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The best Christmas markets outside of London

After twinkling grottos, handmade gifts and mugs of mulled wine? Here’s our pick of the best Christmas markets outside London

Edinburgh Christmas market
By Anna Bonet |

Feel like you’ve overdone London’s Christmas markets? They are pretty spectacular, but maybe there are only so many times you can whizz around on Winter Wonderland’s big wheel? Perhaps 2018 heralds the festive season where we venture out of the capital and explore what else the UK has to offer up to the Christmas scene. We’ve heard that with thousands of twinkling stalls, massive ice rinks and unique settings it’s actually pretty ace out there. (And if not, we can always come crawling back.)

RECOMMENDED: Celebrate Christmas in London

Christmas markets in the UK

Bath Christmas market
Photograph: 1000 Words

Bath Christmas Market

Bath’s Christmas market has become so popular that they only run it for just over two weeks each year – the thousands of tourists that flock to see the market leave the locals feeling pretty disgruntled (sound familiar?). But it’s popular for a reason. It’s one of Europe’s most magical Christmas markets: more than 180 craft and food stalls line the streets around the Roman Baths and Abbey in this historic city. If all that shopping tires you out, pay a visit to the steamy, rooftop thermal baths for a soak instead.

When: Nov 22-Dec 9

Get there: One hour and 30 minutes by train from London Paddington; around two hours 30 minutes by car.

Birmingham Christmas market
Photograph: Eddie Cloud

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market

Frankfurt Market, in the Brummie city centre, is the largest German Christmas market held outside of Germany or Austria. How this came to be we’re not quite sure, but we’re glad it did because it’s pretty damn special. Taking place across Birmingham’s main squares, it’s the best place in Blighty to enjoy an authentic bratwurst, washed down with some gluhwein. Frohe weihnachten!

When: Nov 15-Dec 23

Get there: One hour and 20 minutes by train from London Euston; around two hours 30 minutes by car.


Christmas at Blenheim Palace

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the high street (and let’s face it, if you’re a Londoner you probably do), then Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is the Christmas market spot for you. In the peaceful grounds of this magnificent country house are twinkling wooden chalets selling unique gifts, hot food and warming booze. It couldn’t feel further away from the scrum of Oxford Street. Once you’re done perusing, wander along their Christmas Lights trail – a fairy-light-lover’s heaven.

When: Nov 23-Dec 16

Get there: One hour by train from London Paddington to Oxford, then a bus; around one hour and 45 minutes by car.

Nottingham Christmas market
Photograph: Jason Batterham

Winter Wonderland Nottingham

Every festive season Nottingham, Robin Hood’s stomping ground, transforms into a Christmas Winter Wonderland, featuring a glowing ice rink, a helter-skelter and snowy alpine ski lodges. There’s also a sparkling Christmas market, with 70 wooden stalls surrounding a huge glittering Christmas tree. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into your very own festive fairytale.

When: Nov 15-Dec 31

Get there: One hour and 45 minutes by train from London St Pancras; around three hours by car.

York Christmas market
Photograph: Peter Austin

York’s St Nicholas Fair

Wander along these cobbled, Victorian streets and you’ll stumble into St Nicholas Fair, York’s quintessential Christmas market. Their softly-lit huts sell Yorkshire produce, from cheeses and wines to handmade crafts, so that’s your mum’s Christmas presents sorted. There’s also hot chestnut stands, carol singers and, new for this year, a Santa’s grotto. Don’t pretend you’re not excited.

When: Nov 15-Dec 23

Get there: One hour 50 minutes by train from London King’s Cross; around four hours 30 minutes by car.

Leeds Castle’s Christmas Market

You couldn’t ask for a more magnificent setting for a mulled wine and mince pie sesh than an eleventh-century castle. The medieval atmosphere at Leeds Castle in Kent makes for an extra special Christmas market. Plus, there are fairground rides, a carousel, and real reindeer on hand too.

When: Nov 24-25, Dec 1-2, Dec 8-9, Dec 15-16 [weekends only between Nov 24-Dec 16]

Get there: One hour by train from London Euston to Bearsted, then a bus; around one hour 40 minutes by car.

Cardiff Christmas market
Photograph: Ceri Breeze

Cardiff Christmas Market

The majority of what’s on offer at Cardiff’s Christmas market is made locally by small Welsh businesses, so when browsing the stalls here expect to come across hand-stitched red dragons, wooden love spoons, cushions with the word ‘cwtch’ (there’s no exact translation but it basically means a cuddle) on them and lots of freshly made Welsh cakes. But there’s all your textbook Christmas market content in there too, including mulled wine, fairy lights and even a Winter Wonderland, complete with ice rink, down the road.

When: Nov 15-Dec 23

Get there: Two hours by train from London Paddington; around three hours by car

Winchester Christmas market

Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market

On the grounds of Winchester’s medieval cathedral sit more than 100 chalet-style stalls selling all your festive favourites. Think gifts, crafts and culinary offerings from every corner of the world. Trees are illuminated with colourful lights and there’s an open-air ice rink in the grand cathedral courtyard if you want to don your skates and do your best Torvill and Dean impression. See you on the ice.

When: Nov 17-Dec 20

Get there: One hour by train from London Paddington; around two hours by car.

Edinburgh Christmas market

Edinburgh Christmas Market

The Scottish capital is magical all year round, but a Yuletide visit is a must. Edinburgh’s Christmas markets take place at East Princes Street Gardens, and are a spectacular setting to munch a hog roast and sip on hot cider. It’s pretty chilly up there too come December, so you might even get a sprinkle of snow to make you feel extra Christmassy.

When: Nov 17-Jan 5

Get there: Four hours 30 minutes by train from London King’s Cross; around seven hours 30 minutes by car.

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