With ice rinks, funfairs and other festive delights, here’s our pick of some of the best Christmas markets around the UK for the whole family to enjoy
1. Edinburgh’s Christmas markets
From 18 November to 6 January the Scottish capital comes alive with Christmas cheer and plenty to see and do for the whole family. See Edinburgh in all its festive glory from the top of the Big Wheel or, if you’re brave enough, take a ride on the 60-metre high Star Flyer.
Little ones can swirl around on gentler fairground rides, get lost in the Christmas Tree Maze trying to find the elves’ workshop and meet the man himself at Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens.
There’s also ice skating in St Andrew Square and not just one but three Christmas markets – one selling European gastronomic delights, another specialising in all things Scottish, including locally-brewed beer and seafood, and one that’s dedicated to children.
2. Lincoln’s German and medieval markets
Lincoln’s market might be short – it’s from 7-10 December – but it’s as sweet as the icing on a Christmas cake. Set in a medieval square between the city’s gothic cathedral and around Norman Castle, there are over 280 stalls selling crafts, gifts, food, drink, and more.
There’s a German section, a Medieval section and a Big Wheel and fairground for the children. The four days are also packed with entertainment, from carol singing to a ukulele band.
Smell the mulled wine and the roasted chestnuts as you browse the wooden chalets and soak up the festive atmosphere, and don’t leave without taking a walk around the castle walls for great views of the Christmas Market and the surrounding countryside.
3. Leeds Christkindelmarkt
You don’t have to take the family to Germany to experience a traditional Christkindelmarkt because every year a twinkling Germany Christmas market comes to Millennium Square in Leeds.
Sip on gluhwein and tuck into bratwurst sausages, goulash, soups, schnitzels, stollen, and delicious gingerbread as you browse the chalets draped with fairy lights and selling handcrafted toys, jewellery, gifts and tree decorations.
Treat the kids to a ride on the old-fashioned carousel and afterwards enjoy a German beer (or hot chocolate) at the Alp Chalet Bavarian restaurant. This year, the Christkindelmarkt runs from 10 November to 17 December.
4. Southbank Nordic winter wonderland
London’s Southbank will once again be transformed into a magical Nordic winter wonderland this Christmas.
Head for the giant Christmas tree by the London Eye and then follow the line of wooden cabins along the River Thames, selling sheepskin rugs, decorations, and festive wreaths, and warm yourself with cheese toasties, hot chocolate, mince pies and more.
From 10 November to 4 January there’s a programme of top entertainment including an interactive ABBA exhibition and the captivating Slava’s Snowshow. You can even treat the family to a fondue feast in your own personal snow globe.
5. Worcester’s Victorian street market
Celebrating its 25th year, Worcester's Victorian-themed street market takes the family back in time to the way Christmas used to be. From 30 November to 3 December the city’s historic centre is filled with over 200 stalls.
The stall-owners dress in Victorian costume to sell roasted chestnuts and mulled wine, while local choirs gather to entertain shoppers with carols and street performers juggle while balancing on stilts. There’s a traditional Victorian carousel, too.
6. Liverpool’s German market and Ice Festival
Thrill-seeking families should head to Liverpool this winter for its German market and Ice Festival. It’s home to the UK’s largest ice slide, with three super speedy 30-metre runs promising you an exhilarating ride and views across the city beautifully decked out with colourful Christmas lights.If you’re not quite so daring, the views are also spectacular from the Ferris Wheel.
From 17 November to 7 January, there’s also an ice rink, a waterfront German market with a Bavarian foodcourt, and an Ice Bar with ice sculptures and tables and chairs carved from ice. Alternatively, snuggle into a sofa in the family-friendly Après Lodge.
7. Swansea’s parade and Waterfront Winter Wonderland
Join the fun at Swansea’s festive parade on 19 November when marching bands, floats, giant Christmas inflatables, and dancing elves parade through the city centre before Santa himself switches on the Christmas lights.
The day before the Christmas Market opens on Oxford Street selling crafts, handmade gifts, and unique Christmas decorations until 21 December.
Meanwhile, at the city’s Waterfront Winterland in Museum Park there’s ice skating, Santa’s grotto, family funfair, a 100ft Giant Wheel and festive food until 7 January.