5 of the best Christmas markets in Britain


Europe has long had a tradition of wonderful festive markets and it seems that the UK is really beginning to catch up. With the Christmas season starting to kick in fully from early November onwards in Britain, it’s time to grab a glass of mulled wine and explore some locally crafted treats and inspiring gift ideas.

1. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

With some stiff competition amongst London Christmas markets, it’s still hard to beat the scale, ambition and spectacle of Hyde Park’s annual winter extravaganza. The German Christmas market has over 200 picturesque stalls to choose from, with a dazzling array of tempting products and delicious foodstuffs. The market benefits, of course, from being situated in the epicentre of a theme park with over 100 attractions. The ice dancing and circus dome offer world class entertainment and it is open twelve hours a day for partying well into the evening. It is also perfectly placed for a combined trip with the legendary Christmas lights in London’s West End, and some shopping on Bond Street if there is anything left in your wallet when you’ve been tempted by the German market stalls.

2. Princes Street Market, Edinburgh

The beautiful, historic and walker-friendly Scottish city of Edinburgh has a festive feeling year-round, which ratchets up for Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations. This year sees and ambitious and innovative revamp of the iconic market, with the addition of twenty new stalls, new community initiatives, and even a silent disco. Many visitors to the market choose to combine it with a night walk, where, coming to life in the chill darkness, an audio tour enlivens the extraordinary history of Edinburgh. Some of the theatrical events are a closely kept secret until very near the event launch itself, but they always offering stimulating and very Scottish culture.

3. Royal Welsh Winter Fair

Offering a slightly different experience to any other market attraction, the Welsh winter fair offers a compelling showcase of the regional, unique produce that Wales is famous for. Taking place over two days in late November, and celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, it combines a vibrant Christmas market with a major livestock event, allowing visitors to experience many of the most authentic aspects of Welsh rural culture at first hand. There are plenty of goodies to browse but the food is a stand-out feature, with wonderful breads, cheeses and meats.

4. Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market

Few places can make you feel more like you are walking into a movie set than the cathedral close in Winchester. The stunning setting could not be more perfect for a Christmas market. There are over 100 individual chalets to browse through, a food court and crafts village. With an emphasis on interactivity, there are so many activities to choose from and ways to engage with the event. The crafts market is very important support to the incredible local artistic talent in this part of the world, showcasing jewellers, painters, textile artists and glass artisans, amongst many other creative and special goods.

5. Blenheim Palace Illuminated Trail

Christmas markets are perhaps traditionally associated with town and village centres rather than stately homes, but the truly spectacular light display at Blenheim Palace has put it squarely on the map. The Illuminated Light Trail makes clever use of a combination of countless light with lasers and projections to set the Oxfordshire countryside ablaze with seasonal colour. The market itself has lovely children’s toys, pottery, textiles and tempting edible treats too. Though it only started in 2016, it is already astonishingly popular. Exploring the light tunnels across the beautiful grounds can work up quite an appetite, so it is just as well that there are plenty of stops along the way for toasted marshmallows and wine.

There are so many other Christmas markets to choose from, but this list of five of the best should be the start of a marvellous exploration of this tradition.

Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande is Director of Passepartout Homes Ltd. Passepartout Homes Ltd. offers an exclusive portfolio of luxury villa rentals in Italy, France, Greece, Croatia, Thailand and worldwide.

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Comments (20)

  1. Carolyn says:

    It has got to be said that throughout Europe, countries are increasingly doing Christmas very well. I like nothing more than wrapping up with a favourite hat and scarf to head into the Christmas markets.

    I love topping up on Christmas decorations to freshen up the Christmas tree. Shopping for original presents at a Christmas market is always going to produce more thoughtful gifts than sitting at home in my armchair and shopping online.

    My big tip for Christmas shopping is to drink in plenty of warming mulled wine to keep the cold at bay.

    • Steve says:

      Yes, it’s the mulled wine that keeps me going. My wife goes into overdrive at Christmas markets and I end-up carrying as many bags as a pack horse.

    • Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande says:

      I love your tip, Carolyne. I love a good old hot chocolate as well.

  2. Sheila says:

    Some of my friends travel big distances to get to Christmas markets in Europe when they’ve got fantastic Christmas markets here on their doorstep in Britain. Though, from what I’ve seen people have been slow to book Christmas market trips this year. Firstly they were worried about getting in and out of Europe after a no-deal Brexit and secondly the pound is already so weak that they’d hardly be able to afford a piece of second-hand tinsel. If they read this post they will realise that we have great markets here in Britain. Also this year the markets will be packed with tourists getting plenty of great deals.

  3. Janet Gordon says:

    You don’t have to go to the big cities to get a good Christmas market.

    In our town we have a Christmas market for one night only. The high street is closed to traffic from about 3.30 and then Christmas takes over.

    As it’s for one everyone comes to town and it’s a brilliant social evening. There are some people who I haven’t seen all year but I know that they will turn up at the Christmas market.

    • Antaliah Moosa says:

      Janet agree with that! Every country, city, town and village celebrate Christmas in their own special way. But I guess, the Christmas Markets being set up in big cities have their own charm- something out of the blue. These markets are the reason why I always choose to travel back home to UK during the short winter break- instead of long summer holidays. We feel it’s more worthwhile. My kids prefer that way too.
      Anyway to each their own!

  4. Craig says:

    You might think that December is not a great time to visit Britain but that’s not true at all. Yes, the days are short but the people and shops go to great lengths with their Christmas decorations. Any good pub will have a roaring log fire. Then there are these Christmas markets and hundreds of others too. Oh, at the theatres it’s pantomime time and you‘ll get some really good Carol Services too.

  5. Matt says:

    If you are planning to do the Blenheim Illuminated Trail set aside some time to drop into the quaint Olde World village as well. Good pubs and restaurants with indie shops too, they don’t make villages like that any more.

  6. Maria says:

    London is such a magical place when Christmas is approaching. I always visit Christmas markets in London, is like a tradition for me and my sister.

  7. Selena Arora says:

    What about the famous Frankfurt Christmas and Craft Market set up in Birmingham? It’s the largest in UK amd also the most authentic of all German Markets set up in the region. I wont be wrong to call it the life of the Birmingham city in winters. It hosts a plethora of colorful stalls selling eatables, gifts, traditional goods, toys, wine and everything that counts to make a memorable Christmas. This year, it’s starting from 7th November and will wind up till 23rd of December.
    P.S. Don’t forget to visit my stall. As always, I will be selling some divine piping hot chocolate to satisfy your choco cravings.

    • James says:

      The Frankfurt Christmas Market is something I am always desperately looking forward to. Do you have any clue how many stalls will roughly be there this year?

  8. James says:

    My late Grandma always used to eagerly wait for the Edinburgh Christmas Market to get hands on some amazing deals and discounts on household essentials and toys. I literally grew up, walking in the lanes of this market every year in winters. The creative revamp with the introduction of silent disco and new stalls sounds appealing. May be, I have got a reason to visit the place with my little munchkins now.

    • Hafsah Ali says:

      What a great idea to take your old grandparent to these lively Christmas Markets!! But mine is bed-ridden. So, is it feasible to take her there on a wheel-chair. I am sure she is gonna love it!! But I don’t wanna get stuck in throngs of visitors after every few steps as it would only cause her discomfort.
      Would appreciate if someone can share their similar personal experiences!! And, if possible, recommend the best wheelchair accessible Xmas Markets in London!

  9. Sudesh Mithan says:

    Will be flying to Britain next month for the first time. Just concerned with the level of security in these Christmas Markets. My twins are big time trouble-makers. Running here and there in busy places like maniacs. So, I hope these are safe in that aspect. Also, what is the least crowded time of the day to visit these markets?

  10. Jo Fordham says:

    I would also add the Bath Christmas market. It’s beautiful in Bath at any time of year but especially so at Christmas as they do gorgeous decorations and the place has a sense of warmth. Some markets can get too overcrowded and it doesn’t feel all that pleasant, but I’ve found bath to still feel friendly, and the stalls on offer are usually pretty decent. I went to Camden last year for my London day trip for the winter season; I’m yet to go to Hyde Park for their Winter Wonderland so maybe I can do that this year!

  11. Kirsty Finch says:

    Oh wowzers, Blenheim Palace looks amazing at Christmas! I’ve never even thought of going there during Christmas. I think adding the market in more recent years is a good idea, it’s nice to have something extra to do because you can only look at pretty lights for so long. Do you have to pay the same entrance fee as you do for the rest of the year to check out the illuminated trail and markets? I’ll have to investigate, I wouldn’t mind going there in a few weeks so I’ll have to see when it starts and how much it costs.

  12. Jen Scott says:

    Winchester is gorgeous at Christmas, I’m glad that’s on the list. One of the first big Christmas markets I remember going to as a kid was Birmingham. I went back again a couple of years for it and it seems to get bigger, so while it can get incredibly busy and crowded, it’s pretty impressive and there’s a lot to look around in terms of markets. It’s the largest German xmas market aside from Austria or Germany I think, so I’d add that to the list. Bristol isn’t bad either, on a smaller scale but still with lots of lovely things to see and do.

  13. Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande says:

    I love your tip, Carolyne. I love a good old hot chocolate as well.

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