonstrations from some of the country’s finest chefs.
Padstow Christmas Festival have cancelled their Christmas Market 2021 due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
13. Edinburgh's Christmas
The world-famous Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations are spreading festive cheer once again across the Scottish capital this year. As well as the usual local produce, Christmas market stalls and souvenirs, you can expect mulled Irn Bru and vegan pigs in blankets!
This is one of the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021 and certainly one of the biggest. The Christmas markets are spread across 3 locations, with the addition of Santa’s Land at East Princes Street Gardens and Santa’s Grotto will be on Castle Street.
14. Norfolk Festive Gift and Food Show
Unlike many of the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021, Norwich’s Christmas market takes place over one weekend, so make sure you put it in your diary. Local really is the theme of the event, and handmade food, crafts and gifts take centre stage.
15. Cambridge Christmas Market
With over 60 independent traders, this Christmas market, located in Cambridge’s main market square, is one of the best in the UK. They have everything, from Christmas food, drink and crafts, to vintage clothing, jewellery and more! The market is within easy access to the other main shopping areas if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
The Cambridge Christmas Market has not been confirmed for 2021 yet.
16. Victorian Festival of Christmas, Portsmouth
If you love history, then this is one of the best Christmas markets in the UK for you! Combine your shopping experience, which will take place across 150 stalls full of handmade gifts, with Victorian street performers, drinks at a traditional tavern, all in the location of the historic dockyard. Awesome!
Portsmouth’s Victorian Christmas market has not been confirmed yet for 2021.
17. Manchester Christmas Markets
With over 300 stalls in 8 different locations around the city (each with a different theme), the Manchester Christmas Markets are some of the best in the UK. After you’ve enjoyed the food and drink, bought all the Christmas gifts, and soaked up the festive spirit, make sure you take the time to enjoy the fun rides and entertainment on offer this year.
18. Bournemouth Alpine Market & Christmas Tree Wonderland
There are so many things to do in Bournemouth at Christmas, you’ll want to make a whole weekend out of it! As well as shopping at one of the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021, here you can snuggle up in a snow dome, go skating on the ice rink, or take a trip through the iconic Christmas Tree Wonderland, a magical show of 100 glittering trees and illuminations which will guide you from the Christmas market to the sea front.
19. Brighton Christmas Festival & Market
Made up of five Christmas themed zones, this is not a Christmas market in the UK that you want to miss. It has everything you could ever want… a giant Christmas tree, Santa’s grotto, a local community stage with top-notch entertainment, as well as streets lined with wooden huts filled with local, handmade gifts and food.
There will also be specific market sessions that will significantly reduce bright and flashing lighting and no music, and a resting and quiet area, for anyone who needs a sensory-friendly Christmas market in the UK.
20. Swansea Christmas Market
Swansea Christmas market is another of the best Christmas markets in Wales. If you’re travelling with kids, this is a great place to do your Christmas shopping, because once you’ve wandered around the stalls, bought your gifts and tried all the delicious food, there is a carousel and more entertainment for the little ones!
21. Oxford Christmas Market
For a magical Christmas experience, make sure you visit Oxford Christmas Market, one of the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021. You’ll see (and buy) the handmade gifts, smell the cinnamon and mulled wine, taste the local food, hear the Christmas choirs, and feel the Christmas spirit in the air… it’s a multi-sensory Christmas shopping experience!
22. Chester Christmas Market
If you’re looking for something a bit less commercial and busy, Chester is one of the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021 for you. Here you can enjoy the same local products and gifts, food and mulled wine as in other places, with smaller crowds, all while admiring the stunning Christmas tree in the city centre.
23. Bristol Christmas Market
Bristol is one of the best places to visit in England, especially if you love shopping, and definitely if you love Christmas shopping. With over 40 stalls selling an array of seasonal delights, handmade gifts and delicious international food, you’ll definitely be needing a drink in one of the heated seating areas when you’re done shopping. Better yet, you could book an igloo pod to snuggle up in, or join in the ‘apres ski’ fun by night!
24. Nottingham Winter Wonderland
Nottingham Winter Wonderland is the largest Christmas event in the East Midlands, and what’s more, it’s free! With all the fun rides, bars, Christmas market stalls and more, this is one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. Here you can buy everything from artisan cheese to homeamde chutney and chocolate, as well as jewellery, mead, plants, food and more!
25. Liverpool Christmas Market
Although it’s in a new location this year, Liverpool Christmas Market is still one of the best Christmas markets in the UK in 2021. There really is something for everyone: rides and games for the little ones, a big wheel and snow slide for older ones, as well as bars for the grown ups. Stalls will include Christmas favourites, handmade gifts, and vegan food!
Thinking of going abroad this Christmas?
Where are your favourite Christmas markets in the UK?
What are your favourite things to do at Christmas in the UK? I’d love to know!
Love as always and happy adventuring…
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