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For the ultimate Christmas shopping experience, avoid the busy high street chain stores and follow the sound of brass bands and the smell of Glühwein to a traditional Christmas market. Browse the stalls for unique and homemade gifts before warming up with a bratwurst or an indulgent hot chocolate.
Here are thirteen spectacular Christmas markets where you can tick off your present list in one enchanting evening. Which one’s your favourite?
8 – 18 December
Oxford Christmas Market will take pride of place on central Broad Street in Oxford this year; a stone’s throw from the Bodleian Library, Ashmolean Museum and Radcliffe Camera. Local choirs and bands will perform throughout the 11 days and children can delight in riding on the Victorian carousel.
The market consists of around 60 festive stalls – all against the backdrop of Oxford’s stunning Christmas tree and the historic Oxford University Colleges. There will be stallholders selling natural, handmade decorations and gifts, while warming food and drink will include German Bratwurst, Churros with hot chocolate sauce, and traditional Glühwein.
10 November – 20 December
Photo Credit: Mark Waugh
Manchester’s festive celebrations transform the city into a winter wonderland where the magic of the season is brought to life. With over 300 stalls across ten market sites, it’s no surprise that Manchester Christmas Market was voted one of Europe’s best. Boasting a huge array of food, drink and gift ideas, the markets are a Christmas dream come true.
The family-friendly area at Festive Cathedral Gardens promises fun for all ages – and this year, the market’s first ever ice rink will take pride of place until 8 January. The fair at the gardens includes a Ferris wheel, a vintage carousel, a Helter Skelter and a tea cup ride open from 10am until 9pm every day.
18 November – 20 December
Founded in 2006, the Winchester Christmas Market celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. It’s recognised as one of the best in Europe and loved for its unique location; nestled beside the cathedral in its historic close and surrounded by an ice rink.
There are over 100 chalets filled with high quality exhibitors, hand-picked for their interesting, unique and exclusive products. You’ll find British crafts, independent traders and festive artisan foods, as well as regular performances by local choirs.
24 November – 11 December
The 2016 Bath Christmas Market occupies a stunning location in the heart of the city, nestled between the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. Over 170 wooden chalets line the picturesque streets and squares, offering local artwork, handmade Christmas decorations, bespoke jewellery, homewares, festive food and drink, toys, accessories and even gifts for pets.
The streets will be filled with music and festive joy during the Bath Christmas market and Bath Abbey will be opening its doors for Shoppers’ Carols. Weary shoppers can drop into The Lodge for comforting winter food and warming tipples from Bath Ales. The relaxing rustic décor make The Lodge the perfect place to take a well-earned rest and soak up the festive atmosphere.
24 November – 18 December
Salisbury Christmas Market transforms the heart of a beautiful medieval cathedral city into a winter wonderland with its authentic, German-market-style wooden chalets. Known for hosting the most diverse and vibrant collection of exhibitors, there is a strong British presence among our international exhibitors – the majority of whom are local, or south-west-based producers.
With a wealth of entertainment and events organised for the duration of the market, there really is no better place to be between.
24 November – 21 December
Cheery red and green chalets make a welcome return to Swansea’s Oxford Street where over 50 traders will be offering a fantastic selection of arts, crafts, fine foods, beautiful decorations and unique gifts. Enjoy festive food on the go and treat yourself to a mulled wine to keep out the chill, then get ready to blitz your Christmas list!
In addition, our traditional covered Swansea Market is at the heart of the city centre and open throughout the year. It has all the ingredients for a perfect Christmas feast with fresh local produce from land and sea. Once your shopping’s done, round off a perfect day at Waterfront Winterland with a spot of ice-skating, or take in the views over the Bay from the top of the Giant Wheel!
18 November – 18 December
Chester Christmas Market returns to the heart of the city with over 70 traditional timber chalets wrapped around a huge, sparkling Christmas tree. Expect artisan crafts and speciality foods with a regional feel, set in the city’s beautiful Town Hall square opposite Chester Cathedral.
Quintessentially British, this market serves mulled wine not Glühwein!
24 – 27 November
Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre is more than just a market. With over 300 stalls situated in locations throughout the town, you’re sure to find a Christmas gift for everyone. Starting with an opening night parade of over 100 local school children and a spectacular firework display, the fayre finishes with a traditional carol service accompanied by the Salvation Army Band.
Add in a mix of free children’s entertainment, real reindeer, Santa in his grotto, elves in their sorting office and cookery demonstrations with free tastings, you’ll be back for more the next day.
19 November – 7 January
With over 140 stalls from Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Belgium, this Christmas market is one of the largest in the UK. There’s a whole host of edible goodies including bratwurst, Glüwein and gingerbread, as well as handcrafted jewellery, Christmas ornaments, carved wooden gifts, woolly hats and scarves, scented candles and more.
The popular Scottish Market on George Street runs from 26 November – 24 December and includes some excellent traders such as Mimi’s Bakery, St Andrew’s Eden Mill, Strathearn Distillery, Blacks Cheese and Romanes & Paterson. Be sure to make time to sample their wares and take some home for Christmas.
Sunday 4 December
Following the success of the Billericay Christmas Market in 2015 that saw over 20,000 visitors and £20,000 raised for charity, the Rotary Club of Billericay Mayflower will be once again kicking off the Christmas season in style. Head to Billericay High Street to enjoy the UK crafts, farmers markets, continental market and high street shops, while at the same time contributing to the good causes of the charity stalls also participating.
Entry to the event is free, as are Santa’s Grotto and Punch ‘n’ Judy. Santa’s Parade, led by a pipe and drum band to his Grotto, starts at 11am, so don’t be late! You’ll also find donkey rides, a small funfair, live entertainment on two stages, carols in the church and lots of traditional Christmas fare.
12 November – 23 December
What makes the Cardiff Christmas Market so unique? It’s the wide selection of bespoke gifts that are only available to purchase directly from very talented makers. Over 80 wooden stalls will be dotted along Cardiff city centre in St John Street, Working Street, Hills Street, Trinity Street and the Hayes.
For a little Christmas tipple, you’ll be able to buy some locally made craft beers and ciders. Fancy a sweet treat? Come along and get your hands on homemade jam, chutney and fudge, too: great for stocking fillers.
12 – 13 November
Now in its 7th year, the Christmas Home, Food & Gift Market is a handpicked festive shopping event. It offers an array of delicious food, seasonal gifts, festive décor for the home and garden as well as handmade jewellery and other unique products.
With over 100 stallholders in a stunning heritage venue, the Christmas market is a fabulously festive day out. The event also offers a pop-up Tea Room, Prosecco Bar and delicious hot food.
1 – 4 December
With more than 2,000 years of history, Lincoln is the perfect place to visit over the festive period. Take a trip back through time and stroll along the cobbles to the cultural quarter of the city. The medieval square between the impressive Norman castle and magnificent gothic cathedral is the perfect backdrop for the Christmas Market.
It’s the oldest Christmas market in the UK and began as a traditional German Christmas Market in 1982 with just 11 stalls. It was brought to the UK as part of Lincoln’s friendship and twinning with Neustadt in Germany. From these humble beginnings, the market now takes over most of the city’s historic cathedral quarter with more than 200 stalls springing up for four days at the beginning of December.[socialpoll id=”2397969″]