Picture the scene - snow-coated cabins and Christmas fir trees dotted around Alpine villages as familiar aromas of bratwursts and glühwein fill the air. This is the Bavarian Christmas every shopper with a case of wanderlust dreams of around this time of year... and with our pick of Christmas markets here in the UK, you needn't leave the country to soak up the festive atmosphere. From Edinburgh's St Andrews Square to Birmingham's 'Frankfurt' market or Cardiff's Winter Wonderland, there is a plethora of festive markets right here on your doorstep for you to enjoy. We've rounded up 11 of the best Christmas markets in the UK…
1. Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas market
Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas market is the largest outdoor festive market in the United Kingdom and the biggest German market outside Germany and Austria, so you don't need to venture out of the country to treat yourself to traditional German cuisine and drink. Sip on glühwein, weissbeer, mulled cider, or tasty hot chocolate as you soak up the bustling atmosphere of the small village in the heart of the city. The market has run in the city every year since 2001, and become a firm favourite with both residents and visitors from all over the UK and Europe. It will open in Birmingham City Centre on 15 November and runs until 23 December. The market is open from 10am to 9pm each day. Get more details at thebcfm.co.uk.
2. Christmas market Swansea
The market runs all the way through until 20 December with the traditional red and green chalets open daily offering an array of unique gifts, decorations, food and drink. As well as the stalls, you'll find a Christmas bar where you can relax with some mulled wine. You'll also find Santa's Grotto nearby on Portland Street, while an ice rink and funfair are also within walking distance – a must for a fun family day out. Plan your visit at swanseachristmas.com.
3. Edinburgh Christmas Market
Located in the heart of Edinburgh, Edinburgh's Christmas market runs from 17 November until 5 January 2019, with doors open up to 10pm for late-night shopping. With over 100 stalls it’s the perfect place to buy your Christmas gifts, thanks to its unique offering of arts, crafts, decorations and culinary delights. Make a day out of it and visit some of the other nearby attractions, such as the Forth 1 Big Wheel. See more information at edinburghschristmas.com.
4. Belfast Christmas Market
The Belfast Christmas Market runs from 17 November until 22 December 2018 at the Belfast City Hall offering not only gifts but a huge feast of food stalls too. This year the market features over 100 chalets with offerings from across the continent, such as Belgian chocolates, French crepes and specialty cheeses. Arts and crafts are in abundance here so if you are looking to buy some homeware for Christmas there’s plenty of hand-painted pottery. Get the lowdown at visitbelfast.com.
5. Liverpool Christmas market
With mulled wine and hot chocolate flowing, the Liverpool Christmas market will return to St George's Plateau in mid-November. You’ll find over 40 traditional festive style cabins dressed in garlands and warm lighting to create a magical Christmas ambiance. If you are after last-minute Christmas gifts, there are lots of handmade jewellery, slippers, scarves and homeware stalls. There’s typically plenty of fun for the kids too with a super-sized triple-lane ice slide, ice rink and ferris wheel.
6. Leeds' German Christmas Market
Christkindelmarkt is Leeds' German Christmas market, which transforms the city's Millennium, Square into a scenic winter village, complete with over 40 traditional wooden chalet stalls, themed indoor venues and a traditional Christmas carousel ride. Promising fun for all the family, you'll find stalls for Christmas shopping, the Bavarian-style eatery Alp Chalet, and free weekly children's shows each Sunday morning, along with face painting, interactive games and balloon modelling. The market opens on 9 November until 22 December. Get more info at whatson.leeds.gov.uk.
7. Borough London market
Christmas at Borough Market will run throughout December, with extended opening hours meaning it is open daily from 5 December. With local choirs entertaining visitors there is a real Christmas vibe. As one of London's most vibrant markets, you'll find lots of festive treats for the family including stalls selling home-made gifts, food demonstration pop-ups and plenty of mulled wine and snacks on offer. If you are looking for fresh produce to bring home for the Christmas table you will find a huge variety of stalls selling different cheeses, wine, vegetables, fish and meat. See more at boroughmarket.org.uk.
8. Bath Christmas market
With over 180 wooden chalets lining the cobbled streets of the city centre, if you're looking for an original gift for a loved one this Christmas - you're certain to find it in Bath's Christmas market. In one of the oldest cities in the country, you can even transport yourself back in time by taking a trip on Victorian Carousel or a dip in the Roman baths overlooking the stunning Abbey. The market has had an eco-friendly update for 2018, so you can expect to see decorations made using recycled plastic bags and bottles around the city. The Bath Christmas market will open from 22 November until 9 December. Get more info at bathchristmasmarket.co.uk.
9. Cardiff Christmas market
Cardiff's Christmas market will be even bigger for 2018, with a range of new exhibitors joining the line-up of stalls selling a diverse range of high quality, original and handmade products. The stalls cover everything from ceramics to beauty to jewellery, making it a great spot to do your Christmas shopping. There are several food and drink stalls too, so you can make a full day of it. Opens 15 November until 23 December, get more details at cardiffchristmasmarket.com.
10. Nottingham Winter Wonderland
Each year Nottingham transforms into a traditional Christmas card scene complete with an ice rink, Christmas trees and snow-topped log cabins. The Winter Wonderland returns to the city on 15 November, with over 70 specialist stalls at its festive market, many of which are locally based and offer something for everyone including artisan cheeses, jewellery, fashion and Christmas decorations to name just a few. With a number of bars, eateries and entertainment in and around the city, it's sure to get you in the festive spirit. Plan your visit at nottinghamwinterwonderland.com.
11. Manchester's Christmas Markets
With more than 300 beautiful stalls and chalets across the city centre, you can easily fill a day at Manchester's Christmas markets. And while you may want to enjoy traditional German bratwurst and beers, visitors can also treat themselves to everything from Hungarian goulash to Spanish paella with food from across the continent. The Christmas markets will run from 9 November to 22 December, see more details at visitmanchester.com.
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