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Best British Christmas markets

05 November 2021

Festive fairs are a great way to welcome in the season with unique gift ideas, inspiration on decorating your home for Christmas and local foodie treats.

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas market
Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas market. EddieCloud / Shutterstock.com

It's the most wonderful time of the year - the year that the Christmas markets roll up into town, roll out their festive sparkle and warm the cockles of our hearts with spiced drinks, festive tunes and beautifully crafted gifts. And while we might have missed out on the traditional Christmas market last year many are back and making up for lost time, often with additional safety measures in place such as more space beteen stalls, while others are available as an online shopping experience. Here are some of our favourites:

Birmingham Frankfurt Market

November 20 - December 23 2021 

Birmingham's Frankfurt Market is said to be the largest German-style Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria. Stroll the beautifully decorated stalls on Victoria Square and New Street and admire all the beautiful handmade gifts and decorations, and be sure to leave plenty of room for the Glühwein, bratwurst and pretzels.

www.thebfcm.co.uk/

Celebrate Christmas in style this year! Find out more here


Nottingham Winter Wonderland

November 15 - December 31 2021

Nottingham Winter Wonderland returns, this time spread out at two locations (Old Market Square and Trinity Square) for improved social distancing. Old Market Square will house the ferris wheel, helter skelter, ski bar and market stalls, while Trinity Square's Winter Village will provide a place to take a break and relax with a drink.

nottinghamwinterwonderland.co.uk/

Bath Christmas Market - virtual in 2021

November 1 - December 31 2021 

In 2021 the Bath Christmas Market has gone virtual, with over 160 local independent retailers offering their handmade gifts through the market's online store. Buy artisan food and drink, ceramics, clothing, scented candles and more.

More than 200 traditional wooden chalets packed full of fabulous Christmas presents will fill the area surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. All the stallholders have been carefully selected, with more than 80% coming from Bath and the Southwest, while 99% of the goods available are handmade in the UK, or abroad with Fairtrade certification. The scent of caramelised nuts wafts through the market, where the traditional chalets sprawl through the Georgian streets of Bath. Visit for handmade jewellery, gifts, Christmas ornaments and much more, or just enjoy the atmosphere in one of the country's most beautiful cities.

bathchristmasmarket.co.uk

York St Nicholas Fair

November 18 - December 23 2021 

The picturesque city of York makes for an atmospheric visit at any time of year, but when the Christmas market sets up ship, you can feel the holiday spirit in the air. Central to York’s festive celebrations, with stalls lining Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square and The Judge’s Lodging, York’s Christmas Market - the St Nicholas Fair - won Best Large Speciality Market at the Great British Market Awards in 2019. St Nicholas Fayre has an olde worlde sensibility about it, just like the city itself. Expect cosy wooden chalets, festooned with twinkling lights, to serve up the scene of roasting chestnuts and milled wine. Here you can peruse authentic Yorkshire produce from crafters and makers cosied away at the Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village.

visityork.org

BBC Good Food Show Winter, Birmingham NEC

November 25 - 28 2021

As well as enjoying an opportunity to stock up on some delicious food, drink and cookery products from over 450 exhibitors, visitors can also enjoy exciting live entertainment featuring some of the biggest names in British food in the Big Kitchen.

www.bbcgoodfoodfestivefayre.com

Cardiff Christmas Market

November 11 - December 23 2021 

This well-established market in the heart of Cardiff city centre features original artworks and prints, ceramics, glassworks and much more. The organisers endeavour to introduce new stall holders each year to keep it fresh, with many of the artists providing demonstrations off their skills. Wander the pedestrianised streets of St John Street, Working Street, Hills Street, Trinity Street and the Hayes.

cardiffchristmasmarket.com

Lincoln Christmas Market

December 2 - 5 2021 

The city of Lincoln is blessed with a wonderful, historical backdrop for a Christmas market. The medieval square between the striking Norman castle and impressive gothic cathedral will feature stalls offering gifts, goodies and delicious food and drink.

lincoln-christmasmarket.co.uk

Salisbury Christmas in the Square

November 19 - December 31 2021 

Salisbury's Christmas market won't be quite the same this year, with no large events such as the switch-on or bespoke Christmas market, but the regular markets will continue and there will be plenty of festive fun around them, including the Salisbury Christmas tree trail which is a lovely way to explore the city. Christmas in the Square include performances, reindeer, carol singers and a chance for little ones to meet Father Christmas.

visitwiltshire.co.uk/salisbury/ideas-and-inspiration/christmas-in-salisbury

Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre

December 2 - 5 2021 .

This is a Christmas market on a grand scale, boasting over 200 stalls, with the majority of stallholders coming from within a 30-mile radius of the city, to ensure that products are as local as possible. The festivities will start with a carol service in Worcester cathedral. Costumed characters from the Victorian era will wander the streets of the city, including singers, buskers, stilt walkers and jugglers. And who can resist a ride on the funfair’s Gallopers, to the sound of a barrel organ?

worcesterchristmasfayre.co.uk

Oxford Christmas Market

December 9 - 19 2021 

The city of dreaming spires provides a magical festive day out. Historic Broad Street oozes classy merchandise, you can almost hear the oohs and aahs as the Cotswold set open their gifts on the big day. Foodies especially will love the range of tasty treats and kitchen must have devices – who can resist chess piece salt and pepper grinders? Worth a visit for that something out of the ordinary.

oxfordchristmasmarket.co.uk

Belfast Christmas Market

November 20 - December 23 2021

Worth a trip to see how Belfast’s City Hall gardens are transformed into a Christmas village setting. As well as plenty of clothing, gifts, arts and crafts and decorations from across Europe, you’ll be able to sample a wide variety of festive treats. Sample the Gluhwein, hog roast, Belgian chocolates and crepes as you wander through lanes of pretty Alpine lodges. Pop-up performances will be taking places over the festive season so look out for music, theatre and circus acts.

visitbelfast.com/

Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market

November 19 - December 22 2021 

From its relatively modest beginnings, the Christmas market now boasts over 100 attractive wooden chalets, all selected for the quality of their products and selling a wide range of Christmas goodies, including seasonal food and drink, handmade British crafts, and unique, bespoke, interesting and unusual gifts and decorations. It's regarded by many as one of the very best Christmas markets in the UK and even Europe.

A large outdoor ice rink sits at the centre of Winchester’s Christmas activity. 

With the historic Close’s dramatic medieval architecture as a backdrop, it’s an idyllic setting at any time of day, but it really comes into its own in the evening when the cathedral is lit up and a warm glow radiates from the market stalls.  

winchester-cathedral.org.uk/event/christmas-market/

Edinburgh Christmas Market

November 20 2021 - January 4 2022 

A trip to Edinburgh offers a range of festive fun for all the family with plenty to keep even the most ardent shoppers happy, so it's no surprise that Edinburgh's Christmas market is one of the most popular in the UK. For a festive taste of Scotland we recommend local crafts, food and drink including mouth-watering sausages and Scottish brewed craft beer. There are also lots of activities to keep the family entertained, including a Christmas tree maze, ferris wheel, Santa's Grotto and ice skating.

For 2021 the space the market takes up as expanded to allow for more space between stalls and better social distancing.

edinburghschristmas.com

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Newcastle Christmas Market

December 2 - 30 2021 

This year's Newcastle Christmas market is a smaller affair than in 2019, when it was the largest Christmas market the city had ever hosted. Instead the 2021 event will be smaller with an emphasis on supporting local businesses, so shop for local produce while enjoying locally-brewed beer and listening to the city choir for a memorable festive experience that doesn't have the hustle and bustle of pre-pandemic events.

newcastle.gov.uk

Chatsworth Estate Christmas Market

November 6 - 24 2021 

Join in the festive spirit at the spectacular Chatsworth. With over 100 stalls to browse, as well as Chatsworth's own Stables gift shop, you're bound to make good progress on your shopping list. Plus take some time for yourself to enjoy a German beer or mulled wine and sample the sausages, gourmet burgers and churros while listening to live music.

chatsworth.org/events/christmas-market/

Glasgow St Enoch Market

November 21 - December 23 2021 

When it comes to Christmas markets Glasgow has plenty to offer. Visit St Enoch Square for lots of artisan food from around the world and plenty of activities for children. Try German beers, Greek gyros and Dutch pancakes and marvel at the stunning 15m Christmas tree. Each day children get to meet Father Christmas at the George Square Christmas Market. Smaller independent markets are dotted around the city for a huge range of gifts – you can see that Glasgow really does go for it at Christmas, even with this year's cancellation of the George Square market.

glasgowloveschristmas.com

Manchester Christmas Markets and Winter Gardens

November 12 - December 22 2021 

Manchester’s award-winning Christmas markets return this winter, offering mouth-watering international food, drinks and delicately crafted Yuletide gifts in the heart of this buzzing city. With over 300 beautifully festooned stalls and chalets spread across the city centre, Manchester’s markets are among the country’s largest. 

Soak up the atmosphere and follow the market trail as it winds through the city centre, tempting you with gifts, crafts, jewellery, clothes and toys. European and local producers offer everything from fine amber jewellery, handcrafted leather bags and top-quality bonsai trees, to handmade Belgian kitchenware, framed photo prints and French soaps. 

And when planning your visit, don’t miss the amazing array of food and drink! Manchester’s Christmas Markets are famous for traditional bratwurst, but you can also treat yourself to Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella or a good old-fashioned hog roast. 

2021 also sees the opening of the Winter Gardens (open until January 3 2022) at Picadilly Gardens where you can enjoy the gardens, food, drink and live music, all from the warmth of a marquee if the weather is bad.

visitmanchester.com

London Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

November 19 - January 3 2021 

Last but not least, how could we forget our very own capital? Let's just say that London does not let us down. The city lays on a dazzling array of markets in a variety of famous locations.

Some of the best-loved are located at Leicester Square, South Bank and Greenwich Market, but it is the mighty Hyde Park Winter Wonderland where 200 fairy-lit stalls will vie for your attention. Offering a range of gift ideas there are also plenty of fun ways to while away the hours, including karaoke, an ice rink, fun fair rides and a wide range of festive food and drink to choose from.

hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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