Picture the scene - snow-coated cabins and twinkling trees dotted around Alpine villages as familiar aromas of bratwursts and mulled wine fills the air. This is the Bavarian Christmas experience every shopper with a case of wanderlust dreams of around this time of year.
SEE: 20 best things to do in festive London in December
With our pick of Christmas markets here in the UK, you needn't leave the country to soak up the festive atmosphere. From Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland to Leeds' Christkindelmarkt or Edinburgh's St Andrews Square, discover the best festive markets right here on your doorstep to enjoy this year.
Scroll on to discover some of the best Christmas markets in the UK…
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Best Christmas markets in the UK 2021
1. Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland
Credit: Instagram/Winter Wonderland
One of London’s most popular parks will transform into a magical Winter Wonderland yet again this Christmas. From 21 November to 5 January, guests can expect the usual attractions of skating on the open-air ice rink, laughing in the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club and strolling through over 100 fairy-lit Bavarian style wooden chalets. The event will also offer the world’s tallest transportable Observation Wheel, A Christmas Carol theme at the Magical Ice Kingdom and a new programme of comics at the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club.
Dates: 19 November - 3 January
For more information visit hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
2. Oxford Christmas market
Credit: Instagram/Oxford Christmas Market
The city's historic Broad Street will be bursting with festive spirit this December, from twinkling lights to choirs singing Christmas carols and handmade gifts. Set against the backdrop of Oxford's spires, it's the perfect place to start your Christmas shopping.
Dates: 9 - 19 December
For more information visit oxfordchristmasmarket.co.uk
3. Frankfurt Christmas market, Birmingham
Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas market is the largest German market outside Germany and Austria, so you don't need to venture out of the country to treat yourself to festive 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 4 November and runs until 23 December. The market is open from 10am to 9pm each day.
Dates: 4 November - 23 December
For more information visit thebfcm.co.uk
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4. Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas market
Offering over 100 chalets surrounding an open-air real ice rink, Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market will be home to a number of exhibitors offering Christmas gifts, decorations and festive foods. Inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, it will bring European indulgent foods and hand-crafted decorations to your doorstep between 19 November and 22 December. From stollen to textile artists and even a nativity scene, there's no better place to get in the festive spirit.
Dates: 19 November - 22 December
For more information visit winchester-cathedral.org.uk
5. Edinburgh Christmas market
Soak up the festive atmosphere at Edinburgh's Christmas market until 4 January. Located in the heart of the city, over 100 stalls offer 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.
Dates: 20 November - 4 January
For more information visit edinburghschristmas.com
6. Swansea Christmas market
Credit: Instagram/Swansea City Centre
The market runs all the way through until 22 December with the traditional red and green chalets open daily offering an array of unique gifts, intricate handcrafted glass and ceramics, homemade chocolates, decorations and delicious 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.
Dates: 26 November - 21 December
For more information visit swanseachristmas.com
7. Belfast Christmas market
The Belfast Christmas Market runs from 20 November until 23 December at the Belfast City Hall offering not only gifts but a huge feast of food stalls too. This year the market features over 30 international traders offering incredible foods from across the continent, such as Belgian chocolates, French crepes and Dutch pancakes. Whether you want to buy some hand-painted pottery for Christmas, take a ride on the vintage carousel or sip on mulled cider, there's something for everyone.
Dates: 20 November - 23 December
For more information visit visitbelfast.com
8. 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 an array of traditional festive style cabins dressed in garlands and warm lighting to create a magical Christmas ambience. Step inside the Gin Tin for a festive tipple, try out the karaoke cable cars at the Ski Lodge or try a Yorkshire Pudding Wrap. Shop for Christmas gifts such as handmade jewellery, slippers, scarves and homeware stalls, while the kids enjoy plenty of vintage fairground rides.
Dates: 12 November - 23 December
For more information visit stgeorgeshallliverpool.co.uk
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9. Christmas by the River, London Bridge
Christmas has officially arrived in London Bridge City, and Christmas by the River is one of the capital's best places to soak up the festive spirit and indulge in the magic this season. The perfect place to wrap up warm and stroll with your loved ones, this free festive market features everything from indulgent crepes doused in Nutella, to hearty bratwurst and festive treats, all washed down with a comforting cup of mulled wine.
Delight in a mix of homeware gifts from To Home from London selling London souvenirs, Christmas Wishes which stock German Christmas decorations, Xmas Castle which sells personalised decorations and Sweyn Forkbeard who sells grooming essentials inspired by the Vikings - and much more.
And for the ultimate post-work festive pick-me-up, The Riverside Lodge bar will also have alpine themed lodges which are fully heated and can be pre-booked in advance to entertain you and your friends. Kick back and watch Christmas themed films or dance the night away to live DJs throughout the week.
Dates: 16 November - 2 January
For more information visit londonbridgecity.co.uk
10. London's Borough market
Christmas at Borough Market will run every day from 4 December to cater for those panic-stricken last-minute shoppers. With the sound of bells and Christmas carols in the background 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.
Dates: 4 December - 1 January
For more information visit boroughmarket.org.uk
11. Bath Christmas market
With over 150 wooden chalets lining the cobbled streets of the city centre, Bath's Christmas market is the perfect place to find an original gift for a loved one this Christmas. If you're all shopped out, try your hand at festive wreath-making before admiring the city’s Christmas decorations at Thermae Bath Spa.
Dates: 25 November - 19 December
For more information visit bathchristmasmarket.co.uk
12. Manchester Christmas market
With more than 300 beautiful stalls and chalets dotted 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. Running throughout December, the Christmas markets will also offer amber jewellery, handmade Belgian kitchenware and French soaps.
Dates: 12 November - 22 December
For more information visit visitmanchester.com
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13. Cardiff Christmas market
Cardiff's 2019 Christmas market will bring together over 200 exhibitors in 85 stalls selling a diverse range of high quality, original and handmade products. The stalls cover everything from ceramics to beauty and even leatherwork, 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.
Dates: 12 November - 23 December
For more information visit cardiffchristmasmarket.com
14. Nottingham Winter Wonderland
Each year Nottingham transforms into a traditional Christmas card scene complete with an ice rink, Christmas trees and an ice bar. The free 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.
Dates: 15 November - 31 December
For more information visit nottinghamwinterwonderland.com
15. Somerset Magical Light at Marston Park and Fondue Dining Experience
While it might not be a Christmas market, Bruce Munro's magical new light exhibition at Marston Park in Somerset, is not to be missed.
Meander through the outdoor trail sipping a hot chocolate or mulled wine as you take in the large-scale, experiential light display featuring thousands of coloured spheres on stems, which are 'planted' along the lakeside path and through the woodland. The magical experience is perfect for adults and children and it's sure to get you into the festive spirit. You can take your pick of seasonal food and drinks at the covered lakeside bar, The Terrace or indulge in a sensational fondue spread in a private and dining tent complete for an extra special experience.
Dates: From 19 November - April 2022
For more information visit marstonpark.co.uk/light