Bristol Christmas Market
Why: market stalls with live music and artificial snowfall every evening.
What: 35 market stalls, a “Jäger Barn bar” with igloos and ski gondolas for group visits, and the traditional line-up of bratwurst, Yorkshire pudding wraps and crêpe food outlets. There are also choral performances, Santa visits, balloon artists and bubble-blowers roving around.
When: now until 23 December, bristolchristmasmarket.com
How to get there: Bristol Shopping Quarter and Broadmead can be accessed from Temple Meads Station (around 20 minutes’ walk), which is served by GWR and CrossCountry trains.
Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market
Why: The largest German-style market outside Europe.
What: As well as pretzels, schnitzel, bratwurst, stollen, Glühwein and roasted almonds, visitors will find wooden and glass decorations, leatherwork and Germanic crafts alongside international products in the illuminated market stalls that are designed to evoke the traditions of Frankfurt’s 630-year-old Christmas market. Live music will be on the bandstand on several evenings.
When: now until 24 December, visitbirmingham.com
How to get there: Victoria Square and New Street can be accessed from Birmingham New Street (two minutes’ walk), served by CrossCountry, Avanti West Coast, and West Midlands Trains.
Nottingham Winter Wonderland
Why: a festive quarter with observation wheel, toboggan slide and rooftop ice skating circuit.
What: The market stalls – selling everything from cheese and plants to fashion and home accessories – are almost secondary to the activities here, the highlight of which is the circular ice skating circuit that gives a bird’s eye view of the twinkling lights below.
When: now until 31 December, nottinghamwinterwonderland.co.uk
How to get there: Old Market Square can be accessed from Nottingham (around 12 minutes’ walk), served by East Midlands Railway, CrossCountry and Northern trains.
Manchester Christmas Markets
Why: It’s the 25th anniversary of the first market in Manchester, the “UK’s capital of Christmas”.
What: There’s an extensive festive offering across the city, with market stalls in numerous locations – the oldest of which is St Ann’s Square where you’ll find food stalls galore. Market Street is the destination for crafts and King Street for gourmet gifts. Exchange Square will see the biggest concentration of stalls and family entertainment can be found in Cathedral Gardens.
When: 10 November to 21 December, visitmanchester.com
How to get there: Piccadilly Gardens, St Ann’s Square, Market Street, King Street, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Square, the Corn Exchange and Cathedral Gardens can be accessed from Manchester Piccadilly station (between 10- and 20-minutes’ walk), served by TransPennine Express, Northern, CrossCountry, Avanti West Coast and Transport for Wales trains.
York Christmas Festival
Why: for independent spirit.
What: The 75 Alpine-style chalets will sell crafts from local traders, while festive ghost walks will rove around the city’s historic streets and medieval snickelways. For those who can’t make it, a virtual Christmas market means you can shop the stalls from home and have your purchases delivered to the doorstep.
When: 16 November to 22 December, visityork.org/christmas
How to get there: Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square can be accessed from York station (about 20 minutes’ walk), served by Northern, LNER, CrossCountry, TransPennine Express and Grand Central trains.
Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market
Why: Devon’s biggest Christmas market, with a light installation by artist Peter Walker and free entrance to the cathedral.
What: With a grand backdrop, the 100-plus stalls here will be selling all things Exeter and Devon, illuminated by Peter Walker’s Light of Hope Star installation and strings of festoon lights.
When: 17 November to 17 December, exeter-cathedral.org.uk
How to get there: Exeter Cathedral can be accessed from Exeter Central station (about seven minutes’ walk), served by South Western and GWR trains; and Exeter St Davids station (20 minutes’ walk), served by GWR, South Western and CrossCountry trains.
Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market
Why: for its grand location in “the most magical Christmas town in England”.
What: The Cathedral claims more than 1,000 years of history, its advent services a destination in their own right. But outside, the festive market stalls – with games, toys, homewares, perfumes and more – will be enhanced by a makers’ market that supports local craftspeople.
When: 17 November to 21 December, winchester-cathedral.org.uk/event/christmas-market.
How to get there: Winchester Cathedral can be reached from Winchester station (15 minutes’ walk), served by South Western and CrossCountry trains.
Why: for a prolonged festive season to see you into the new year.
What: There are several free events, including an opening concert on 18 November and St Andrew’s cèilidh on 26 November as well as family silent discos, an ice rink and fun fair rides. Stalls will line Castle Street from 25 November to 22 December, while a large market of 70 stalls will be selling local and more general products in East Princes Street Gardens. Santa will meet children for stories and a gift in St Andrew Square and a Santa Fun Run takes place on 10 December.
When: 17 November to 6 January 2024, edinburgh-christmas.com
How to get there: Princes Street Gardens, St Andrew Square, Castle Street and George Street can be accessed from Edinburgh Waverley (10 minutes’ walk) and Edinburgh station (15 minutes), served by ScotRail, LNER, Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Lumo and TransPennine Express trains.
Liverpool Christmas Market
Why: traditional stalls with karaoke ski lift capsules, tipi tent and big wheel.
What: There’s a strong focus on street food here, alongside the stalls selling traditional Christmas products. Visitors can also expect a carousel, observation wheel and Santa Land area with rides for children as well as the themed bars.
When: 18 November to 24 December, liverpoolchristmasmarket.co.uk
How to get there: St George’s Hall can be accessed from Liverpool Lime Street (around four minutes’ walk), served by West Midlands, East Midlands Railway, Merseyrail, Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Northern trains.
Bath Christmas Market
Why: independent producers lining cobbled Georgian streets.
What: chalets selling products including artisan chocolate, local wine, cheese, prints, knitwear, pottery and more.
When: 23 November to 10 December, bathchristmasmarket.co.uk
How to get there: Abbey Square, Abbey Green and Milsom Street can be accessed from Bath Spa station (10 minutes’ walk), served by GWR trains.
Christmas Under the Canopy, London
Why: weather-proof festive market by Kings Cross station.
What: more than independent makers and food stalls under the roof of Coal Drops Yard, with live music in the evening. Stalls will be selling everything from candles and jewellery to pyjamas and gin.
When: Tuesday-Sunday from 23 November to 23 December, kingscross.co.uk
How to get there: London Kings Cross and St Pancras International stations (five minutes’ walk) are served by Great Northern, LNER, First Hull, Grand Central, Lumo, East Midlands, Thameslink and Southeastern trains.
Leeds Christmas Markets
Why: a newly expanded offering across the city, with a variety of markets.
What: Timber stalls selling Yorkshire and Leeds-made products alongside international brands, two themed bars, farmers’ markets, a winter vintage market (3 December), artisan makers’ markets, ice rink, fun fair and food stalls.
When: 24 November to 22 December, visitleeds.co.uk/winter-season/christmas-markets/
How to get there: Lands Lane, the Headrow, Dortmund Square, Albion Place, New Briggate, Corn Exchange, Briggate, Bond Street and City Square can be accessed from Leeds station (five to 15 minutes’ walk), served by TransPennine Express, CrossCountry, Northern and LNER trains.