Published on: 02/12/21
If only there was somewhere to get in the Christmas spirit, meet up with family and friends, with rides and activities for the kids, spoil yourself on festive snacks, washed down with hot chocolate or Christmas spirits, and be able to stock up on some individual special and handmade presents and goodies. Alright, there is! And not one, but more than you can shake a candy cane at!
Dresden’s Striezelmarkt, first held in 1434, is considered the first true Christmas market, following on from earlier ‘December markets’ being held at Frankfurt, Munich, and Vienna, as far back as 1298. Becoming a popular export, Christmas markets have become one of England's fondest traditions, while retaining their German heritage and traditions.
Twinkling lights, mulled wine, a festive atmosphere and fabulous gifts, all set in some of the country’s most picturesque cities, a visit to a Christmas market is equal parts shopping experience, equal parts destination discovery.
The most famous Christmas markets, include Edinburgh, Manchester, York, Chester, and Birmingham, inspiring many people to turn a day visit into a weekend minibreak. Indeed, after the sad curtailing of Christmas markets in 2020, many hotels reported being fully booked for this year, as far back as the summer. However, you don’t necessarily have to get on your sleigh and travel- with dozens across the country, you could find one a snowman’s step away.
It's definitely time to make up for missing out on last year’s festive celebrations with a visit to one of these cracking Christmas Markets to get you into the festive spirit. All our suggestions below have been specially selected because they remain open after Christmas or even into the New Year, meaning whether you’re looking for presents, a Christmas get-together, entertaining the kids over the holidays, a romantic New Year night out, or spending your Christmas gift money, the fun doesn’t stop once Santa has climbed back up the chimney!
Cambridge Christmas Market - until 3 January
No need to head to the Arctic Circle to visit the North Pole - it's going to be coming to Cambridge! Families can enjoy plenty of festive rides and even ice skating before wandering through the Christmas market with stalls selling everything from Christmas decorations to hot chocolate. Oh, and thrill-seekers won't want to miss out on the brand new, three-lane ice slide that just happens to be the longest in the UK.
Edinburgh Christmas Market - until 1 January
The Scottish capital’s famous Christmas Market is back bigger and better; not only at the traditional locations of East Princes Street Gardens and The Mound, but also adding West Princes Street Gardens and George Street into this year’s festive mix. Visitors can explore dozens of stalls, while attractions including the Christmas Tree Maze, Big Wheel, ice skating and Santa’s Grotto will keep the kids distracted.
Nottingham Christmas Market - until 31 December
Head to the Old Market Square where you'll find a 60ft-high Christmas tree, a giant observation wheel, and even a new Après Ski themed pop-up bar. The market also features plenty of traditional chalet style stalls along Long Row and Smithy Row, while nearby Trinity Square will play host to a Christmas Village where you can pick up plenty of food and drink.
London Hyde Park Winter Wonderland - until 3 January
Transforming one of London’s most spectacular parks, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland offers a festive paradise in the heart of the city. Home to the world’s tallest transportable observation wheel, a Magical Ice Kingdom and an array of thrilling fairground rides, along with the UK’s largest open air ice rink and plenty of bars and food stalls, there’s something for all the family to enjoy. Don't miss jaw-dropping circus acts and creative ice sculpting workshops, and browse over 100 charming wooden chalets for unique gifts, festive decorations and culinary delights.
Belfast Christmas Market - until 3 January
The grounds of the historic City Hall are home to the Belfast Christmas Market, famed for offering food and wares from all over Europe, perfect for snapping up unique presents from the lavishly decorated chalet stalls. For the adventurous, there’s ostrich, wild boar and crocodile burgers on the menu of the outdoor food court or enjoy a Christmas tipple at one of the two dedicated bars.
Virtual Bath Christmas Market - until 31 December
Finally, despite the physical Bath Christmas Market not going ahead again this year, this doesn’t mean the best local artisans and makers have shut up shop. Up until Friday 31st December, take the opportunity to do some festive shopping through independent, sustainable retailers at Bath’s virtual Christmas market. Over 160 artisan makers from the South West and beyond are showcasing their crafts online, offering you the opportunity to purchase your Christmas Market favourites alongside some Festive Features and behind-the-scenes action from the makers, all from the comfort of your sofa!