To help you get into the holiday spirit, we’ve drawn up a shortlist of the five best Christmas markets in the UK for 2019. These markets have something for the entire family – rides for the kids, quaint shops and indulgent food stalls. Here are our top five -
- Manchester Christmas Market
- Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market
- Bath Christmas Market
- York Christmas Market
- Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market
Read on to find out what festive treats await at these great UK Christmas markets and how to get there by train. Avoid the nightmare of city-centre parking and travel by rail!
1. Manchester Christmas Market
Manchester will have Christmas Markets popping up throughout the city centre during the festive period. A whopping 300 wooden chalets selling food, drink and gifts will be spread across ten locations. The main market is on Albert Square, opposite the town hall. There'll be food stalls, bars and a giant illuminated Santa Claus watching over proceedings.
Visit Cathedral Gardens market for funfair rides, an ice rink and, of course, mulled gin for the adults! Next, head to St. Ann’s Square for some of the best glühwein in the city. Then wander on to King Street, where you’ll find delicious French and Italian produce like delicious cheese, cured meats and macarons.
Dates: Friday 8th November – Saturday 21st December 2019 (22nd December for Albert Square)
Location: Various locations across Manchester. Check Visit Manchester for more information.
Getting there: Manchester’s main station, Manchester Piccadilly, is around 18 minutes away on foot from Albert Square. If you don’t fancy the walk, hop on the Metrolink tram (Blue or Purple line) and get off at St Peter’s Square. The fast train from London Euston takes just over two hours to reach Manchester Piccadilly. Alternatively, Oxford Road station is closer to Albert Square, just 12 minutes on foot – however you’re unlikely to be arriving into Oxford Road unless you’re coming from the North.
2. Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market
As you might have guessed from the name, the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market brings German-inspired festivities to the Midlands. In fact, Birmingham is twinned with Frankfurt, so the market welcomes several authentic German stalls. It’s the largest authentic Christmas market outside of Austria and Germany - not to be missed!
There'll be 80 stalls this year, stretching across New Street, Centenary Square and Victoria Square in central Birmingham. Have a browse through the huge range of artisanal gifts on offer – hand-carved toys, Christmas decorations, soaps and candles. Or, indulge in traditional German bratwurst, beer and pretzels. For the kids, the ice rink and Ferris wheel are back by popular demand, conveniently located on Centenary Square. These will stay open until 12th January 2020.
Dates: Thursday 7th November – Monday 23rd December 2019
Location: Various locations across Birmingham.
Getting there: Birmingham New Street station is a stone’s throw from the German Market, just five minutes on foot. The fast train from London Euston to New Street takes 1h 22m. The slower trains from Marylebone arrive into Birmingham Moor Street, which is a 12-minute walk from the Market.
3. Bath Christmas Market
Bath’s Christmas Market more than captures the festive spirit. Over 150 stalls will open in the middle of town, centred around Abbey Churchyard and the Roman Baths. Bath Street, Abbeygate Street, York Street and Union Street will all be lined with pretty wooden chalets. The market has proved so popular in recent years that it was extended to include even more food options on Milson Street – including raclette-covered jacked potatoes (yum!), roasted chestnuts and hog roasts. Over 80% of the stalls at the market belong to Bath and the South West, so you’ll be supporting home-grown produce from small businesses.
There's loads to do at Bath Christmas Market besides stuff yourself silly with food. The Bath on Ice skating rink returns to Royal Victoria Park, as does an 18-hole glow-in-the-dark mini-golf course! You can also catch a pantomime performance at the Theatre Royal or visit Santa’s Grotto at Milsom Place.
Dates: Thursday 28th November – Sunday 15th December 2019
Location: Abbey Churchyard, Bath, BA1 1LZ
Getting there: Hop on a train to Bath Spa – the city’s main railway station. The Christmas market is just an eight-minute walk away. Trains from London Paddington take around an hour and a half to reach Bath Spa, while from Bristol Temple Meads it’s a mere 15-minute journey. As you might’ve guessed, we’re quite big on trains, so we get rather excited by the fact that you can also travel to the Bath Christmas Market on a vintage steam locomotive! On Sunday 1st December only, a working 61306 Mayflower departs from London Paddington for Bath, via Slough and Reading. Tickets start at £109 – check out Steam Dreams for more information.
4. York Christmas Market
If you think York is pretty, wait until you see it at winter time! York Christmas Market - also known as St Nicholas Fair - welcomed over one million visitors last year and returns this winter to bring some festive cheer to York’s quaint medieval streets. The main attraction will be on Parliament Street, where most chalets selling artisanal gifts and food will be located. However, there are events taking place all over the city; from the Yuletide Village at the Shambles to the live carol performances at St Sampson’s Square and festive mini golf at the Spark:York communal space.
The city’s Viking heritage brings a distinctly Scandinavian twist to the Christmas market. Nestled between the chalets on Parliament Street you’ll find Thor’s Tipi, a Viking-themed bar with a roaring fire, hot chocolate and mulled cider. Shelter inside or enjoy a drink alfresco among the Christmas trees in the heated winter garden. And we can’t help but mention another heritage train experience, the Northern Lights Express. This steam train journey begins at nightfall at Pickering Station in North Yorkshire, where you’ll board a classic NYMR steam train decked out with thousands of Christmas lights. You’ll wind through a twinkling forest before arriving at Levisham station in time for a light show. Book a spot on the Northern Lights Express on NYMR’s website.
Dates: Thursday 14th November – Sunday 22nd December 2019
Location: Parliament Street, York, YO1 8SG
Getting there: York station is the city’s principal railway station. The Christmas market is a 13-minute walk from the station. Walk through Memorial Gardens and cross the River Ouse on Station Road. The super-fast Azuma train from London Kings Cross reaches York in under two hours.
5. Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market
The final market, but by no means least - is Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market. The Christmas market is held on Winchester Cathedral’s historic Close, nestled among the Cathedral’s illuminated arches and towering spires. Wander through the market’s quaint wooden chalets, each selling unique handicrafts and traditional winter treats like mulled wine, mince pies and German stollen. You’ll find other food options at the Cathedral Refectory - there's something for every palette.
The centrepiece of the market is a covered ice rink, complete with a decorated Christmas tree in the middle. It stays open until Sunday 5th January 2020, while the Christmas market closes on the last Sunday before Christmas Day. Winchester is certainly one of our favourite Christmas markets on this list.
Dates: Thursday 21st November – Sunday 22nd December 2019
Location: 9 The Close, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9LS
Getting there: Catch a train to Winchester railway station and take a 12-minute walk to the Christmas market, or a 10-minute bus. Winchester is served by CrossCountry and South Western Railway trains. Direct services from London Waterloo take under an hour to reach Winchester.