Will the Christmas markets go ahead in the UK in 2020?

2020 has been a year like no other and it looks like the restrictions consequential of the global coronavirus pandemic are going to carry on well in 2021 - but what does this mean for Christmas?

Christmas Markets 2020 UK

A trip to the Christmas markets is usually as part and parcel of our annual festive build up as tucking into a seasonal mince pie or the festive playlist dominating the radio.

Hoards of crowds descend on city hotspots, which have been transformed into alpine-style villages, brimming with festive treats. Is it even December if you've not stood feeling slightly soggy with a lukewarm mulled wine in hand, a Bavarian brass band blaring out familiar tunes in the the background?

But 2020 is no usual year and, understandably, things are going to look very different this Christmas. We can still get into the festive spirit with some classic films at home and treating ourselves to an exciting beauty advent calendar or gin advent calendar, group events may still be off the cards, for now.

Will Christmas Markets in the UK be cancelled?

Right now, the fate of many Christmas Markets in the UK for the 2020 festive season remains undecided. There are a handful of destinations that are still set to go ahead, while some are definitely cancelled, such as Winter Wonderland in London.

“It is highly unlikely that Christmas markets will be allowed to go ahead this year, especially since other events similar to these have already been cancelled such as Winter Wonderland based in central London," Dr Giuseppe Aragona, GP and medical advisor at Prescription Doctor, told us.

"However, it may depend on the area and size of the market, with smaller more localised markets being allowed to go ahead providing social distancing measures are in place."

Many small businesses are disappointed that they won't be able to take part in Christmas Markets in the UK this year. Summerton Whiskey Club were planning to hold a festive market in St Albans this year, but have had to pull out. "We were looking to run a whisky themed Christmas market but have put those plans on hold until we can safely have a crowd attending," they told woman&home.

These are the UK Christmas markets going ahead in 2020

These are the Christmas markets that are still going ahead, at the time of writing:

  • Edinburgh
  • Cardiff
  • London
  • York
  • Skipton
  • Darlington

London's big festive extravaganzas, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and the more recent Winterville, which is usually held on Clapham Common, will not be taking place this year. Organisers of Winter Wonderland confirmed the news last month that they would not be able to go ahead with the annual event and ensure social distancing is adhered to.

"The layout of Christmas markets is often quite cramped and packed in, and you often find you are rubbing shoulders with strangers, whether that be walking round the market or queuing at a stall or for a ride. Social distancing would be incredibly difficult, and it would mean that the organisers would have to limit the amount of people who head into the area at one time, as well of course changing up the layout to fit with the 6 person rule, and then this may take away the magic of a Christmas market," Dr Giuseppe told us.

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"It simply would be far too difficult to distance yourself from other people in the tight lanes of a market, as well as being safe when eating, shopping, heading on rides or going into grottos. Further-more, we already know that the cold weather could increase the transmission of the disease, so walking around a packed outdoor or indoor bar, or grotto area with others who may be coughing and sneezing could promote a number of transmissions should someone have Covid-19."

Will Manchester Christmas markets take place this year?

Christmas Markets 2020 UK

There was some speculation that the markets would go ahead, but hopes of having even three small mini-markets have been dashed. Councillor Pat Karney said it was a "very disappointing" since the markets had brought "great joy and enjoyment over the past 25 years".

He added, "We kept it under review but commercially and public healthwise they didn't pass the test."

How can we keep safe if we do attend the UK Christmas Markets?

Like with any social situation in the current climate, social distancing should be adhered to at all times and a mask should be worn wherever possible.

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"I highly doubt markets will go ahead, as they are a great risk to the general public," Dr Giuseppe told us.

"However, local towns may still be able to hold markets as they can monitor them more easily, as long as they limit the amount of people who go in, ensure everyone is wearing a mask and add hand sanitiser stations around the areas to limit the risk.”

Lauren Hughes
Lauren Hughes

Lauren is deputy editor at woman&home.com in the UK and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has worked on the woman&home brand for four years. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine. After starting out working for a local paper in Yorkshire, her journalism career took her to Bristol where she hunted out stories for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant.

Lauren loves helping people share their stories, bringing experiences to life online, honing her interview techniques with everyone from authors to celebrities, headteachers to local heroes. As well as having a good nose for a story, Lauren has a passion for the English language and years of experience optimizing digital content to reach the widest audience possible. During her time at w&h, Lauren has worked on big brand campaigns like the Amazing Women Awards and assisted in developing w&h expert-approved Buyer's Guides—the place to go if you're looking to splash out on an important purchase and want some trusted advice. In addition to her journalism career, Lauren also has a background in copywriting for prestigious brands such as Inhabit Hotel, eco-development K'in in Tulum, social enterprise The Goldfinger Factory and leading London architect Holland Harvey, using language in all its glorious forms, from detailed guidebooks to snappy social content. 

A big fan of adventure, Lauren is also a keen travel writer and loves sharing tips on where to find the best places to eat, drink, and be merry off the beaten track. Lauren has written a series of travel guides for London hotels and loves sharing her insights into a destination's cultural and culinary offerings. If you need a recommendation on any UK destination, she's more than happy to help. At the weekend, you'll usually find her hanging out with her pet cat (or anyone else's pet she can get her hands on), escaping to the countryside, or devouring a good book. 

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