The Most Festive Christmas Markets in England
You won't get more Christmassy Christmas markets than these.
It’s that time of year again – Christmas is here. And what better way to celebrate than with a trip to a festive market? They have shopping, deliciously seasonal foods and of course, lots and lots of mulled wine. Whether you’re after a traditional Christmas or one with a bit more modern sparkle, our pick of the top Christmas markets in England are sure to get you into the yuletide spirit. And of course, once you’ve had your fill of mince pies you can retire to your luxurious Plum Guide home to sleep off the brandy butter in absolute peace.
Bath's Christmas market is one of the most popular in the country, which isn't surprising when you consider how beautiful of a city Bath is. When it’s all lit up for Christmas, it makes your heart swell with joy (or perhaps that could just be the festive bratwurst you’ve just inhaled).
This Christmas market is located right by the 16th century abbey and the famous Roman baths. Don’t forget your camera, because the second you catch sight of the lights, you’ll want to take a photo to remember the moment.
150 chalets here stock everything from jewellery made by local artisans to Somerset cheese, homemade preserves and jams plus of course all of your Christmas standards of cards, cookies and enough baubles to decorate a thousands Christmas trees.
Are you old school? A little fussy, but only because you know that your way works the best? Prone to planning your Christmas day around watching the Queen’s speech every year? If so, York Christmas market is the one for you. Both the city of York and the market itself are classically British – you’ll feel full of the Christmas spirit just looking at the stalls.
A lot of what makes this market so great is the care with which the stallholders are sourced. Many of the stalls are run by local artisans such as brewers, confectioners and crafters, making this the ideal spot to shop for presents for hard-to-buy-for relatives. If choosing Great Aunt Mabel’s gift proves just that bit too challenging, head to the stall selling toffee vodka to help some of the stress fade away.
Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire
While this is definitely one of the best Christmas markets in England, it does take some planning ahead. The market at Blenheim Palace shuts in mid-December as opposed to right before Christmas, so be sure to book your ticketed slot well in advance. It’s worth the trouble, however.
The already impressive Blenheim Palace puts on its Christmas best in the wintertime, and the market benefits hugely from the thoughtfully spaced out layout. Stalls here are top notch and carefully chosen, so expect charming stationary, handmade gifts and leather accessories that your in-laws will adore. Plus, of course, there’s a selection of mouth-watering street food for when you’re three mulled wines in and get a bit peckish.
What makes Bristol's offering one of the best Christmas markets in England is that, much like the university, it seamlessly blends into the city itself. Found in the centre of Cabot Circus, the market meanders its way through the town centre, with a new surprise around every corner. You never know when you might turn down a street and find the gingerbread stall of your dreams.
The festive atmosphere is furthered by the enormous tree laden with ornaments, plus frequent appearances from Santa himself. If you fancy a bevvie, there are many bars selling delicious cocktails, mulled wine and – as it’s Bristol – cider.
While you’re in Bristol it would be a shame not to explore the rest of the city, which looks particularly lovely at Christmas. The famous suspension bridge is dressed up with lights all year round, but one can’t help but feel when looking at it that it’s been done especially for the season.
The Southbank Centre, London
London at Christmas is a rightfully famous attraction. With streets bustling with shoppers, delicious smells wafting from every restaurant and twinkling lights a-plenty, there’s no doubt that London is the place to be in December. The Southbank in particular is great at this time of year, with its many street food stalls, buskers, stalls of second hand books and excellent museums. The Christmas market gives it that extra special hint of sparkle. With the Thames in the background and the dramatic Brutalist Southbank structures looming gently behind, The Southbank Centre Christmas market is truly a great place to spend an afternoon. Sip a hot chocolate while watching the river go by and people crossing the bridges nearby, and take in the seasonal atmosphere.