Celebrate the magic of the festive season with a trip to a Christmas market, at home or on a short break abroad
Take the chance to browse market stalls for handmade and unique presents, warm up with traditional food and drink and explore a new city.
It’s the perfect time to wander round the prettily lit and scented markets in the UK or further afield. Browsing for handmade Christmas presents, drinking mulled wine and eating festive food – what could be better?
28 November – 15 December
Each year Bath Christmas Market transforms the city into a shopper’s paradise, as 150 chalets – packed with Christmas goodies and predominantly run by local businesses – line the picturesque streets surrounding the Roman baths and Bath Abbey.
The market exudes a more romantic atmosphere than some, and attracts thousands of visitors from across the UK. Take a break from shopping to enjoy a beer or mulled wine at the pop-up Lodge, or visit the Abbey for a Christmas carol service. And, with an ice rink nearby, there’s plenty to keep little ones happy too.
16 November - 4 January
There's entertainment for all ages and interests in Edinburgh's Christmas markets this year, with a Santa Fun Run, numerous fairground rides and the Forth1 Big Wheel, alongside the traditional Christmas market.
There's also a Christmas tree maze, raising funds for the city's green spaces, a collection of stained glass Winter Windows designed by school pupils, and even a couple of Baby Loves Disco family dance sessions. And in the real-life Advent Calendar you can explore a different Edinburgh location each day from 1-24 December.
Other ways you can make the most of Christmas
The Leeds Christkindelmarkt
8 November – 21 December
This year will again see Millennium Square in Leeds giving a German winter welcome as it’s turned into the Leeds Christkindelmarkt. You can do your Christmas shopping and enjoy some food while browsing the wooden chalet stalls that are overflowing with crafts, gifts and famous German fare.
There’s also a daily programme of music and children’s shows, including joining Santa for a weekend breakfast. You can enjoy food, drink and winter ambience in the Ski Hutte bar, Alp Chalet restaurant and cosy ‘Kuh Stall’, complete with its real log fire.
London's Winter Wonderland
22 November – 5 January
Massive family favourite Winter Wonderland returns to London's Hyde Park with a host of Christmas-themed fun and activities, including big-top shows, rides and huge Christmas market.
The market is full of arts and crafts, jewellery and trinkets, and the Angels and Yuletide section, with wooden chalets overflowing with festive goods, is particularly charming. Or have a go on the UK’s largest open-air ice rink. The market is free to enter so you can walk around at your leisure and soak up the atmosphere and Santa is free to meet too. New for 2019 are a giant wheel and shows including Paddington On Ice.
8 November – 22 December
No Mancunian winter is complete without a wander through the chalet-lined streets of Manchester's nine distinct Christmas markets, all within roughly a quarter of a mile of each other and easily accessible. European and local producers offer everything from fine jewellery, handcrafted leather bags to delicious food across hundreds of stalls.
Each market has its own distinct character and atmosphere, with the Ice Village having a mythical theme, complete with an ice slide and ice tiki bar. Bars are open until 9pm on all sites so you can soak up the atmosphere of an international event with a uniquely Mancunian flavour.
Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market
7 November – 23 December
Birmingham’s Christmas market is the largest of its kind outside Germany and Austria. Explore stalls selling gifts, jewellery, decorations, handmade toys, delicious German fare and the ever-popular Glühwein, before heading to the carousel and joining in with the market’s famous singing moose. You can also enjoy some live music while you’re browsing the market stalls and indulging in some bratwurst.
27 November – 23 December
Dating back to 1692, the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is one of Germany’s best-known Christmas markets, and attracts more than 3.5 million visitors every year wishing to get into the Christmas spirit. The 300 or so stalls boast a diverse range of goods – including arts and crafts and culinary delicacies from all over the world.
Daily live concerts, a children’s fairy-tale land with nostalgic carousels, a real mini steam engine and a children’s bakery and candle workshop as well as the antique market on Karlsplatz square make this market something special.
Prague’s classic Christmas
23 November – 6 January
The Prague Christmas markets are the most impressive in a country that takes great pride in its festive celebrations. As well as markets in the city’s castle, Havel’s Market and on Kampa Island, the main attractions are at Old Town and Wenceslas squares.
You can browse the hundreds of huts selling traditional crafts, while the little ones can pet sheep, goats and a donkey and see Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the Three Kings in a stable. If you can, attend one of the city’s many churches for an evening classical concert.
8 November – 29 December
Visitors to Budapest will find fairy lights on every tree and lamp post, and 100 cottage-style wooden stalls in the main Budapest Christmas market in Vorosmarty Square. It’s a charming plaza in the heart of the city at the end of Váci Utca, in front of the prestigious Gerbeaud Coffee House with a laser show projection, and two outdoor stages with free concerts ensure the ambience is buzzing.
Sweet Hungarian pastries, fur hats and gloves, traditional gifts and handmade chocolates and honey cakes rub shoulders with ironwork and jewellery items. Eat cinnamon-pastry chimney cakes (kürtőskalács) and töki pompos, a Hungarian-style pizza topped with bacon, onion and cream. And make sure you have a glass of Hungarian sparkling wine in Varosliget Café, which overlooks the ice rink.
22 November – 30 December
One of the first Christmas markets in Europe took place in Strasbourg in 1570, called the Strasbourg ‘Christkindelsmärik’ (market of the infant Jesus). Ever since, Strasbourg has continued the tradition, and is considered by many to be the best Christmas Market in Europe. During advent, the capital of Alsace is even more magical.
Half-timbered houses are garlanded with giant red-and-white hearts, stars, angels and snowflakes; and the cobbled streets and towering fir tree on the Place Kléber means it gets top marks for olde-worlde charm.
Innsbruck's romantic markets
15 November – 6 January
There are six different Innsbruck Christmas markets around the city, with the most romantic is in the Altstadt (old town). Listen to trumpeters play carols by the 500-year-old Golden Roof as you walk the stalls and enjoy Austrian food and cups of warm mulled wine. You can also ride the funicular up Nordkette mountain to Hungerburg Market and enjoy the festive view.
Antwerp's magical markets
7 December – 5 January
Stretching from Groenplaats to the handsome central square, Antwerp’s Christmas market has nearly 100 stalls selling handcrafted decorations and gifts, local delicacies and clothes and accessories by local designers from its vibrant fashion scene.
Enjoy a hot chocolate or some Belgian winter dishes and listen to festive music, try your luck on the ice rink and stroll through the cobbled streets of this enchanting port city. As you shop, admire the city's historic buildings lit by the festive lights that run all the way from the central station to the docks of the river Scheldt.
Berlin's festive celebrations
25 November – 6 January
From the end of November the city is transformed into one big festive celebration, with not just one Berlin Christmas market but over 70 altogether. Not to be missed is the Winter Wonderland in Potsdamer Platz, where you can browse the colourful market stalls, circle the ice-rink, speed down Europe's largest toboggan run and dance the night away to live DJs at the ‘après-ski’ parties.
Meanwhile, Berliner Weihnachtszeit am Roten Rathaus is a charming market with an ice rink and a Ferris wheel with fabulous views of the magically lit city. The largest market is in the Spandau old town, where at weekends you can finish off your day's shopping with a rock ’n’ roll concert or karaoke session.
Bruges’ traditional market
22 November – 5 January
Take in the smell of warm, fresh waffles as you wind your way around the rows of little wooden chalets at the Bruges Christmas market. With twinkling fairy lights reflected in the canals, Christmas trees and street performers providing family entertainment, it's the time of year when the city is at its most magical.
Treat your loved ones to some beautifully packaged Belgian chocolates, brightly coloured sweets and homemade gifts, take a twirl on the ice-rink, and then hop on to a horse-drawn carriage for the ultimate festive experience.
Copenhagen’s fairy-tale Christmas
16 November – 5 January
Take the family to Copenhagen’s Christmas market in Tivoli Gardens. Little ones and grown-ups will enjoy the thrills of 27 fun rides, illuminations on the lake, a steam train, Santa's grotto complete with reindeer, and dozens of stalls selling locally made decorations, gifts and jewellery.
In true Nordic style, the city is transformed into a fairy-tale Christmas celebration, with decorated wooden houses, snow-covered trees and Christmas lights. Another of the city's markets, in Kongens Nytorv Square is devoted to the works of Denmark's famous storyteller Hans Christian Andersen – each stall is named after one of his fairy tales.
Maastricht’s mistletoe and music
29 November – 31 December
Take in the delights of magical Maastricht’s Christmas markets, when this Dutch city is lit up from its historic centre and across the river. Follow the Magical Light Route around the city see to see all the best Maastricht has to offer, with the enchanting Jeker and Stokstraat quarters allowing you to shop, eat, drink and be merry.
For a bird's-eye view of the lights and the ice rink, hop aboard the Ferris wheel in Vrijthof Square. There's a full entertainment programme, too, with different theatre, dance and music performances at various cultural hotspots across the city.