The Best Christmas Markets in England

Christmas Market at Southbank
The Christmas Stalls along the Southbank. flickr: aurelien

The most popular Christmas markets in England are just the thing that’ll give you that Christmassy feeling you had as a child. With only a few days left and hundreds of markets to visit, the pressure’s on to find the perfect one or try your best to fit them all in before the season’s over.

Birmingham

A trip to the continent may not be reasonable for many folks, but thankfully, if you can’t make it to the land of gluhwein and bratwurst, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the next best thing. Running from November 14 to December 22, this German-style market offers all the traditional cuisines like pretzels, mulled wine, bratwurst, and good old German beer. Don’t let the delicious scents of gingerbread and marzipans distract you for too long though. With over 180 stalls of every sort of hand-crafted gift imaginable, you’ll want to set aside plenty of time for browsing the buzzing streets of one of England’s most popular markets.

Southbank, London

The 80 wooden chalets that line the southern bank of the Thames provide a similar, yet slightly less extravagant, atmosphere as Birmingham. At the Southbank Centre Christmas Market, you will again find all the traditional German foods and crafts, but this time set to the twinkling background of London’s central river. Southbank’s market also hosts an interactive stall where children can make their own Christmas cards, along with a “pocket money” booth which sells many affordable gift options. Beginning the 16th of November, this market runs every day all the way up to Christmas Eve.

Manchester

Boasting over 300 festive stalls and chalets, Manchester hosts a truly international market experience.  As one of the UK’s biggest Christmas markets, the Manchester Christmas Market includes tons of handcrafted trinkets. Food lovers especially will thrive in this environment, with booths serving up every sort of holiday chow imaginable. From Hungarian goulash and French bread to Spanish chorizos and Dutch cheese, you will surely find something to satisfy your hunger here. Stalls open on the 18th of November and remain open every day of the week up until December 22nd.

Hyde Park, London

Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland consists of far more than your traditional Christmas market. At this extravaganza, you can watch the bustling below from atop the observatory wheel, skate on the famous ice rink, or watch one of the Zippo circuses. Grub options include ice bars with holiday beverages, sit-down restaurants, or bites-to-go from chalets. Winter Wonderland includes not one but two Christmas markets displaying countless gifts, souvenirs, and holiday decorations. The festival begins Friday 22nd November, and the fun continues all the way into the new year. The colourful lights and extravagance of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is by far one of the most atmospheric and festive places to visit.

York

York hosts the St. Nicholas Fayre, a small-scale market compared to Hyde Park, but in a category all of its own. The St. Nicholas Fayre ushers in a medieval Christmas celebration, brimming with Victorian-style characters and live crafting in the streets. Scents of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts paired with the cheerful voices of street carollers will fill you with merry spirits. Set in the historic and picturesque town of York, and offering the very best local produce and locally crafted gifts, this market is English through and through. The Fayre only lasts a short while though, so make sure to stop by between the 28th of November and the 1st of December.

Bath Christmas Market
Christmas stalls outside Bath Abbey. flickr: heatheronhertravels

Bath

Every market has its charming features, but the Bath Christmas Market ranks high as one of the most visually delightful markets. An illuminated Bath Abbey serves as the backdrop to this market set on the quaint city square, right next to the ancient Roman baths. More than a hundred craftsmen and women will share their work at the stalls of Bath’s market, offering unusual gifts you won’t find elsewhere.  A host of entertainments occur throughout the 18-day festival, including services and shows in the Abbey as well as street performances and carols. The unique Georgian atmosphere of Bath’s Christmas Market kicks off on 28 November.

Oxford

The bustling and crowded market streets may not appeal to everyone, which is why the Oxford market made it on our list of best Christmas markets in England. With just 40 stalls, visitors to Oxford will find the perfect blend of character and charm, historic venues, and Christmas spirit. What Oxford’s German-style market lacks in size, it makes up for in magic. Local choirs echo through the streets, bring about a jolly atmosphere, and Oxford’s “dreaming spires” make up the city skyline to create an all-around cosy and charming holiday experience. This market only runs from 13 December to 22 December, but it’s one you don’t want to miss.