What are the best Christmas markets in the UK and will they go ahead in 2020?

Which one will you be visiting?
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  • Christmas markets are a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit and provide festive fun for all the family. But with events being cancelled because of coronavirus across the UK this year, will Christmas markets in the Uk still go ahead?

    When the countdown to Christmas commences, an annual tradition for many is to visit the best UK Christmas markets.

    Festive fun for the whole family, it’s a fab chance to get some of your shopping done whilst tucking into a mince pie and a glass (or two) of mulled wine.

    The best UK Christmas Markets are SO much more than just shopping and Christmas food these days too. There’s ice rinks, fun fares and entertainers galore to keep the kids happy. Plus beer tents are set up for adults to enjoy live music and a cheeky Stein after stocking up on Christmas toys and treats.

    However, because of the continued threat of Covid-19 in the UK, sadly many Christmas markets around the country have already announced that they will not be going ahead in 2020. This is for safety reasons and because social distancing will be impossible to maintain.

    In our pick of the best UK Christmas markets below, we’ve got the latest information on their plans for 2020 and if they are still going ahead this year.

    BEST UK CHRISTMAS MARKETS 2020:

    Best UK Christmas markets in London

    Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park


    One of the best UK Christmas markets is the infamous Winter Wonderland. Hyde Park is usually transformed into Winter Wonderland with festive themed stalls, rides and an ice rink. A celeb favourite right in the centre of London, visitors can indulge in a mulled wine in the Bavarian village and sample German sausage delicacies. There are even rides (including a ferris wheel) and pop-up pubs!

    Will Winter Wonderland go ahead in 2020? Sadly the organisers of Winter Wonderland have announced that they have cancelled the event for 2020 and will be bringing the much loved London event back in 2021 instead.

    The organisers said: “It is with a heavy heart we share that Hyde Park Winter Wonderland will not be taking place this year…We know how disappointing this news will be for the millions of people we usually welcome each season. And we can assure you we share your disappointment, having put a lot of work, sweat and even some tears into trying to make this year’s event possible.”

    Find out more at hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

    A picture of Winter Wonderland in London, one of the best UK Christmas markets

    Credit: Getty Images

    Wintertime at Southbank Centre

    The Southbank Centre’s Christmas market is always at the top of our favourite list. Usually starting in November and running until early January, you can enjoy nearly three months of festive activities and pop-ups all under twinkling lights along the Thames and there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

    Will the Christmas Market at the Southbank Centre go ahead in 2020? At the time of writing, the Southbank Centre have not confirmed if they will run a Christmas Market in 2020. However, the cultural venue’s famous food market has been running with Covid-19 safety measures this summer, so this brings a glimmer of hope that a festive market of some sort may be able to take place on the banks of the Thames this winter.

    The Southbank Centre have said on their website: “We will update you as our plans develop for the autumn and as it becomes clearer when we may be able to reopen. In the meantime, we look forward to the time when we can all be together again enjoying cultural experiences in our wonderful venues.”

    Find out more at southbankcentre.co.uk

    Christmas Market in the evening on South Bank in London

    (Photo by Pawel Libera/LightRocket via Getty Images)

    Christmas By The River

    Returning for it’s seventh year in 2020, explore the twinkling wooden cabins at this traditional Christmas market which stretches along The Queen’s Walk. Your view will overlook iconic London landmarks including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and the City of London.

    When? Tuesday 24th November 2020 – Sunday 3rd January 2021

    At the time of writing, Christmas By The River is still going ahead for 2020.

    Find out more at here.

    Christmas market in Greenwich

    Feel the festive glow as historic Greenwich Market lights up for Christmas. The market is open every day in the run-up to Christmas. Set within a world heritage site, the covered market showcases more than 150 stalls selling crafts, jewellery, fashion, beauty, antiques, art and more, as well as festive street food and drinks to get you in the Christmas spirit.

    When? 2020 dates are yet to be confirmed, but at the moment the outdoor Greenwich Market is open every Thursday – Sunday 10am to 5.30pm.

    Find out more at Greenwichmarketlondon.com

    Winterville

    Winterville is the alternative answer to all of your Christmassy and magical prayers. A pop-up festive town that started life in East London before moving to Clapham Common, Winterville offers something a little different to your classic Christmas market cliches. If you’re looking for an event that’s as fun for kids as it is parents, this could be it!

     

    Is Winterville going ahead in 2020? Sadly Winterville will not be taking place this year and there is no news yet as to whether the Christmas market will return for 2021.

    Visit: winterville.co.uk

    Best UK Christmas markets in the North

    York Christmas Festival

    You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped straight into a Dicken’s novel when you stroll around this quintessentially British, magical Christmas market. With local produce, arts and crafts sold on the Victorian stalls accompanied by the sounds of carol singers, it will even get the family Scrooge in the festive mood.

    In fact, a few years ago, York was voted the UK’s most festive city, so where better to celebrate the special season?

    When? 2020 dates are currently TBC. However, at the time of writing, York Christmas market is still going ahead this year.

    The organisers have said: “We are going ahead with planning for St Nicholas’ Fair this year, and our top priority is to ensure the event is safe and delivered in line with Government guidance – providing lockdown restrictions are lifted.”

    Find out more at visityork.org

    Members of the public shopping in the 'St Nicholas Fair' Christmas market in the city centre of York

    (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

    Leeds Christkindelmarkt

    Over forty wooden chalet stalls take over Leeds’ Millennium Square for their annual Christkindelmarkt every festive season. With traditional handcrafted toys, jewellery and cards you’ll be crossing things off that ‘to buy’ list in no time. If you can find a sitter for the kids, head to the infamous beer tent at the centre of the market for a giant stein of beer and some live entertainment.

    Is Leeds Christmas market going ahead for 2020? Unfortunately, Leeds Christmas Market has been cancelled for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The organisers are planning to bring the event back for 2021.

    Manchester Christmas market

    There are over 300 stalls to browse in nine different locations throughout the city, as Manchester is transformed into a chalet lined city of Christmas dreams! Foodwise, there’s everything from French Profiteroles to Hungarian goulash and Spanish Paella, so even the fussiest of eaters will find something to sink their teeth into.

    When? A decision is expected at some point in September as to whether Manchester Christmas market will still go ahead for 2020.
    Find out more at visitmanchester.com

    Manchester Christmas market in the UK.

    Manchester Christmas market. Credit: Getty Images

    Skipton Christmas Market

    Sample seasonal delights and do a spot of Christmas shopping during at this famous Christmas market in the Yorkshire Dales. The whole town has a Christmassy feel and as well as stalls selling local crafts and products, there’s a whole host of live music on offer too. Plus, Santa’s Reindeer normally put in an appearance too!

    When? 2020 dates are TBC but at the moment Skipton market is still running as usual.

    Find out more at here.

    Darlington Christmas market

    Darlington in County Durham hosts a three-day Christmas market, offering street food, artisan crafts, as well as music and entertainment. It’s free entry, but because it’s only happening over three days, we reckon the place will get pretty busy!

    When? 4th – 6th December 2020

    Find out more here.

    North Shields Victorian Christmas market

    Named as one of the ‘most popular events in the North of England’, this North Tyneside market is home to hundreds of different stalls, selling seasonal crafts and gifts, as well as the classic Christmas food, and fairground rides for the kids – so there’s something for the whole family.

    When? The North Shields Christmas market is still going ahead this year on 12th – 13th December 2020. The event runs between 10am and 5pm on Saturday and 10am and 4pm on the Sunday.

    Find out more at visitnorthtyneside.com

    Best UK Christmas markets in the Midlands

    Nottingham Winter Wonderland

    Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland is one of the largest festive events in the Midlands and rolls into town every year complete with an ice rink, rides, Narnia themed bars and an epic food hall.  A perfect destination for a festive family day out, there is also a great night life and entertainment scene in the evenings. Just don’t drink and skate!

    When? 2020 dates TBC, but at the time of writing the event is still going ahead.

    Find out more at nottinghamwinterwonderland.co.uk

    Birmingham Christmas market

    Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas market is the largest outdoor Christmas market in the UK (and also apparently the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany). The annual event practically takes over the centre of the city! Mulled wine, live music and traditional German foods are on offer while you roam the stalls for artisan goods, arts and crafts. Bratwurst anyone?

    Is Birmingham Christmas Market going ahead in 2020? Organisers of Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market have confirmed that the popular festive event will not take place this year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Kurt Stroscher, Frankfurt City Council’s Director of Festivals and Events, said: “The decision to cancel the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market has been made with a very heavy heart. We have carefully explored all possible options, because of its importance to the public, traders and local economy but the health and safety of visitors had to be our top priority.”

    Organisers hope the market will return as normal in 2021.

    Find out more at germanchristmasmarketbirmingham.com

    One of the best UK Christmas markets in Birmingham

    Birmingham Christmas market.

    Chatsworth Estate Christmas market

    The beautiful country estate is transformed every year into a winter wonderland. With a different theme each year, there is always live music from string quartets and brass bands filling the airwaves while you browse for Christmas goodies in over 100 different stalls. With the sprawling Chatsworth grounds around you too, there’s plenty to make a fun filled family day out.

    When? At the moment it is still to be confirmed whether the Christmas market at Chatsworth will go ahead in 2020.

    The organisers say: “We are currently looking at plans for how we can run the Christmas market in 2020, ensuring a wonderful experience, and the safety of our visitors, staff and stall holders. As soon as a decision has been made about this year’s event, we will publicise details.”

    Find out more at chatsworth.org

    Best UK Christmas markets in the South

    St Albans Christmas market

    The St Albans market is on almost every day of the year, but it usually has a festive makeover for the month of December. Enjoy mulled wine from various pop-up bars, and gift shopping at over 100 stalls. It spans the entire length of the main high street, so you’ll have plenty to browse during an afternoon in the Hertfordshire city.

    When? 2020 dates TBC

    Find out more at enjoystalbans.com

    Bath Christmas market

    Bath’s yuletide market has taken on a worldwide reputation over the last 19 years and with 200 stalls you can see why. The wooden chalets that line up outside the stunning Bath Abbey, sell everything from festive foods and bespoke jewellery to handmade Christmas decorations and cosy knitwear. The surrounding streets are filled with a constant stream of atmospheric music and carols while the smell of winter spices and mulled wine makes this the perfect winter paradise.

    When? Bath Christmas market has been cancelled for 2020. The organisers have said:

    “We are sad to announce that this year’s Bath Christmas Market has been cancelled.

    “There will, however, be an exciting programme of events happening in Bath in the run-up to Christmas, including music and entertainment, street stalls and artisan food, meaning you can still discover the magic of Bath this Christmas.”

    Find out more bathchristmasmarket.co.uk

    The Après-ski bar at the Abbey Hotel next to Bath Christmas MarketThe Après-ski bar at the Abbey Hotel next to Bath Christmas Market

    Exeter Christmas Market


    This quaint market is held in the heart of Exeter on the Cathedral Green. With just 50 stalls, it’s a little more intimate than the rest, but that just means there’s a great selection of local food and produce on offer alongside the usual Christmas market essentials.

    When? Dates for the 2020 Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market will be released soon.

    Find out more at exeter-cathedral.org.uk

    Cirencester Christmas Market


    Christmas in the Cotswolds couldn’t be more fun with Cirencester’s annual Advent Festival. With market stalls, music and live entertainment getting everyone into the Christmas spirit, the evening culminates in the turning on of the Christmas lights by a special celeb. Cirencester always run various different markets throughout December too, including an arts and crafts market, and a farmer’s market for all your delicious food needs.

    When? Saturday, 5 December 2020 – Sunday, 6 December 2020

    Find out more at cirencester.gov.uk

    Winchester Christmas Market

    Winchester’s lovely market and ice rink has been running every Christmas for 13 years. There’s over 100 stalls to choose from selling Christmas goodies and seasonal food and drink. Thw bustling market in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral is still due to go ahead this year for 2020.

    When? Thursday 19 November – Tuesday 22 December 2020
    Open from 10.00am – 6.30pm, Sunday – Wednesday, and 10.00am – 8.00pm, Thursday – Saturday.

    Find out more winchester-cathedral.org.uk

    Padstow Christmas Festival

    This coastal Christmas market attracts tens of thousands of people to the picturesque harbourside town of Padstow in Cornwall every year. The popular Christmas Market is free to attend and features more than 100 food, drink and crafts producers from across the West Country. Showcasing everything from artisan breads, cakes and cheeses to award-winning craft gins and ales, and an eclectic range of gifts and artwork. There’s also live music, a lantern parade, Santa’s grotto and huge fireworks display over the harbour.

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    The winner of this year's Lantern Parade, for the second year running, is St Issey School for its beautiful Rainbow Fish, which was absolutely stunning. . However, we were completely overwhelmed by the number of lanterns that crowded into the Sharp's Chefs Theatre. It was amazing! In recognition of the effort and commitment shown by every single person, we are awarding St Issey School, Padstow School, Trevisker School, St Merryn School and St Eval Beavers £100 each. . Thank you all for making the Lantern Parade 2019 so special. . Photos by @beersargent. . . #lanterns #lanternparade #children #happy #padstowchristmasfestival #pcf2019 #festive #festival #foodfestival #padstow #cornwall #christmas #party #christmasfestival #foodanddrink #artsandcrafts #chefs #demos #streetfood #bythesea #travel #foodtourism #lovefood #celebritychef #kernowfornia #lovecornwall

    A post shared by Padstow Christmas Festival (@padstowxmas) on

    When? Padstow Christmas market has sadly been cancelled for 2020. The festival organisers have said:

    “It is with heavy hearts that the committee and I have to announce the cancellation of this year’s Padstow Christmas Festival, which was due to take place from Thursday 3 to Sunday 6 December 2020. This has not been an easy decision to make, and we would like to thank everyone involved in the festival for their unwavering support.”

    The dates for next year’s festival have been provisionally agreed with Padstow Harbour Commissioners, and will take place from Thursday 2 to Sunday 5 December 2021.

    Find out more at padstowchristmasfestival.co.uk

    Best UK Christmas markets in Northern Ireland

    Belfast Continental Christmas Market

    The grounds of Belfast City Hall are transformed annually into a magical Christmas shopping destination. The Belfast Christmas market is famous for offering food and wares from all over Europe. You’re sure to find (and taste!) something special any festive season – such as Dutch pancakes and French crepes – as you shop under the city’s magical Christmas lights. Even Santa makes an appearance to visit the little ones too.

    When? At the time of writing, Belfast Christmas Market 2020 is still scheduled to go ahead. it is due to take place from 16 Nov – 22 Dec 2020.

    Find out more at visit-belfast.com

    Belfast Christmas Market.

    (Credit: visitbelfast.com)

    Best UK Christmas markets in Scotland

    Edinburgh Christmas market

    There’s more than one market to choose from in the Scottish capital, from East Princes Street Gardens to George Street. With traditional Scottish, European and special children’s markets all taking place throughout the city over the festive season, so even the wee ones will have a market to be excited about.

    When? 16th November 2019 – 4th January 2020

    Find out more at edinburghschristmas.com

    Aberdeen Christmas Village

    Aberdeen Christmas Village traditionally takes place in the Broad Street area of the city. It’s got shed-loads of activities on offer, including an open-air ice rink, a silent disco, a Santa’s grotto, and of course, the all-important festive food and drink.

    When? Sadly Aberdeen’s Christmas Village will not run this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ice skates as she joins Kirsty Blackman, SNP election candidate for Aberdeen North campaigning at the Aberdeen Christmas Market on December 7, 2019 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ice skates at the Aberdeen Christmas Market in 2019. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

    Perth’s International Christmas market

    Watch in awe as the city of Perth transforms into a Winter Wonderland every festive season. The market is normally full of wooden chalet stalls and there is a magical Christmas Lantern Parade set to the sound of carol singers performing festive classics.

    When? 2020 dates TBC

    Find out more here.

    Glasgow Christmas Markets

    In a lovely village setting, there are two Christmas markets in Glasgow most years – one in St. Enoch square, and the other in George Square. Expect lots of delicious global cuisine and charming artisan gifts and products.

    When? 2020 dates TBC.

    Find out more at glasgowlife.org.uk

    Best UK Christmas markets in Wales

    Swansea Christmas Market

    Pop down to Swansea’s Oxford Street for your festive shopping fix this year. Browse the stalls and enjoy some fabulous festive entertainment throughout the season with lots going on at Museum Park too. Plus there’s artisan cheese to try and specialities from local food sellers. You can even stop and watch the art of glass blowing! Santa will be stopping by at his grotto too, on Portland Street.

    When? Friday 27th November – Monday 21st December 2020

    Swansea Christmas Market is returning for 2020 and organisers say there are following the latest government advice so that with ‘daily on-site support’, Swansea Christmas Market can go ahead with a festive and safe shopping experience for all.

    Find out more here.

    Cardiff Christmas Market

    Cardiff’s Christmas market will be taking over the city’s pedestrian area again this year, with tons of exhibitors lining the streets. Organisers have promised ‘another exciting and eclectic mix of both new and returning exhibitors’ so there will be something for everyone. With over 90 per cent of the stall holders being small Welsh businesses, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’re shopping local. Pop down for a glass of wine and hot welsh cake – you know you want to.

    When? Thursday 12 November to Wednesday 23 December 2020 @ St John Street, Working Street, the Hayes, Hills Street and Trinity Street

    Find out more at cardiffchristmasmarket.com

    On going ahead in 2020 the organisers have said: “We can confirm that the Cardiff Christmas Market will return to the pedestrian streets of Cardiff City Centre in 2020.

    “Subject to any Covid relevant legislation/guidelines current at the time from the Welsh Assembly and Cardiff Council respectively, in order to make your visit as safe and as enjoyable as possible.”