Top Five UK Christmas Markets
Our ultimate shopping guide to help you make the most of the season.
There’s nothing like a bit of retail therapy among twinkly lights and the aroma of mulled wine to get into the Christmas spirit.
All over Europe and the UK, Christmas markets are springing up, tempting folk into nipping away for a few days of fun and cheer and getting the Christmas shopping done at the same time.
The choice of fairy-tale Christmas markets in Europe is outstanding and these really are a cut above but if you don’t have the time or cash to jet off to the likes of Germany, Austria or Prague, there’s still some beautiful options closer to home to get your Christmas underway.
Let the magical atmosphere take over, casting its wintry spell over you as you meander through snow covered stalls filled with tasty treats, local crafts, gifts and toys as the heady aroma of roasting chestnuts and fill the air. Don’t you just love that fuzzy, Christmassy feeling? Everything looks different in winter light, especially at dusk when the glow from the Christmas trees and shop window displays turn towns and cities into twinkling wonderlands.
Our top five favourite Christmas market locations in the UK also happen to have some of the best shopping outlets and luxury department stores there too, so you can always get in from the cold if you can’t find what you’re looking for among the outdoor stalls.
First up, we have Edinburgh, which is spellbinding at the best of times but in November and December when the city has all her glitter on, the wow factor goes up to a whole new level.
Princes Street and East Princes Street Gardens becomes a winter fairy-tale scene as the street vendors take up residence among fairground rides and mesmerising Christmas lights all set against the magnificent backdrop of Edinburgh Castle which towers over the proceedings, keeping watch from the top of The Mound.
Here you will find bespoke and traditional Christmas gifts and trinkets as well as a great choice of food and drink outlets. There are also quaint market stalls along George Street (which runs parallel to Princes Street) and home to luxury brands such as LK Bennett, Phase Eight, Thomas Pink and many more. You’ll also find a string of Edinburgh’s top restaurants and bars on this beautiful street of the Old Town such as Le Monde, Tigerlily, The Dome and Jamie’s Italian. And don’t miss Jenners – the famous department store on Princes Street.
For more info on what’s on check out the official Edinburgh Christmas website, including opening times.
Further south, we have Manchester and this city also comes alive during the festive period. Manchester attracts a cool crowd of shoppers all year round but at Christmas it’s pretty special. Christmas markets in Manchester pop up at several locations:
- Albert Square
- Brazennose Street
- St Ann’s Square
- Exchange Street
- New Cathedral Street
- The Corn Exchange
- King Street
- Market Street
- Exchange Square
- Cathedral Gardens
All offering yuletide gifts and international food and drink. Additionally, if you’re looking for everything under one roof and undercover, you can’t beat The intu Trafford Centre where you’ll find all the big hitters such as John Lewis, Debenhams, Selfridges & Co, Zara, Hollister and Hamley’s.
For a more quaint and traditional experience, why not try Bath this year? This award-winning Bath Christmas Market boasts over 200 chalet stalls which line the pretty Georgian streets. As well as the magical atmosphere of the market, Bath also has an impressive calendar of festive events to add to your experience. You can also browse the lovely selection of independent boutiques as well as high street staples in this beautiful spa town.
Now, we couldn’t possibly leave out London when it comes to shopping, could we? The Great British capital is a mecca for the retail faithful at any time of the year but nowhere does Christmas quite like London. Talk about getting blinged up! The lights of Oxford Street and Regent Street have become part of the city’s story and visitors flock from all over to see them at this time of year. We probably don’t need to remind you that London is one of the best places for shopping you could ever imagine. Here you have Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty, Harvey Nichols, Fenwick of Bond Street and the famous Fortnum & Mason for all your fancy festive foodstuffs and beverages.
Moreover, there’s amazing stuff going on all over the city but one of the highlights has to be the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
Here you will find over 200 Bavarian style market stalls selling all manner of tasty goodies, gifts, jewellery, accessories and unique Christmas decorations.
Shopping aside, you can enjoy a whole host of things to see and do like ice skating, Zippo’s Christmas Circus, The Sooty Christmas Show and there’s even a super cool, trendy Ice Bar!
And last but by no means least, we’re taking you across the water to the annual Belfast Christmas market which takes place in the heart of the city.
Here you will find cheery alpine chalets offering handmade jewellery, continental foods and festive arts and crafts.
You won’t need to go far if you’re looking for the joys of a shopping mall. Head for Victoria Square where you will find a whole array of retailers such as H&M, Hobbs, Karen Millen, House of Fraser, Monsoon and Ted Baker and loads more.
All of these destinations really come alive once they’ve had their festive makeovers and a day or two away to get the Christmas shopping done can really make this chore a more enjoyable experience. Why not treat yourself and maybe grab a cheeky wee night out while you’re there. Tis the season to be jolly, after all!