Best British Christmas markets

Gillian Rowe / 04 October 2019

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 Market

7 Nov-23 Dec

Said to be the largest Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria. Leave plenty of room for the Glühwein, bratwurst and pretzels, in between looking for beautiful handmade gifts and decorations.

Celebrate Christmas in style this year! Find out more here

Bath Christmas Market

28 Nov-15 Dec

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 over 180 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.

York St Nicholas Fair

14 Nov-22 Dec

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. Here you can peruse authentic Yorkshire produce from crafters and makers cosied away at the Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village

BBC Good Food Show Winter, Birmingham NEC

28 Nov-1 Dec

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 in the Big Kitchen.

Cardiff Christmas Market

14 Nov-23 Dec

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. The market is open until 6pm most evenings, and 7pm on certain late night shopping events.


5-8 Dec

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.


30 Nov-24 Dec

Running right up to Christmas Eve itself for those last-minute gifts with a difference, the Guildhall-based fayre is an inspiration for some fabulous seasonal courses. Perhaps combine some great gift buying with a day-long course on a sparkling range of Christmas crafts, from needle felting and crocheting a snowflake to knitting a bauble. There’s also a Christmas creative writing workshop.


28 Nov-1 Dec
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 and jugglers. And who can resist a ride on the funfair’s Gallopers, to the sound of a barrel organ?


5-21 Dec

Marking its 10th anniversary, this is possibly the most upscale Christmas market you’ll find. 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.


16 Nov-22 Dec

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. Live music will be playing at Lavery's Irish bar.


21 Nov-22 Dec

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. 

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.


Nov 19-Jan 7

Such is the pull of Christmas markets, you’ll find a choice taking place in Edinburgh this year, from a traditional European one (ends Jan 6) to the Scottish market (ends Dec 24), where you’ll find a great selection of locally sourced food and drinks.

Leeds Castle Christmas Market (Kent)

23 Nov-15 Dec (not inclusive, check website for details)

The annual Christmas Market at Leeds Castle offers a great day out for all the family. Held on the Cedar Lawn overlooking the castle, it has a range of seasonal gifts, toys, festive decorations, specialist food and drink. You can also meet the reindeer and the castle’s birds of prey.

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Chatsworth Estate

10 Nov-6 Jan

Join in the festive spirit at Chatsworth. This year, scenes from classic tales are woven throughout Chatsworth House to create a storybook world

From Snow White in the Sculpture Gallery and Cinderella in the Chapel to more recent classics like James and the Giant Peach and Charlotte’s Web, the house has never before been host to such an array of popular characters.

Storytellers will roam the rooms and corridors to enchant visitors with mystical tales as they explore the magical land of make-believe. For younger visitors, a free family trail will be available at the entrance with a friendly baby dragon to spot en route. 

Read more - Christmas market savings


10 Nov-23 Dec (St Enoch Square)

25 Nov-31 Dec (George Square) 

When it comes to Christmas markets Glasgow has plenty to offer. Visit St Enoch Square and George Square for lots of artisan food from around the world and plenty of activities for children. Try German beers, slide down a vintage helter skelter 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, including Etsy Made Local Glasgow at The Briggait and Merchant Square Craft Market, and the Country Living Fair takes places at the SEC Centre. Throw in Etsy Made Local, 3d2d, Art on the Exchange and Super Market Season markets – to name a few – and you can see that Glasgow really does go for 
it at Christmas.

Have I left it too late to book a river cruise to the German Christmas markets?

These trips book up fast but do give it a try. Saga may have late availability for both river and sea cruises going to the European markets.

But don’t ignore what’s on your doorstep. Britain is fast catching up with European festivities. Bath now has more than 170 charming wooden gift chalets winding round its Georgian streets with all the glühwein and stollen you can handle – plus traditional British yuletide fare if that’s more to your taste.

Bury St Edmunds, Edinburgh, London and Manchester are all fabulous, too…

There are coach tours to the big markets now from just about every town in the UK. Look on But if you’re going independently, sort out accommodation before you book your travel: cities fill up fast when the market’s in town.

Extract taken from Saga Magazine, November 2017. For more travel tips,  subscribe to the magazine today!


9 Nov-22 Dec

Christmas markets

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.

Ice Village

7 Nov-1 Dec 

Having wowed the north last year, the Ice Village returns to Cathedral Gardens, where once again the magical frozen Ice Cavern plays host to eye-boggling ice sculptures. This year you can wonder at the glacial and mystical forms of a griffin, a unicorn and (shades of Noggin the Nog?) 

a fearsome ice dragon. Plus, festive gift ideas, a Polynesian tiki bar, a mini ice slide and Santa’s grotto are all part of the city’s wildly enthusiastic Christmas market celebrations.

Continental Christmas Markets

If you fancy a bit more variety, why not try a Christmas Market Cruise. Our continental cruise sails from the United Kingdom to Germany, Holland and Belgium. Enjoy the festive atmosphere in Bremen, Bruges and IJmuiden, as the air is filled with the sound of carol singers and aromas of freshly-baked gingerbread and hot Glühwein.

(via London’s Brick Lane) 


28 Nov-21 Dec

If it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year, then try Christmas Big Apple style – in London. In its 25th year of perpetual reruns, you can share in the US sitcom experience by ringing Phoebe’s charity bell, enjoying a brew at a yule-decked Central Perk and dropping by the guys’ tinsel draped apartments – while nothing says Christmas more than some Friends frippery gift buying.

Find out what's included on a Saga cruise

EXCITING NEWS: The countdown is on for the arrival of our second new ship, Spirit of Adventure, who will take to the oceans this summer! Find out more about cruising aboard our newest ship…

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.