If you’re wondering which is the best Christmas market to visit in the UK this year, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve picked out five Christmas markets that tick all the boxes, from stalls stacked with festive foods, to stands loaded with stocking fillers.
Most of the markets also come with extras like ice skating rinks, fairground rides and Santa’s grottoes – so you can wrap up warm and make a day of it.
We’ve also included essential details about opening times and dates for 2016, as well as how to get there. Happy haggling…
1. Manchester Christmas markets, 1 November to 20 December
With almost 350 stalls spread across 10 different zones, Manchester Christmas Market is easily one of the biggest in the UK. It opened on 10 November and runs all the way through to 20 December, with the hub of the action – Albert Square – opening for one extra day on 21 December.
The market itself has a European theme, so you can pick up lots of one-of-a-kind gifts you won’t find on the high street, like hand-crafted jewellery and wooden trinkets. Food-wise, you can expect everything from traditional German bratwurst and giant Belgian waffles, to hearty hog roasts and flavoured mulled wines.
The market also has a brand-new addition for 2016, The Rink at Cathedral Gardens, which runs all the way through to 8 January. It’s open every day apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and it’s where you’ll find most of the family-friendly activities.
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2. Edinburgh Christmas markets, 19 November to 7 January
Edinburgh’s European Christmas Market opens for six weeks over the festive period, and completely takes over East Princes Street Gardens in the heart of the city. Crafters, artists and foodies set up shop here from 10:00 until 22:00, in one of Scotland’s longest-running markets.
The circular ice rink at St Andrews Square is close by, as is Santa Land – the family-friendly area – which is also home to a children’s market.
Meanwhile, over in George Street, the Scottish Market runs from 26 November until 24 December. This is where you’ll find local arts and crafts, as well as traditional Scottish fare, so you can wash your haggis down with a wee dram of whisky.
Plus, the west end of George Street will become the Street of Light when it’s lit up with 60,000 light bulbs. Also called Light Night, it opens on 20 November when the city’s Christmas tree lights are switched on.
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3. London Christmas markets – various dates
When it comes to Christmas markets in London, you’re spoilt for choice this year. There’s a brand new market opening in Leicester Square in the heart of the city, which also has a Santa’s grotto and a programme of festive shows. It runs all the way from 11 November to 8 January, so you can still visit in the New Year.
On the other side of the Thames there’s another market at the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival, which runs from 11 November to 25 January. Plus, there’s a huge market at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, with more than 200 stalls. This one’s open from 18 November to 2 January, and entry into the park is free.
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4. Liverpool Christmas Market, 18 November to 22 December
Liverpool’s Christmas Market is moving to a new location this year: St George’s Plateau outside St George’s Hall. It opens on 18 November, at the same time as the new Harry Potter film – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – in which the iconic Liverpool landmark features.
Not only that, but St George’s Hall will be hosting DreamWorks Lights, a huge lantern installation featuring film characters like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. It opens from 26 November until 15 January, so you can take a look after you’ve had your fill of festive treats at the Christmas market.
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5. Birmingham Christmas Market, 17 November to 29 December
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market has been running for more than 15 years and is now the biggest of its kind outside of Germany or Austria. Around 180 stalls will take over Victoria Square and New Street for 2016’s bumper event, which runs all the way through to 29 December to mark Birmingham’s 50th year in partnership with Frankfurt.
As well as Christmas gifts and decorations like hand-crafted wooden toys and delicate baubles, there’s plenty of traditional German food and drink on offer. That means pretzels, schnitzels, stollen and Glühwein are all on the menu at the various stalls, which close every day at 21:00.
If you’re visiting for the day, pay a visit to Birmingham’s Christmas Craft Market while you’re here. It’s over in Centenary Square and it’s packed with one-off creations.
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Take a look at all our Christmas ticket options.