Best Christmas Markets in England

wooden figure with food hall at winter wonderland, one of the best christmas markets in england, in the background
by Anisa // 0 Comments

When you think of visiting the enchanting Christmas markets in Europe, England is probably not the first country that comes to mind.  You might be surprised to learn that it actually has several Christmas markets that are worth visiting.

I’ve been to a few myself, but there are plenty more that are still on my list.  That’s why I’ve reached out to some of my travel blogger friends to put together a list of the best Christmas Markets in England.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

shops at winter wonderland in england
Whether you like shopping, rides, seasonal food and drinks, or holiday decorations, the Christmas Markets in England have it all.

Best Christmas Markets in England

Christmas markets, a longstanding tradition in Germany, found their way to England more recently. The inaugural German-style market kicked off in Lincoln in 1982!

Inspired by their continental counterparts, many Christmas fairs in England offer a delightful blend of wooden huts showcasing unique gifts, an array of mouthwatering food, steaming mugs of mulled wine, and even a sprinkle of carnival rides.

It’s remarkable how each English Christmas market boasts its unique charm, with many continuously expanding and improving their offerings year after year. (Although it’s worth noting that a few, like the Bury St. Edmunds Christmas Fayre, have sadly closed their doors for good.) If you haven’t experienced the magic of an English Christmas market yet, there’s no better time to start!

In this guide, you’ll find a selection of the best Christmas markets in England, along with suggestions for nearby attractions and recommended hotels to help you plan your unforgettable English Christmas market adventure.

London Christmas Markets

London has several popular Christmas Markets that make this list.  Winter Wonderland is by far the largest, but other smaller markets are worth visiting too.  You can easily fill a weekend in London just checking out the Christmas fairs.

Winter Wonderland

Recommended by Anisa

large wooden doll that says winter wonderland with christmas tree in the background
Winter Wonderland is a popular Christmas market with lots to offer visitors.

For 6 weeks from mid-November to the beginning of January, a large section of London’s Hyde Park is transformed into Winter Wonderland.  The tradition started more than 15 years ago, and the event has grown into quite the extravaganza with roller coasters, carnival games and rides, ice skating, food stalls, shops, shows, festive bars, and live music.

The rides take up the majority of the real estate at Winter Wonderland.  While they do have many kid-friendly rides, there are also quite a few thrill rides that are on the same intensity level of some theme parks.  Of course there are also traditional carnival rides like the Ferris wheel, bumper cars, and carousel.

There are also many different themed-bars at Winter Wonderland.  At Thor’s Tipi you can enjoy a warm fire along with warm beverages.  They also have a carousel bar that rotates.  You can also find a large German beer hall in the Bavarian Village.

The actual market area is called the Angels Christmas Market.  Here you will find some unique gifts and handmade crafts along with specialty foods.  Speaking of food, they have all kinds although churros seemed to be especially widespread.

winter decorations with carnival rides in the background
The decorations throughout the market make it feel like a Winter Wonderland.

The event has become so popular that they have introduced tickets this year to help manage the capacity.  The price varies depending on when you want to visit.  Off-peak tickets are free (but still need to be booked) while peak tickets are £7.50.  Your ticket allows you to stay as long as you like but does not include any rides or attractions.

You can also book shows, rides, and other attractions in advance.  If you spend £20 or more in the same transaction, your admission to Winter Wonderland will be free.

Just a short walk away, you will find Buckingham Palace.  You could try to catch the Changing of the Guard before heading to Winter Wonderland.  If you want to stay at a hotel close by, check out the London Hilton on Park Lane.

Christmas by the River

Recommended by Alessia from Italian Trip Abroad

view of tower bridge from the Christmas by the River market in London
Christmas by the River may have the best view of any Christmas market in England.

Everywhere from the city centre to the extreme corners of the biggest city in Europe, London is all glittering with lights, Christmas songs and decorations. One of the most beautiful is “Christmas by the River”.

The annual market is all along the River Thames, from London Bridge to Tower Bridge, with a succession of delicious food stands and souvenir shops.  To warm you up get a traditional mulled wine and a caramelized apple.

If you are looking for things to do in the London Bridge area, write down the Hays Galleria that is filled with lights, decorations and a beautiful Christmas Tree.  Check out the views from the Top of the Shard.  Across the river, you have the Tower of London, one of the city’s most popular attractions.

christmas decorations at Hays galleria in london
Hays Galleria is one of the must-visit spots for Christmas decorations in London.

London Bridge is perfect for moderate or on budget accommodation. From a local hostel to a cosy hotel like Marriott or the Tower Hotel just across Tower Bridge.  Grab your camera, your wine and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere of Christmas by the River.

Trafalgar Square Christmas Market

Recommended by Caroline from CK Travels

christmas market in front of the national gallery
Trafalgar Square gets festive with its market during the holiday season

The festivities in Trafalgar Square are one of the best Christmas events in London and the area is transformed into a magical wonderland! The highlight is the traditional market located in front of the National Gallery with around 30 huts selling a range of hand-crafted gifts. You’ll be able to shop for jewellery, knitwear, Christmas ornaments and candles, plus there are also food stalls selling delicious fare such as German bratwursts, pancakes and churros.

In the middle of the markets there is an outdoor drinking and seating area where you can relax with a hot chocolate, mulled wine or cider. From here you get a great view of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree which is an annual gift from Norway to thank the UK for help in World War II.

trafalgar square with christmas tree
You can see the huge Christmas tree (typically over 60 feet tall) in Trafalgar Square.

The markets run from around the end of November until the first week of January. The best place to stay to visit this Christmas market is in the cosy self catering apartments of the Citadines Trafalgar Square which is just a 3 minute walk away.

Trafalgar Square is located right in the heart of central London with lots to do nearby – head over to Covent Garden to check out their Christmas lights and market, or wander down to Somerset House to go ice skating.

Covent Garden Christmas Market

Recommended by Paulina from Ukeveryday

covent garden market with christmas decorations
Covent Garden gets into the Christmas spirit with its decorations.

Covent Garden is the area to go to in London for anyone who enjoys shopping, restaurants, bars, history, and culture.  In the heart of the Covent Garden Piazza you can find the Apple Market, which used to be the most famous fruit and vegetable market in the world. Currently, it showcases  handmade crafts that you can buy all year around.

During the winter in London, the area is all dressed up for Christmas. Beautiful mistletoes and huge mirror balls hanging off from the ceiling turn this place into a winter wonderland.  One of the biggest Christmas trees in London impresses visitors every year.  Try to time your visit for the flurries of snow every hour from 12pm until 7 pm. 

New for the 2021 holiday season there will be a Frozen takeover, a traditional Christmas Village complete with bauble dining domes, a shopping weekend, and more. Be sure to check out the Frozen Forest on the North Piazza, where you can see Christmas trees dressed with snow, ice, and Frozen decorations.  

In the Covent Garden area there are over 60 bars and pubs. Make sure that you don’t miss London’s oldest restaurant, Rules, which serves classic British food. The cocktail bar upstairs is known as one of the best places to drink cocktails in London.

There are plenty of other attractions to see near Covent Garden. London Transport Museum, the Royal Opera House, or Trafalgar Square are just a few of them.

If you decide to book accommodation around Covent Garden you will find some of the best hotels in London like the Savoy Hotel. There is no doubt, this place can not be missed during Christmas!

Selfridges Christmas Market

Recommended by Athul from Our Backpack Tales

UPDATE: Unfortunately, this Christmas market is no longer taking place.

Edward mews decorated for the selfridges christmas market
The Selfridges market may not be very big but it is festive.

The Selfridges Christmas Market is a lovely Christmas experience full of cheer and festive flavours. Open to the public from early November until just before Christmas Eve on all days, this wonderful market is set up at Edwards Mews (behind Selfridges) London.

This is the best place to grab your tree and seasonal wreaths and flowers. You can also sip your favorite drinks while you say hi to Santa because you’ll find many stalls serving cocktails, beers, mulled wine, apple cider and hot drinks like hot chocolate, tea and coffees.

The food is probably the main attraction here. You can find a wide selection of street food to choose from including pizza, waffles, hot dogs, burgers, cookies, panettone and doughnuts from popular outlets like The Social Dough Company, Pop Dogs, Tramshed and Utter Waffle.

To add to your perfect winter evening, try the Helter Skelter, carousel and other fun fairground rides available for kids and adults. You can also pick up some festive gifts and hampers for your loved ones.

Christmas Markets Outside London

London is definitely not the only place to find Christmas markets in England.  There are several spread around the country that are worth visiting.

While you could do a winter day trip from London to see these markets, I’d recommend staying longer and using the time to see the area.

Birmingham Christmas Market

Recommended by Ruma from The Holiday Story

sign at the birmingham frankfurt christmas market
The Birmingham Christmas Market has ties to Frankurt’s Christmas market.

Birmingham Christmas Market is the biggest and grandest Christmas market in all of England. Known as Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, it’s spread across New Street, Victoria Square and Centenary Square.

This market began in 2001 with only 24 stalls and kept expanding every year. It was the only UK Christmas market to find a spot on Telegraph’s top 10 holiday markets of the world.

The market records an average of 5.5 million visitors every year. This year it will function from 10 am to 9 pm daily from 4th November to 23rd December. It’s the most significant German market outside of Germany and has direct ties with Germany’s original Frankfurt Christmas Market.

The stalls here have something for everyone. The market offers special holiday editions of authentic German street food and drinks. These include foods like pretzels, schnitzels, bratwursts, and roasted almonds. Gluhwein, a traditional weissbier (wheat beer), or a mug of hot chocolate are the go-to drinks for all.

Apart from these palatable items, this market is also well known for handicraft and gift shops. Wooden decors, crystal balls, hand-crafted leather items, jewellery items and many more from this market can be excellent gift items for your loved ones.

The singing Christmas moose named Chris has become a significant point of attraction. Also, visit the ice rink and big wheel at nearby Centenary Square as a part of your Christmas market trip and soak up all the Christmas vibes.

Several hotels are situated around the market area. Check out Premier Inn for a budget room or drop in at Rotunda Apartments for a luxurious stay.

Manchester Christmas Market

Recommended by Dan from Urban Abroad

manchester christmas market
There is plenty of shopping, food, and more at the Manchester Christmas Market.

When you are on the lookout for England’s best Christmas markets you can not afford to miss out on all the Christmassy treats on offer in Manchester. 

With influences from the traditional German markets, you can expect to see many tiny wooden cottages and hundreds of beautifully lit decorations all around.

Amongst the stalls, you’ll find different European nationalities selling locally produced food, goodies, gifts, and handmade crafts. Try some of the edible festive treats such as hot Mulled Wine, Christmas puddings, baked Gingerbread, and some succulent German sausage baps.

The Market grows every year so expect big queues, and if you visit during the weekend, or during after work hours, you’ll find even more people.  All in all, this event, which usually starts in November, is designed to put you in the mood for Christmas and offers an entertaining evening for all the family.

With the nearby Midland hotel, you can get yourself a cozy place to stay which is within a short walking distance from the markets.  As one of the most popular places to visit in North England there is no shortage of things to see and do here after you are done with the Christmas markets.

Lincoln Christmas Market

Recommended by Alex from Lincoln and Beyond

lincoln christmas market with the cathedral in the background
Lincoln was the first city in England to have a German-Style Christmas Market.

UPDATE: The Lincoln Christmas Market has been permanently cancelled due to fears of overcrowding.

German-style Christmas markets are now commonplace in towns and cities across the UK, but that hasn’t always been the case. Lincoln Christmas Market was the first to bring the tradition over from its twin town, Neustadt, back in 1982.

The market has since grown into one of the biggest of its kind in Europe. It takes place over a single long weekend from Thursday to Sunday at the beginning of December, when around 250,000 people descend on Lincoln’s historic centre to take part in the festivities. You can stay nearby at the Cathedral View Guest House.

Lincoln’s entire uphill area is taken over by the market, with the grounds of Lincoln Castle hosting many of the 280+ stalls, and more spilling out onto the cobbled roads and the popular Lawn Complex. Lincoln Cathedral, which was once the world’s tallest building, is illuminated in colour to provide a stunning backdrop.

Lincoln Cathedral lit up for the Lincoln Christmas Market
Don’t miss the illuminations of Lincoln Cathedral at night.

Lincoln Christmas Market is a big festive showcase of local produce, art, craft, and festive music, plus guest stalls from further afield. The German influence is ever-present, with wooden chalet stalls, traditional Bavarian sausages and cups of hot gluhwein flowing.

Lincolnshire’s farms produce around 20% of the UK’s domestic food, and here you will find the very best of it on display. Look out for the local food and drink stalls, such as Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, Red Hill Farm, Stokes Coffee and Lincoln Distillery.

Before you leave, hit the fairground section and take a ride on the big wheel for an amazing view of the city from above.

Bath Christmas Market

Recommended by Nichola from Global Mouse Travels

bath christmas market
You will love visiting Bath when the Christmas Market is on.

Bath has one of, if not the best Christmas markets in England. When you visit in the run up to Christmas the little wooden chalets snake throughout the city centre giving it even more of a fairytale like look than usual.

The largely Georgian centre of the city feels like something out of a story book with the Abbey at the centre glowing amber from the lights inside. It is a beautiful sight.  You will often find carol singers and hot chestnut stalls dotted throughout the city adding to the festive feel.

On top of this it’s the perfect place for some festive shopping with suppliers from across the south west coming to sell handicrafts and food in up to 160 stalls. If you’re visiting Bath with kids they will love the huge old fashioned, Victorian carousel set in the middle of the market too which just adds to the atmospheric nature. 

It’s on from late November through until mid December, although dates vary slightly each year.  It’s a good idea to make a weekend of it as Christmas can be a very busy time to be in the city so staying over will give more time to enjoy all it has to offer.

The Abbey Hotel is one of the best family hotels in Bath, it is based right in the centre and is the perfect place to retreat from the cold and have some time out of the hustle and bustle.

York Christmas Markets

Recommended by Anisa

Thor's Tipi was probably my favorite thing at York's Christmas Market. - "St. Nicholas Fair York Christmas Market Guide" - Two Traveling Texans
Thor’s Tipi was probably my favorite thing at York’s Christmas Market.

Christmas is a good time to visit York.  The picturesque city looks even prettier all dressed up for the holidays and there are several areas in the city center with Christmas markets.

St. Nicholas Fair, as they call it, has alpine chalets and a vintage carousel.  Local indie traders have a wide variety of special gifts whether you are looking for a stocking stuffer or something more substantial.  It’s also a great place to sample (and buy) some delicious British cheese.

Head to the Shambles Food Court when you are ready to eat. They have lots of international street food options including Moroccan wraps, Thai, and burritos.  When you want to have a drink and warm up, head to Thor’s Tipi where they have a warm fire and hot beverages.

When you visit these markets, you should also check out some of the other historic sites in York like the Minster, the Shambles, and Clifford’s Tower.  You can buy the York Pass to save on admission.  Also, consider spending a few nights and also going to visit nearby Castle Howard during Christmas.

If you need a place to stay in York, the Park Inn by Radisson is located right by the river.  It’s a short walk from the train station and the Christmas Markets.

Leeds Christmas Market

Recommended by Hannah from Get Lost Blog

leeds corn exchange with christmas tree
Leeds gets festive during the Christmas season.

Leeds Christmas Market is an eagerly anticipated event each year. The Christkindelmarkt takes inspiration from traditional German Christmas markets. Wooden chalets selling artisan gifts and food line Millennium Square from early November until just before Christmas.

Like many German Christmas Markets, thousands flock to get their fill of warming bratwurst and gluhwein. Make sure you get yours in one of the pretty souvenir mugs to take home with you!

For families visiting Leeds Christmas Market, there are some fairground rides, including a popular carousel for children to enjoy. There are also children’s shows on weekends with singalongs and face painting.  

Leeds Christkindelmarkt might be small, but it is one of the best Christmas Markets in England. The atmosphere comes with a warm Yorkshire welcome, plus, it is the ideal place to pick up beautiful handmade presents.

The Christmas Market is just one of the things to do in Leeds on your visit. To make the most of your time in the city, be sure to stay for a weekend. Both Leeds Art Gallery and Leeds City Museum are just a short walk from the Christmas Market and are free to enter.

Leeds is also a wonderful city for Christmas shopping with many boutique stores in Leeds Corn Exchange, or popular High Street names in Leeds Trinity shopping centre, both within walking distance.

The most convenient hotel for any visit to Leeds is Queen’s Hotel. It adjoins the neighbouring train station, so you don’t have very far to carry your luggage!

Sheffield Christmas Market

Recommended by Kerry from VeggTravel

sheffield christmas market at night with ferris wheel
Sheffield’s Christmas Market may not be as well-known as others on this list, but it has a lot to offer.

An English Christmas market often overlooked is the one in Sheffield, Yorkshire. Sheffield is the 4th biggest city in the UK but isn’t as well-known or notable as nearby Leeds or Manchester. However, once the Christmas lights have been switched on (normally late November) the Fargate district in the centre becomes alive with the buzz of Christmas, the aromas of mulled wine and festive foods.

Set against the backdrop of limestone buildings and historical buildings such as the nearby City Hall, the log cabins and fairy lights really make the city pop. Expect a mix of gift stalls selling hand-made crafts, decorations, and seasonal gifts. Plus, a selection of food stalls that cater for all diets and appetites.

One of the most popular attractions is the illuminated Ferris wheel that provides beautiful panoramic views across the Christmas market. Another must do is to stop by the Alpine Bar to enjoy a well-deserved drink after all that shopping.

If you’d like to venture a little further, you will arrive at the Peace Gardens which has more Christmas lights and structures to enjoy. There are plenty of hotels nearby, but the Mercure hotel is in a great location and also has a spa to appreciate.

In short, the Christmas Markets are one of the best things to do in Sheffield and will certainly help you get into the festive spirit.

Chatsworth Christmas Market

Recommended by Molly from Lovely Local Indie

market stall at chatsworth during the christmas market
The Chatsworth Christmas Market is one of the earlier events on the holiday calendar.

Every year the iconic Chatsworth Estate, located just outside Bakewell in Derbyshire’s Peak District, hosts one of the region’s biggest and best festive markets. Chatsworth Christmas market is usually on for most of the month of November.

Expect over 100 stalls housed in wooden Alpine style huts selling everything from artisan food to Christmas decorations. The stunning location, overlooking one of the finest country houses in England and it’s expansive parkland, is what makes this market so special and unique.

There’s a good selection of street food, from traditional hog roasts and bacon and sausage sandwiches from the estate’s farm shop, to more exotic options like Greek souvlaki wraps and Katsu chicken curry. In terms of sweet treats, there’s everything from toasted marshmallows to crepes to churros.

Several outdoor bars serve mulled wine, traditional German beer or a cheeky (if shockingly expensive) glass of champagne. There’s picnic table style seating areas dotted throughout the market.

There’s a fabulously festive atmosphere courtesy of numerous Christmas trees, fairy lights and live music.  

Whilst at the market you’d be a fool to not also visit Chatsworth House and Gardens. Alternatively, explore the nearby market town of Bakewell (where Jane Austen stayed whilst writing Pride and Prejudice) or the quirkier Thornbridge Hall and Gardens.

If you are looking for a place to stay near the Chatsworth Christmas Market, check out the Devonshire Arms in Beeley or The Rutland Arms in Bakewell.

Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market

Recommended by Nicole from Early Traveler

Visitors experience Winchester Cathedral's Christmas Market and Evensong takes places in the nave.
The location of the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market is what makes it special.
photo credit: Winchester Cathedral

Considered to be one of the best in Europe, the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market has become a popular place to celebrate the holiday season.

The location is what draws many visitors to this Christmas market. The beautiful Winchester Cathedral, one of the finest medieval cathedrals in Europe, is the backdrop for the festivities.

The market itself is located in the Inner Close of the Cathedral. While there may be a few stalls in the front of the cathedral, first-time visitors shouldn’t mistake that as the extent of the market. Visitors should head through the Curle’s Passage to the right of the Cathedral where they will find the majority of the market stalls.

Thousands of people visit this market filled with high quality exhibitors selling Christmas gifts, decorations, and delicious foods. There are plenty of eateries near the market including the Winchester Christmas Market Food Court, Winchester Cathedral Refectory, and nearby are The Dispensary Kitchen and the Winchester Orangery.

Be sure to sample the selection of foods from bratwurst sausages, fish and chips to cheese, wine and other delicacies.  You won’t be able to leave empty-handed with their selections of jewelry, textiles, glass, and wooden made items, whether it is a gift for yourself or someone else.

Once you have done your browsing and shopping, you are able to enjoy the ice rink and other musical performances.  There are also other historical sites in Winchester that you should see.  If you want to stay overnight, the Winchester Hotel & Spa is stylish option.

The market is open from 10am-6:30pm Sunday through Wednesday and 10am-8pm Thursday through Saturday, starting from mid-November all the way to a few days before Christmas.

Bristol Christmas Market

Recommended by Sylvie from Travels with Eden / European Cities with Kids

stalls at the Bristol Christmas market
Bristol Christmas Market has shopping, food, and fun for the whole family.
photo credit: German Events

Bristol Christmas market is one of the best Christmas markets in the UK and perfect for the whole family. The market is located in Bristol city centre, and round from Cabot Circus Shopping Centre, all the way down the main shopping street.

If you want to get some early Christmas shopping in, this Christmas market is one of the first in the UK to open. In 2021, the market was open from 5th November until 23rd December.

Bristol Christmas market is formed of small huts, each with independent stall owners selling everything from handmade children’s Christmas sweaters to unique Christmas gifts and ornaments.  There are also a variety of food stalls where you can buy Christmas hampers for the perfect seasonal gift. Take your pick from handmade festive delicacies to local cheeses.

At the far end of the market, you’ll find a variety of food stalls along with a seating area where festive drinks are also sold. Opt for a vegan hotdog or a Christmas dinner stuffed inside a Yorkshire pudding!

Being in Bristol city centre, there are many attractions nearby! Go on a walk to Bristol Harbourside and explore the Arnolfini gallery or pop into Bristol Aquarium. The Premier Inn Lewins Mead is in a perfect location for visiting the Bristol Christmas market. Alternatively, you can stay nearby at Bristol Harbourside and splash out on the Raddison Blu Hotel.

England’s Best Christmas Markets

Visiting a Christmas market is a fun way to do your shopping while you sample seasonal food and drinks.  It helps to get you in the holiday spirit (if you are not already) and some also have carnival rides.

You do need to be prepared for the crowds though.  Over the years, Christmas markets have become quite popular.

What is your favorite English Christmas market?


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wooden figure with beer tent at winter wonderland one of the best christmas markets in england in the background

Expert Tips for Visiting Christmas Markets in England

  • Check the opening schedule for the market you want to go to, some are only open select days.
  • Go hungry! There will be lots of tempting food that you will want to try.
  • While most vendors will accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to have some cash just in case.  Lines at cash machines can be long, so come prepared.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we will receive a small commission for some purchases made using links in our blog with no additional cost to you.  Please be assured we would not promote any product unless we believe that our readers will also benefit.  The commission does not influence the editorial content of this site.

Last Updated on October 19, 2023

About the Author

Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 41 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). She was born and raised in Texas. After a 13 year stint in NYC, she moved to England to live with her husband.