Christmas is approaching once again. For a fun-filled, action packed day out filled with adventure and festivities, think Christmas Markets. Returning very soon once again to locations nationwide, Christmas markets and winter fairs are perfect for those who want to revel in and sample a little Christmas spirit, as they amble through decorated streets packed with stalls manned by the friendliest locals, selling everything from handmade gifts produced by skilled artisans, to delicious food and drink with a festive twist.
Checklist’s Travel writing team feature a selection of magical Christmas Fairs to visit in the UK, to truly get you in the festive spirit.
When: 3rd November – 23rd December 2022
Birmingham’s Christmas Market transforms the centre of the city into a winter wonderland. In what is officially the largest German Market outside of Germany and Austria, you would be forgiven for thinking you had stepped foot in Bavaria, as you amble through streets just as buzzing.
In what is an atmosphere packed with festive cheer, take in incredible live music and entertainments as you wander through the packed streets. The famous big wheel returns, for those keen to get a bird’s eye view of the festivities, whilst visitors wanting to get their skates on can do so at the popular ice rink. The Frankfurt Market is not to be missed, offering a wide range of products. These include Christmas decorations, handcrafted jewellery, carved wooden toys, not to mention authentic German cuisine, notably sausages, bratwurst, pretzels, and of course their acclaimed beer.
The Christmas Craft Market is a dream for visitors looking for high-quality artisanal gifts. Find vendors selling everything from handmade crafts, soaps and candles, to a wide range of unique and quirky items imported from around the world.
Find out more at Visit Birmingham
Southbank: London, England
When: 3rd November – 8th January 2023
Christmas in the nation’s capital is truly a magical experience. None more so than the Southbank Centre Winter Market. Bask in twinkling nights and festive décor as you stroll along the Thames, which is transformed into a true winter wonderland.
There are an abundance of activities to indulge in, with a little something for everyone. There is an abundance of delicious street food to sample at Jimmy’s Winter Lodge, offering the opportunity for al fresco cheese fondue sessions and to toast marshmallows. Further down visitors will comes across Beltane & Pop, providing a range of festive alcoholic treats. The outdoor Winter Light exhibition is one of several dazzling arts and exhibits, which includes the Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art and the free, Ai Weiwei-curated Koestler Arts: Freedom.
Fans of musicals are in luck. Numerous musicals are on show, with something to suit all ages. Travel to east Tennessee in a brand-new musical twist on the classic Dickens tale from the Queen of Country at Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol. Or why not join in the family fun with Duggee and the Squirrels in Hey Duggee: The Live Theatre Show.
Find out more at South Bank Centre
When: 19th November – 24th December
Taking a hike to the northeast of England, Newcastle City Centre plays host annually to the Newcastle Christmas Market. Visitors can expect to come across the famous Geordie hospitality and spirit as they soak up the festivities.
The market will stretch from Grainger Street, along Grainger Market and the top of Grey Street to Old Eldon Square. It will proudly showcase and celebrate Newcastle’s very own local independent businesses and creators. Stalls will range from handmade jewellery, clothing, and beauty products to farmer’s market staples like homemade chutneys and preserves. While perusing the stalls, you will find no shortage of nibbles, with the enticing flavours of Caribbean, Chinese and Greek food stalls to choose from.
Regardless of what you’re on the hunt for, you’re sure to find the perfect Christmas gift, with the added benefit of supporting local creators. To top it all off, Santa himself will be in attendance, so the little ones will not be left disappointed.
Find out more at Newcastle’s Christmas
When: 17th November – 23rd December
A trip off the beaten path, York is a hidden gem which truly comes to life during the festive months, particularly during the arrival of York’s Christmas Market, a firm fixture in the city’s annual calendar.
The York Christmas Market is for those looking to get swept up in the festive feeling. The St. Nicholas Fair transforms Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square into a winter wonderland, in which you will encounter stalls selling all manner of items, from wooden toys to handmade candles and soaps. Not to mention the abundance of food stalls, with the smell of chestnuts in the air, as you are tempted by the wide of festive themed food and drink options.
The party is kept going in King’s Square, where visitors will find a host of exciting activities including a vintage carousel, and Shambles Market and Food Court, a place to sample delicious street from all corners of the world.
Find out more at Visit York
When: 22nd November – 3rd January
The history, the culture, and the architecture found in Edinburgh make it a bucket-list destination, with the city coming to life even more so during the Christmas period.
The Edinburgh Winter Festival makes its annual return towards the end of November, spreading festive cheer throughout the Scottish capital. Hosted in the stunning Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens, there are treats for all, where visitors can sample the very best in mulled wine, local handmade produced gifts, and locally sourced gifts.
Santa Land returns to East Princes Street Gardens, with rides for people of all ages, Castle Street will once again play host to Santa’s Grotto, which will be sure to make your little one’s day. The city also comes to life at night, with a stunning ambience that includes Christmas-themed lights, beautifully lit up streets, and the Night Walk – a unique, multisensory tour of Edinburgh’s past and present.
Find out more at Visit Scotland
When: 8th December – 11th December
The four day Stratford-upon-Avon Victorian Christmas Market returns, perfect for those seeking a blast from the past. An award-winning event, it has grown to become one of the UK’s biggest and most beloved Christmas markets, with a little something for everyone.
Visitors will surely marvel at the 300 plus incredible stalls, ideal if you are on a quest for that unique Christmas gift or just want to soak up the festive ambience. Encounter traders true to Stratford tradition, clad in full Victorian dress, sample vintage street food, and festive drinks in the form of mulled wine and cider, and Baileys hot chocolate.
There is fun galore at the traditional fun fair, which will include a carousel situated at the bottom of Wood Street and on the Rother Street market area. The ambience and atmosphere are enhanced further with a wide range of live music, choirs, dance groups, as well as chimney sweeps and strollers.
Find out more at Stratford.Gov
When: 1st December – 4th December
The action-packed four-day Lincoln Christmas Market once again takes residence in the stunning Cathedral Quarter. Set in and amongst a contemporary cathedral city with over 2,000 years of history, there aren’t many more beautiful places to visit over the festive period than the East Midlands city.
Visitors will be sure to enjoy an array of cultural entertainment as they stroll along the cobbles. 150 stalls are nestled within the medieval square and surrounding area, with hundreds of wooden stalls selling a range of unique artisanal festive gifts, alongside a wide selection of food and drink. Aside from the buzz of the stalls and fairground rides, shops across the city stay open later when the market’s in town too, meaning there’s no rush to get those Christmas presents sorted. Stop by the Lincoln Christmas Maker’s Market too, to browse incredible items produced local artists and craftsmen.
Don’t miss a visit to The Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair, where you will come across all manner of delicious dishes, whilst a fantastic, grand light display is to be found at Christmas at Belton. The Lincoln Christmas Market provides visitors and residents a truly festive experience for all the family, with memories to last a lifetime.
Find out more at Lincoln Christmas Market