The best Christmas markets to visit this year
Covent Garden Christmas market
London has lots to offer when it comes to seasonal markets, but the Christmas market at Covent Garden has to be the most festive. The Piazza, Market Building, Neal's Yard and Seven Dials are transformed into a winter wonderland during December, so you can spend a whole evening here exploring. Shop for handmade presents in the Market Building, which is decked out with gigantic bells, baubles and disco balls. Get a photo on Santa’s sleigh, out on the swing seat in the North Piazza, or under the daily snow showers on the West Piazza. And don’t miss the free show by London's International Gospel Choir every Thursday night, which is also when the shops stay open late.
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Bristol Christmas Market
Bang in the middle of the city centre, Bristol’s Christmas market is well worth a visit in December. Head to Broadmead, the pedestrianised shopping area, and you’ll find traditional wooden chalets selling everything from delicate Christmas tree decorations to steaming mugs of mulled wine. There’s live music in the Jäger Barn Bar and you can book private igloos or gondolas if you fancy splashing out with friends. This year there’s also a 15-metre tall Big Wheel to ride for brilliant views, and a special Christmas escape room experience. Round up a group of up to eight and see if you can make it out in time.
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Edinburgh Christmas market
Edinburgh’s Christmas market runs all the way up until the first weekend of January, which means Hogmanay – Scotland’s NYE celebration – is all part of the festive fun. This one’s a biggie, with events happening all over the city, but if you’re looking for the Christmas market just head straight to East Princes Street Gardens. This is where you’ll find about 70 stalls selling everything from toys and gifts to festive food, and it’s completely free to enter. There’s also the Big Wheel – Scotland’s biggest at 46 metres tall – and more rides like the Star Flyer and Helter Skelter. There are even more over on George Street, as well as an artisan Christmas market and an undercover ice rink – so you can skate whatever the weather.
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Leeds Christmas market
After a four-year closure, Leeds Christmas market is back for 2023 and this time it’s spread across the city centre. Expect around 120 market stalls scattered all the way from the ice rink at Millennium Square to the giant advent calendar at Leeds Corn Exchange, with lots clustered around Briggate and New Briggate. There’ll be outdoor bar areas on Briggate, Quebec Street and Dortmund Square, and a nutcracker trail to follow around the attractions. There’s a line-up of special festive stalls and markets inside Kirkgate Market, too – and you might spot Santa shopping in here if you’re lucky.
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Plymouth Christmas Market
Plymouth’s Christmas market takes over the piazza for the first half of December, with more than 50 festive cabins selling everything from dainty jewellery to personalised tree decorations and foodie gifts from Devon and Cornwall. There’s a stage area hosting performances from choirs and bands, and an all-important Santa’s grotto. While you’re in town, make sure you get a selfie with Mr Kriss – one of the biggest illuminated Santa sculptures in the country. Thanks to 10,000 lights, you can’t miss him illuminating The Parade – where he’ll be until the end of December.
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Cardiff Christmas Market
Cardiff’s Christmas market has been a big deal for decades and runs every day until 23 December. There’s a big focus on handmade and artisan gifts, and on some stalls you can even watch local makers in action as you shop. That means you can fill your bags with one-off trinkets you won’t find on the High Street, so there’s no chance of duplicate gifts under the tree. There are about 70 stalls and they’re spread across the area around St John Street, Working Street, Trinity Street and Hills Street. It’s the main shopping area of the city, so your shopping list will be well and truly ticked off by the time you head home.
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