Where is the best Christmas market in the UK?
Come November, joyful yuletide markets are merrily sprinkled from Exeter to Edinburgh. They bring with them traditional toys, trinkets and treats – you’ll find gifts for just about everyone - as well as plenty of delicious food and tempting seasonal tipples like mulled wine or warm spiced cider. Some Christmas Markets include entertainment, from Victorian fairground rides to ice rinks, to make the trip extra special. There’s nothing better to get you into the festive spirit. But which city has the best Christmas Market? Here’s our top ten:
The Top 10 Best Christmas Markets
Exeter Christmas Markets take place annually on Cathedral Green in front of the magnificent gothic splendour of Exeter Cathedral. In the warren of charming wooden chalets, shimmering with fairy lights, you’ll find an eclectic mix of local and continental traders selling 'unique, handmade and unusual' gifts for friends and family. Of course, there are plenty of seasonal food and drinks to enjoy too, from local West Country produce to global street food. Extras include things like carol singing, bands, theatrical performances and services at the cathedral.
The Leeds German Market, or Christkindelmarkt, is one of the longest running traditional German Christmas Markets in the UK. You’ll find pretty chalets selling seasonal gifts and German delicacies, including bratwurst sausages, schnitzel and warming mugs of glühwein. The cosy Alp Chalet is a laid-back restaurant serving tasty treats like red deer medallions and roast pork with crackling while a live band plays. There's also the Ski Hutte - an apres-ski inspired bar, or the Kuhstall, where you can warm up with a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate while sitting around a roaring fire. Head to the Leeds Wheel of Light for the best views of the local landscape.
At Cardiff's Christmas Markets the focus is firmly on local and handmade. You'll find a vast array of arts and crafts stalls selling anything from ceramics and artworks to clothing, jewellery, Christmas decorations, local produce, hot food and drink and traditional Welsh artisanal delights which you can buy directly from the makers. A fixture for over the 30 years, it is ideally located in St John Street, Working Street, the Hayes and Trinity Street in the heart of Cardiff’s pedestrianised city centre, close to the city’s main shopping district, eateries and quaint Edwardian and Victorian arcades. Bute Park and Cardiff Castle are also nearby, making it a great base for a day out.
You'll find Liverpool's Christmas markets on William Brown Street with the beautiful backdrop of St George's Hall. As well as festive cabins offering German delights – including bratwurst and schnitzel – there’s global street food and indulgent treats like doughnuts and mulled wine. You’ll be sorted for all sorts of gifts too, from unusual Christmas decorations to handmade jewellery. There are plenty of yuletide-themed bars to peruse, for instance, a ski bar, windmill bar, tipi bar and Bavarian bar with live music. And, if that wasn’t enough, you can also enjoy Santa and snow themed rides including a big wheel for a spectacular view of the city.
In the run up to Christmas, Nottingham's Old Market Square and Long Row are transformed into a glorious light-filled Winter Wonderland, complete with a raised ice skating rink – with a skate-through bar and a fantastic view of the shoppers down below in the dozens of sparkling seasonal stalls. You’ll also find traditional fairground fun including a Helter Skelter, plus a Swedish-style Ice Bar- where you can enjoy temperatures as low as -10 degrees (!) – coats and hats are provided. Warm up at one of the many eateries, Melt & Grill, where you can devour a hearty Swiss dish …raclette cheese melted over potatoes and served with pickles, before browsing the plentiful craft stalls to pick up gifts from local and international traders.
The Christmas Markets in Broadmead Piazza transform Bristol's Shopping Quarter during the festive season. As well as around 40 twinkling cabin stalls nestled under a giant Christmas tree, you’ll find German food and drink aplenty. At the Jager barn bar you can enjoy a Bailey’s hot chocolate, glühwein or mulled cider on heated seats, while listening to live music. You can even order food and drink in your own private and cosy igloo or gondola. Minutes away in the old town you’ll find the more traditional St Nick's Christmas Market, selling locally made goods from handmade gifts and art to produce like local cider, craft beers from, for instance, The Bristol Beer Factory, jams, cheeses and chutneys as well as some inspired global food options from the Caribbean to the Middle East.
The narrow cobbled streets and medieval architecture of glorious York make the perfect backdrop for a Christmas market. For over 30 years, York's St Nicholas Fair has offered a truly special shopping and culinary experience with around 70 beautifully decorated independent stalls selling artisan crafts like candles, jewellery and sustainable clothing plus local delicacies including Yorkshire Pudding beer and chocolates from York Cocoa House. Many stalls even offer a discount for local residents. Found along Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square, festive food options include the Alpine themed Winter Hutte or the Scandi-Viking themed Thor’s Tipi. Youngsters can visit Santa’s Grotto and enjoy traditional fairground rides.
Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair is billed as the largest German market of its kind outside of Germany and Austria and is brimming with Bavarian delights. You'll find a huge range of festive decorations, toys, baubles, jewellery, accessories and sweet treats at the many stalls. The scent of sizzling German sausages like bratwursts fill the air, and you'll find firm favourites like schnitzel, strudel and Berliner doughnuts too. And of course, there’s plenty of steaming glühwein, Weiss (‘wheat’) beer and creamy hot chocolates. Locally-made hand-crafted items and imported global goods are mixed with brightly-lit fairground attractions. In Victoria Square you’ll find live music and carol singers to add a superb seasonal atmosphere.
The centre of the beautiful Georgian World Heritage City of Bath is transformed with hundreds of sparkling wooden chalets at Christmas with its traditional Christmas Market selling all the gifts, food and decorations you could imagine. Sustainability, and positivity are the watch words for this event which raises money for local charities. Most stalls are run by small and micro businesses from the South West, so it's a great opportunity to support local traders while Christmas shopping. You'll find local artwork, handmade Christmas decorations, small batch 6 O’ Clock Gin, jewellery and toys for sale, alongside delicious seasonal food. Nearby Bath On Ice, an ice skating rink with an Alpine Bar and ‘Glow Golf’, will keep the whole family entertained.
Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets and Winter Festivals – and, of course, Hogmanay - are rightly world renowned and take over the centre of the city with exuberant festivities. Edinburgh's European Christmas Market is centred on East Princes Street Gardens with over 100 stalls, open daily till 10pm with a huge array of celebratory gifts, decorations, and tasty treats - from Harry Potter themed presents to mulled Irn Bru - to get you in the seasonal spirit. As well as Bavarian delicacies, you’ll also find an artisan market packed with Scottish produce, plus Santa Land which includes a Children's Market, an ice rink, carousel, helter-skelter and the chance to listen to stories told by Santa himself!
‘Tis the season to be jolly at our Christmas open days
The McCarthy Stone communities are busy getting into the yuletide spirit with events up and down the country during November and December. A warm welcome awaits at our open days which offer seasonal delights like Christmas cocktails, festive baking and wreath-making workshops - accompanied by mince pies, mulled wine and the chance to look around our gorgeous retirement developments. Why not pop in and join us?