Christmas markets are springing up all over the UK and Europe - here’s our pick of those not to be missed
Mulled wine, unique, handmade gifts and seasonal goodies, there’s nothing more Christmassy than getting in to the spirit of the festive season at a Christmas market or Christmas fare.
And there are plenty of Christmas markets to explore – whether you venture to a historic European square for a more traditional take, or wrap-up warm to enjoy the lights, sights and sounds of your local city’s Christmas fare this December.
Our favourite British and European Christmas markets are guaranteed to make the festive season really magical. Don’t miss out, click through now…
Winchester’s Christmas Market, in the grounds of the medieval cathedral, can rival the best in Germany. Founded in 2006, it’s quickly grown into a must-do on the UK Christmas calendar. Go shopping for locally-produced textiles, glass work and jewellery, before letting the kids loose on the real ice rink. This year, the market is running from Thursday 19th November – Tuesday 22nd December, 10am – 6pm from Sun-Wed and 10am – 7:30pm Thurs-Sat.
It’s only a short hop to Lille thanks to the Eurostar, where the Place Rihour is filled with wooden chalet stalls, gourmet treats and festive finds. The chic French market also features a giant ferris wheel and we’re told Father Christmas often turns up to bungee jump from the Chamber of Commerce’s Belfry! Visit from Weds 18th November – Weds 30th December, 11am-8pm. Head to Lille’s Tourist Office website for more information
One of the most famous Christmas markets in Germany and the world, visitors from all over the globe travel to Nuremberg Christkindelsmarkt each year for the month-long spectacular. Munch on traditional spicy gingerbread while you pick up wooden nativity sets and tree ornaments. It’s worth the trip just to gawp at the amazing illuminations! Runs from Friday 27th November – Christmas Eve. Check the website for opening hours.
The UK’s biggest Christmas market attracts over two million visitors every year. Confusingly called the Frankfurt Christmas Market, this is in fact reference to Birmingham’s twin city in Germany. Now in its 13th year, enjoy handmade toys, jewellery and decorations from over 180 stalls with a Teutonic twist. From Thursday 12th November – Tuesday 22nd December, 10am – 9pm.
Those in the capital should make their way to Hyde Park for a whole flurry of frosty activities at the Winter Wonderland. Along with the wooden food, drink and festive chalets, you can ride the giant observation wheel, ice skate in the largest rink in London, watch live ice sculpting, or just sit back and enjoy Zippo’s circus. Opens on Friday 20th November to 3rd January, 10am-10pm. Entrance to the park is free, but some charges apply.
Or, if you prefer your Christmas markets a bit more serene and traditional, how about some festive fare, carols and German mulled wine by the Thames? Soak up the atmosphere at The Winter Festival while watching the London Eye sparkle. From 15th November – 24th December.
Prague is the perfect setting for the brightly decorated wooden huts that make up the Christmas Markets, with its medieval streets and Gothic architecture. You can find one market in the Old Town Square, and the other in Wenceslas Square – we’re sure we know a carol about that…Stock up on stocking fillers, crystal trinkets and plenty of warming Czech beer. From 20th November until the first week of January, various times.
Berlin boasts more than 60 vibrant Christmas markets, each with their own unique appeal. Go traditional with WeihnactsZauber, or pick up some trendy textiles and sculptures along with more usual festive fare at the city’s biggest market in the shadow of the Gedächtniskirche, a partially restored bombed-out church. From 23rd November – 31st December. Opening times vary.
Sandwiched between Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, Bath’s annual festive market is like a scene from a Christmas card. Over 100 sweet chalet stalls adorned with twinkling fairy lights sell all the presents you could possibly need, while the sound of carol singers echoes around the Abbey. Perfect for some early Christmas cheer. Runs from Thursday 26th November to Sunday 13th December. Check the Bath Christmas market website for opening times.
In Copenhagen, Christmas means one thing: a trip to the magical Tivoli Gardens for plenty of family-friendly, fairytale fun. Last year, the Gardens were transformed in to a breathtaking Russian city, complete with a colourful replica of St. Basil’s Cathedral, mini Tarns-Siberian railway, Fabergé eggs and Russian Father Frost. No wonder Tivoli attracts more than one million visitors every year. Book your flights now!
Fast-becoming one of Britain’s biggest Christmas fares, Lincoln city centre is transformed every December in to a chocolate box winter wonderland scene for a weekend, with stalls covering the cobbles of the city’s medieval square. Lincoln cathedral provides the perfect backdrop for Christmas music, mulled wine and present shopping. Thursday 3rd to Sunday 6th December, visit LincolnChristmasMarket.com for more info.
Vienna has some fabulous Christmas markets, and Spittelberg is one of the very best as it’s less commercial than most. This Austrian market has grown to more than 100 craft and culinary stalls over the last century but still remains quintessentially Viennese with a laid-back, social feel. Be sure to check out the advent windows at nearby Rathausplatz Market too – each one is designed by a local artist. On from 13th November to 23rd December.