COVID-19 (Coronavirus) may impact your travel plans. Wherever you're going, you'll find the latest advice here.

News What are the best Christmas markets in the UK and will they go ahead this year?

All articles

What are the best Christmas markets in the UK and will they go ahead this year?

Travel may be difficult, or even off limits, for now - but that doesn't mean we can't make plans for the future. We hope that articles like this one will help you plan your next experience whenever that may be.

Mince pies, mulled wine, festive shopping and a spot of ice skating… there’s nothing quite like Christmas markets. But this year, with COVID-19 and the UK officially going into another lockdown, many UK Christmas markets will not take place. This article will keep you informed on how your favourite Christmas markets are handling the season.

Will UK Christmas markets go ahead this year?

At the time of writing, there are no specific government guidelines for UK Christmas markets, but entertainment venues in general are to remain closed due to COVID-19. Still, some outdoor grounds for entertainment businesses may remain open, so each UK Christmas market is assessing the situation individually.

Many longtime favourites, such as the Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park and the Edinburgh Christmas market are sadly not going to take place this year. Instead, some Christmas markets in the UK are going to take place digitally, giving people the chance to buy goods online and support local businesses. However, other UK Christmas markets are still going ahead, so read on.

What about Christmas markets abroad?

Europe is home to some of the best Christmas markets in the world

Europe is dotted with some of the best Christmas markets in the world. But this year, Christmas shopping abroad will be a bit different. From France to Germany and from the Czech Republic to Greece, many countries are going on a second national lockdown to prevent further spread of COVID-19. As a result, many Christmas markets abroad have either been cancelled or postponed until lockdowns are (hopefully) lifted in December.

So what’s the latest for some of the best Christmas markets in Europe? Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, arguably the most festive Christmas market in Germany, which has been going since the 17th century, is unfortunately cancelled. The same goes for the Christmas market in Prague, at the Old Town Square, although the local authorities have stated that they may add a few small stalls if the situation improves by December. The situation in Vienna seems slightly more optimistic. Although the Christmas markets of the Austrian capital are not open for now, they are expected to fully open in December, after the lockdown.

Thinking of travelling abroad for Christmas to get your fill of European Christmas markets? Travelling is especially difficult right now so you should always check government regulations before booking your trip. And make sure to consult our interactive global map to find out which countries are currently open to travellers from the UK.

The most beautiful Christmas markets in the UK

Ready for some well-deserved Christmas cheer? Check out our picks of the best UK Christmas markets and learn which are going ahead this year.

Southbank Centre Winter market, London

Southbank Centre Winter market in London is one of the best UK Christmas markets

UK’s largest art centre also holds a wonderful Christmas market with a view to the Thames. Along with the centre’s famous food market, the Southbank Centre Winter Market’s stalls, styled like alpine chalets, offer everything from mulled wine and Dutch pancakes to local, sustainable artisan produce.

Will Southbank Centre Winter market be open this year?

Sadly, the Southbank Centre Winter market has been cancelled this year. As for its food market, it may reopen around 4 December. Stay tuned to the official website for more information.

Greenwich Christmas market, London

Greenwich market in London is doing Christmas late shopping Wednesday events this year

Greenwich Christmas market is a bit different to other UK Christmas markets in the sense that it technically runs all year long. But at Christmas, with the twinkling lights ahead and the great selection of handcrafted gifts from British designers, it becomes even more magical. Here you can find everything from eco-friendly candles and antique tea cups to handmade jewellery and of course, delectable treats.

Will the Greenwich Christmas market be open this year?

Yes! Currently the Greenwich Market is open seven days a week, 10am-5:30pm, for takeaway food only until 2 December. For the Christmas season, they have currently announced three Christmas Late shopping events, on 9, 16 and 23 December, where the market will remain open from 11am to 8pm for your Christmas shopping needs.

York Christmas Festival, York

York Christmas festival is one of the most popular in the UK

There’s something particularly merry about the St. Nicholas Fair that takes place every year in York, during the city’s annual Christmas Festival. The picturesque wooden cabins that line Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square are brimming with everything from handcrafted goods and Christmas decorations, to hearty carry soups, waffles and hot chocolate.

Will York Christmas Festival be open this year?

Sadly, due to COVID-19 York’s St Nicholas Fair will not take place this year. But you’ll have a chance to shop handcrafted goods and support the local businesses via a virtual Christmas market that will open soon. Stay tuned to their official site for more information.

Nottingham Winter Wonderland, Nottingham

Nottingham Winter Wonderland is one of the best UK Christmas markets

With the ice rink at its centre in Slab Square, reflecting the lights of the stalls, bars and restaurants, Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland is certainly one of the most dazzling UK Christmas markets. Think more than 50 timber stalls selling every from handmade knits and gifts to artisan cheeses, while several themed bars (last year they had a Narnia theme) make it an all-day experience.

Will Nottingham Winter Wonderland be open this year?

We don’t know yet. Currently the Nottingham Winter Wonderland website is down for maintenance, but they’ve been teasing “some exciting announcement coming very soon” on social media so stay tuned to learn more later in the month.

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham

Birmingham Christmas market is sadly cancelled this year

Dubbed ‘the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany’, Birmingham’s Christmas market takes over Victoria Square every year with its 80+ stalls. Here you can find an endless supply of German treats (think pretzels, schnitzel and a mean garlic bread), as well as locally produced gifts, soap and musical instruments.

Will Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market be open this year?

Unfortunately, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market has been cancelled this year. Keep an eye on its website for news of when the Christmas market will return (hopefully in 2021).

Chatsworth Estate Christmas market, Bakewell

Chatsworth Estate is the place to be this Christmas

The home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, with its 105-acre garden, transforms into a breathtaking winter wonderland every Christmas. The Christmas market features over 100 stalls where you can find Christmas decor and wreaths as well as gifts for your pet and delectable eats.

Will Chatsworth Estate Christmas market be open this year?

This year, the Chatsworth Christmas market has been cancelled, but its Christmas magic hasn’t. For starters, you have the opportunity to shop everything online through a virtual Christmas market, to support local traders. But you can also still plan a Christmas visit to the beautiful country estate from 3 December onwards: book your ticket online to enjoy an experience complete with festive dining and stockings hung by the fire. 

Bath Christmas Market, Bath

Bath Christmas market is one of the best UK Christmas markets

When it comes to Christmas markets Bath takes the cake. It’s not just the near-200 wooden stalls lining the streets of the city. It’s also the ancient city itself, marvellously illuminated and becoming an almost mystical background for the Christmas market. What’s on offer? Everything from quirky jewellery to handmade wooden toys, festive foods and mulled wine.

Will Bath Christmas Market be open this year?

Like many other UK Christmas markets this year, Bath Christmas market is cancelled in its physical form, but taken online instead. So you’ll have a chance to shop special Christmas goodies for you and your loved ones, direct from the makers. Plus, the city of Bath promises an exciting Christmas programme with music and entertainment, so if you’re considering Bath for your UK staycation this Christmas, go for it.

Winchester Christmas Market, Winchester

The market outside Winchester cathedral has sadly been cancelled this year

The Christmas market outside the majestic Winchester cathedral has been a favourite holiday shopping destination for more than a decade. And for good reason. There are about 30 charities operating the market, as well as 120 small, local businesses offering handmade goods and Christmas gifts and treats. Perfect for doing some good while buying Christmas gifts.

Will Winchester Christmas Market be open this year?

Unfortunately not. An official statement from Winchester Cathedral regarding its Christmas market reads: “We will be working hard with our partners to find alternative ways to support the city, after what has been a difficult year for many, and to bring festive cheer to Winchester in both traditional and new creative ways.” Stay tuned to the website for news.

Belfast Continental Christmas market, Belfast

Belfast has one of the best Christmas markets in the UK

The Northern Ireland capital sports an impressive Christmas market outside of Belfast City Hall every year. There are 100 stalls, with about 40 of them being international. So apart from all the local creations and delicacies, you can also expect to find food offerings from across Europe, from Dutch pancakes and French crepes to continental beers.

Will Belfast Continental Christmas market be open this year?

Sadly, no. An announcement on the Belfast Christmas Market Facebook page makes it clear that the event is cancelled for 2020. However, Belfast is still bringing on the Christmas cheer with its shops and restaurants remaining open for the Christmas season. Check their website for news and events.

Edinburgh Christmas market, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Christmas market will take place virtually this year

The Scottish capital features several Christmas markets. The most popular ones are the Scottish Christmas Market on George Street, where you can find traditional Scottish flavours and fare, as well as the European Christmas Market, in East Princes Street Gardens where you can shop anything from hand-blown tree ornaments to toys and treats.

Will Edinburgh Christmas market be open this year?

Yes, but only virtually. Edinburgh is following the example of other UK cities, from Bath to York, and bringing the Christmas Market experience online. Bookmark the official website Edinburgh Christmas for more updates as they become available.

Swansea Christmas Market, Swansea

Swansea Christmas market is one of the best UK Christmas markets

Lining up Oxford Street in Swansea, the stalls of Swansea Christmas market offer a colourful assortment of local wares. The Welsh Christmas market is known for its more unusual, offbeat offerings such as seaweed-infused gin, intricate jewellery and good-luck charms, as well as artisan cheeses and sweets. There’s also a Santa’s grotto for the little ones.

Will Swansea Christmas Market be open this year?

Yes! From 27 November to 21 December, you can expect to find the Swansea Christmas market in full bloom, although possibly with less stalls and more crowd control. According to the website, they are following the latest government advice and will have daily on-site support, in order to deliver a festive and safe shopping experience.

So there you have it. From getting the latest scoop on UK Christmas markets to scoping out Christmas markets abroad, this article can help you plan your holiday shopping and trips even amidst all the current uncertainty. Just make sure to always check the official websites of the UK Christmas markets listed here for updates, and always check local government guidelines before booking travel.

Discover where you can go

Making plans to get back out there? Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

Christmas markets in the UK FAQ

Will Christmas markets be cancelled in 2020?

Many Christmas markets have opted to not go ahead this year due to COVID-19 and have taken the marketplace online instead. But there are several UK Christmas markets that are still taking place this year. Make sure to check the official website of the city you’re interested in, to find out the latest news about local Christmas markets.

When do Christmas markets start?

Usually, UK Christmas markets start in mid-November and many of them carry on until January. This year however, due to the national lockdown, the UK Christmas markets that are still going forward will be starting after 3 December.

When do Christmas markets start in Europe?

Most Christmas markets in Europe start mid-November and carry on until January. This year however, due to several European countries experiencing a second national lockdown, Christmas markets may be postponed or cancelled entirely. Always check the official websites for more info and make sure to consult government guidelines and our interactive global map before booking any travel.