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As a festive shopping experience, a Christmas market is tough to beat. You can find one-of-a-kind gifts, delicious food to feast on and warming tipples to keep you toasty even on the coldest of days. Our list of 15 includes the UK’s busiest, Birmingham’s Frankfurt market, as well as a few smaller-scale celebrations that are just as spectacular.
We’ve got ideas on where to stay nearby too. It’s a great excuse (not that you need one) to treat yourself to a mini-break so you can relax in a holiday rental at the end of a successful day of pressie-hunting.
When? 26 November – 13 December
Head to the historic city of Bath this Christmas and you’ll find yourself exploring a magical maze of 170 wooden chalet huts lining the streets. Browse and you’ll discover hand-blown glass, unique clothing, fair trade stationery and artisan bath products to name but a few.
The market has a real local flavour too with over 80 per cent of the stallholders coming from the city and surrounding area. Exhausted after all the shopping? Order a warming drink and soak up the festive atmosphere at the market’s new indoor venue, the Lodge.
Fancy a festive visit to Bath? Search Bath holiday homes.
When? 20 November – 4 January
The romantic streets of Edinburgh provide the perfect setting to get into the Christmas spirit. The traditional European market runs through the picturesque East Princes Street Gardens with stalls showcasing crafters and artists as well as plenty of delights for foodies to sample.
Edinburgh’s Christmas is more than the market; there’s a big wheel, an ice rink and a charming carousel too. You can make that festive feeling last a little longer as well, as the market runs until 4 January: perfect if you’re celebrating New Year north of the border.
Spend an enchanting few days in an Edinburgh rental before Christmas.
When? 3 – 6 December
Lincoln’s medieval cobbled streets, soaring cathedral towers and thousand-year old castle walls make this one magical Christmas market. This year (the 32nd that the market has taken place) there’ll be 250 stalls to explore offering traditional German treats like warming Glühwein as well as crafts and gifts.
Street performers including organ players, dancers and circus acts enhance the whole experience. You’d better be quick though: this glorious celebration of all things Christmas is only on for four days.
Book a Lincoln holiday home for an early Christmas getaway.
When? 10 – 20 December
Oxford will be ringing with the sound of choirs singing carols when the annual Christmas Market returns to historic Broad Street this December. The array of handmade gifts on offer, including ceramics, accessories and sweet treats, is sure to satisfy even the pickiest person on your list.
While you wander from stall to stall, treat yourself to some mouth-watering German bratwürst or a vegetarian “Not Dog”, all washed down with some mulled wine (or warm spiced apple juice if you’re driving). It’s a glorious festive experience and one not to be missed.
Take a trip to Oxford at the most wonderful time of the year.
When? 26 November – 20 December
76 chalets decorated with twinkling fairy lights welcome you when you arrive at Salisbury’s Guildhall Square for the city’s Christmas Market. Listen to the comforting sound of a brass band as you search the stalls, and tuck into traditional treats like stollen.
Don’t miss the magical Christmas lantern parade on 3 December where families can get involved in the spectacular procession from Cathedral Close to the Square, carrying their own light-up creations. And, of course, Father Christmas will be there to listen to present requests too…
Book a seasonal stay in Salisbury.
When? 5 – 6 December
The picturesque market town of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, will be channelling the Christmas spirit over the first weekend in December. The event follows an Edwardian theme with the Market Square and surrounding cobbled streets decorated to evoke times gone by.
There’s lively entertainment to be enjoyed too with Morris dancing, traditional brass band music and charming performances by young musicians and choirs from the local area. And you won’t be able to resist the enticing aromas of mulled wine, mince pies and roasting chestnuts.
Soak up the Yuletide atmosphere in a holiday home near Knaresborough.
When? 5 – 6 December
Over the last few years, the Christmas market at Fowey has become Cornwall’s biggest. Traders line the town quayside bringing their wares as well as a special seaside buzz to the festive season. Handmade jewellery, unique craft beers and organic health and beauty products are all inspiring parts of the browsing experience.
There’s live music to enjoy all weekend too and the Fowey Estuary provides a picture-postcard backdrop to enjoy the bustling atmosphere.
Feel merry and bright in a Fowey holiday rental.
When? 3 – 6 December
The fishing port of Padstow, on Cornwall’s north coast, is a desirable location for a getaway at any time of year. But visit during the first weekend in December and you’ll be treated to its charming Christmas market. Local celebrity chef, Rick Stein, supports the event ad so food is unsurprisingly a main feature: chefs give live demonstrations throughout the weekend.
Don’t forget to pick up some truly unique gifts inspired by the beauty of the local area: home-lovers will be delighted with a seaside painting by a local artist, whilst personal grooming enthusiasts will love the organic skincare products.
When? 12 November – 22 December
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas market has 180 stalls and stretches from the Town Hall’s columns in Victoria Square to the doors of the famous Bullring shopping centre. Wander at your leisure past purveyors of handcrafted toys and gifts whilst listening to the uplifting sound of brass instruments from the bandstand.
You might want to do a circuit first before choosing where to eat though: our recommendation is a pretzel to snack on as you browse, a bratwürst to replenish your energy, and then a sweet, sugary Berliner doughnut to finish things off. Oh, and a stein of weissbier to wash it down.
When? 19 November – 20 December
The ancient walled city of Chester is a delight to visit at any time of year, but especially when its Christmas market fills the square. The stained glass windows of the cathedral cast a warm glow down onto the wooden chalet huts which surround an enormous Christmas tree.
Wander under the strings of fairy lights criss-crossing the streets while you search for Christmas presents: artisan cheese, home-brewed beers and spirits as well as clothing and accessories by talented craftspeople. Don’t forget to stop by the hog roast for sustenance as you shop.
When? 11 – 13 December
Ipswich is transformed into a Christmas wonderland for the weekend of its Christmas market. Step inside the life-size snowglobe and have your photograph taken, ride the mini Christmas train or pay a visit to Santa Claus who’ll be in Butter Market, taking time out from his busy seasonal schedule to meet everyone.
You can find gifts for the whole family too, from tasty treats for your pets to cosy throws and even Bonsai trees. Take home some twinkling, handmade decorations to trim your tree; they make a lovely memento of your visit.
When? 12 November – 23 December
Cardiff’s Christmas market supports and showcases local artistic talent with an array of 190 exhibitors displaying their creations. The shopping opportunities are plentiful: pick up a personalised shopping bag or choose from the scented candles, organic soap, animal sculptures, hand-thrown pottery and leather goods to name but a few.
Soak up the vibrant, Christmassy atmosphere whilst admiring the view of Cardiff Castle. And if you get peckish? Not to worry… chocolate brownies, hot welsh cakes, vegan pies and even Caribbean street food await you as you wander.
When? 7 – 8 November
Derby’s historic Roundhouse is the setting for the Christmas Food, Drink and Gift Market. The Grade II listed building was originally constructed in 1839 and has been restored to its former glory, creating a truly fabulous venue. Browse and you’ll see personalised Christmas tree decorations, unique home décor accessories and ceramics amongst other handmade goodies.
After ticking off your Christmas shopping list, you’ll be needing refreshment: visit the charming Vintage Tea Room for a classic cream tea, or stop by the Prosecco & Cocktail bar for a cool glass of bubbly. Perfect for festive retail therapy.
See our delightful Derbyshire rentals.
When? 5 December
The unique sense of fun and charming community spirit of the West Hampstead Christmas market is not to be missed. It’s on for one day only and will feature choirs singing you into the Christmas season as well as workshops and activity sessions to get involved in: make your own wreaths and hanging decorations, or even try out Brazilian drumming.
It’s a celebration of Christmas that gets the whole community involved. You can find some gorgeous gifts too from hand-decorated jewellery boxes to handmade baskets and bags.
When? 26 November – 20 December
The Vintry Garden next to the 11th-century abbey is the beautiful venue for St Albans’ Christmas Market. And this town knows a thing or two about markets: it has held them since the 9th century.
You’re sure to discover some quirky gifts to delight family and friends on Christmas morning: a handcrafted birdhouse for the gardener or perhaps a unique ceramic creation for the home-lover. Waffles, German sausage and chips with a host of interesting toppings will tickle your tastebuds while you’re there (and take home some artisan cheese to enjoy after Christmas dinner).
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