From London to Edinburgh and Brighton to Leeds, here is a round-up of this winter’s top Christmas markets…
The countdown to Christmas is officially on. Alongside stocking up on the best advent calendars out there (or the best beauty advent calendars for you make-up obsessives), there’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than browsing around the best Christmas markets (with a cup of mulled wine in your hand, obviously).
Whether it’s a weekend day out with the family or a post-work festive browse, here are our top 10 picks for the best Christmas Markets in the UK…
Best Christmas Markets London
Not only does this Southbank Centre market boast London’s best views (Parliament, Big Ben and St. Pauls), it’s also famed for its Scandinavian decorations, festive food stalls and mulled wine. Grab a mug over at The Hoplocker Bar or if you're more of a craft beer person, head over and drain the Parm Star's wide selection. This year, there's also going to be a Finish Rooftop Sauna (we're not joking) that oversees the Thames from their cosy Queen Elizabeth Hall roof garden. Browse the wooden cabins lining the river and see if you can catch a performance from one of the pop-up choirs or circus acts.
Open: Friday, 10 November – Saturday, 30 December 2017
Hyde Park’s famous Winter Wonderland is returning this November, so expect it to be bigger (and busier) than ever. Aside from your standard Christmas market stalls, the park features a Bavarian village and the Ice Bar. There’s even an ice rink, fairground rides, a circus and - new this year - Bar Hütte, rentable Alpine après ski chalets with karaoke and Christmas cocktails if you've got a big gang going.
This year, they're also bringing over a special performance of Cinderella on Ice with an exciting cast made up of world-renowned skaters. Another new addition will be The Magical Ice Kingdom's Deep Sea Adventure, a mystical experience that'll take you past mermaid grottos, Poseidon's throne and meticulously crafted ice and snow sculptures that have to be seen to be believed.
Open: Friday, 17 November 2017 – Monday, 1 January 2018, 10am - 10pm (closed on Christmas Day)
Camden Christmas Market
Open every Thursday, this market offers an alternative to the classic kitsch festivals. Shop here for edgy Christmas décor – from handmade fairy lights to vintage ornaments – there’s even a brass band and a ‘Selfie Tree’. Open: 17 November — 22 December (12pm – 9pm)
Best Christmas Markets Birmingham
Christmas Floating Market
For a more unique (and relaxing) experience, visit the floating markets in Birmingham. Twelve narrow boats will float along the river, stopping off to sell wooden pieces, knitwear, Christmas cards and sweets to riverside shoppers. Located along the stretch of water nearby the Barclaycard Arena, it's a great way to go hunting for last-minute presents.
Open: Saturday December 9 - 10 2017, 10am – 5pm
Frankfurt Christmas Market
Birmingham is hosting the country’s largest outdoor market and it's been running for over 15 years, promising over a hundred stalls selling hand crafted toys, festive decorations (which will include Christmas wreaths and more) and glassware – not to mention an ice rink and a Ferris wheel. Food-wise you can expect all of the German festive classics: bratwursts, gluhwein, pretzels, and roasted almonds. Head over to Victoria Square where the main action is or dive into New Street for fewer crowds.
Open: 16 November – 24 December 2017, 10am - 9pm
Christmas Craft Markets
The Mac is opening its doors this year to the Christmas Craft Markets, exclusively selling and showcasing work by Birmingham and West Midlands-based designers. Head here for homemade crafts – expect everything from jewellery and candles to handbags and tree decorations. If you're still desperately looking for Christmas gifts for her or Christmas gifts for him, you'll be sorted.
Open: Saturday 3 December – Sunday 4 December, Saturday 10 December – Sunday 11 December (11am – 5pm)
Best Christmas Markets Manchester
Manchester Christmas Markets
With ten different bases throughout the city, the world-famous European Christmas Market winds its way through Manchester’s chalet-lined streets. Here you can browse handmade crafts, jewellery, toys, clothes (bring on the tacky Christmas jumpers and potential Christmas party dresses) and a truly European selection of food – we’re talking Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella, German beers, Dutch pancakes and even French profiteroles. It all culminates in bustling Albert Square, where a six tonne Santa made of LED Christmas lights will oversee the festivities below.
Open: Thursday 10 November – Tuesday 20 December 2017, 10am – 9pm
A&B Mega-Fair Christmas Special
For one day only, the A&B mega-fair at Sound Control will be your one stop shop for all things vintage, punk, and neo-Victorian. Shop clothing, accessories, jewellery and artwork from a wide variety of exhibitors, but unlike your average traditional Christmas market, this one also features twisted cabaret, aerial acts and DJ sets. Whether you're a rockabilly gal or jetting around in a steampunk get-up, it's Christmas all around.
Open: Saturday 17 December 2017
Best Christmas Markets Edinburgh
Christmas Market - East Princes Street
East Princes Street is hosting the city’s biggest Christmas market as part of Edinburgh Christmas 2017, a total holiday extravaganza. Head here for bespoke festive gifts from local crafters and artists, plus gastronomic treats from churros to gingerbread. Plus it’s perfect for families, with holiday-themed fairground rides, a Christmas tree maze and a Santa Land. There's also a handful of shows ranging from family-friendly Cinderella to the not-so-family-friendly La Clique Noel.
Open: 18 November – 24 December 2017, 1pm - 8pm; 26 December - 1 January, 12pm – 8pm
Christmas Market - George Street
The holiday overflow from East Princes Street winds up at George Street, where you'll be able to really get into the Christmas spirit. It'll be more of the same with local artisans touting their wares and a Bratwurst, mulled wine and other tasty delicacies every other stall. Even the Grinch wouldn't be able to resist this one.
Open: 17 November - 24 December 2017
Best Christmas Markets Leeds
Despite being based in Millennium Square, Christkindelmarkt is as traditional as German Christmas markets come. With festive greenery, carousel rides and over forty wooden chalet stalls where authentic German traders showcase their handcrafted goods, you'll hardly believe you're still in the UK. The delicacies on offer include gluhwein, bratwurst sausages, goulash, schnitzel and gingerbread – not to mention, there’s even a brand new après-ski bar.
Open: Friday 10 November – Sunday 17 December 2017, 10:30am - 9:30pm
Leeds Hidden Christmas Market
After the success of last year's Hidden Christmas Market, this offbeat wonderland is back again and running for even longer. You'll have to pay roughly £9/11 pounds to get into Kirkstall Abbey for a five hour session, but it's worth the money with whimsical live performances, indie boutique stalls as well as traditional Christmas fare (all locally sourced, we've been told). Grab a mulled wine, a Bratwurst and get ready to be transported to another world.
Open: December 14 - 21 2017, 6pm entry
Best Christmas Markets Brighton
Brighton Christmas Market Jubilee Square
Jubilee Square will be hosting its annual Christmas market for the eighth year running, with over twenty chalets of handcrafted gifts and a wide selection of festive food. If you've got little ones, make sure they bring their wish list along as Santa's Post Box is going to be around for them to send a letter to the North Pole. Expect live art showcases, street theatre, exhibitions, community events, and outdoor screenings.
Open: Friday 17 November – Saturday 23 December 2017
Brighton Palace Pier Christmas Market
Brighton's iconic pier will be transformed into a festive wonderland this Christmas, full of good cheer, steaming mugs of mulled wine and local artisans selling what could be your next big Christmas present. If you've got little ones, it's a great shout as there's live entertainment to keep the children entertained and there's also a big indoor play area for them to go wild in as you sneak off to the shops.
Open: 2-3 December 2017
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Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.
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