Gifts From Handpicked

A Guide to UK Christmas Markets

Christmas markets are brilliant – the best ones bring together huge amounts of high-quality food from a diverse range of local producers – combine that with a mugful of mulled wine and some appropriate festive music and you’ve a recipe for a hugely enjoyable day out.

Let’s take a look at some of the best in the UK

Salisbury Christmas Market

Salisbury’s annual Christmas market is set to take place in the town’s Guildhall Square for just over three weeks, between the 26th November and the 20th December. This year’s event is set to be even larger than those that have come before, with more than 76 chalets crowded with exhibitors, all eager to be rid of their wares.

It’s free to enter, there’s disabled access and plenty of entertainment. Visitors will find that there are many stores which offer artisan goods of the sort that just aren’t available on the high street. There will be locally-produced items alongside those from the continent. Each of the exhibitors has been chosen according to ‘strict criteria’, and so you can be assured that everything there will be of the utmost quality!

This year they’ll be the obligatory huge, decorated Christmas tree, a nativity scene, and a Grotto on Fisherton Street where youngsters can get their opportunity to meet Father Christmas himself. What more could one ask from a Christmas market?

Chester Christmas Market

The Chester Christmas Market returns again between the 19th November and the 20th December, and will be open every day from 10am. This year, the market is set to be bigger and better than ever before. It’s to take place between a trio of the city’s most striking buildings: the town hall, the library and the famous Cathedral. Like the Salisbury market, the Chester market is free to enter, and boasts a smorgasbord of brilliant locally-produced products, ranging from crafts and jewellery to delicious hot food and drink, including hot chocolate and mulled wine – perfect for fending off that icy winter weather!

Being situated right in the middle of town, there’s no free parking available – though the public transport links between Chester and the surrounding area are excellent, and the abundance of wonderful Christmassy items on offer will more than compensate for it!

Lincoln Christmas Market

Lincoln’s Christmas market was the very first to be revived, thirty years ago. From that starting point, it’s gone from strength to strength. While many of the newer crop of Christmas markets are open for long stretches, this smaller offering on for a mere four days – from Thursday 3rd to Sunday 6th December.

There are set to be around 250 stalls set up in the Medieval Square and the area that surrounds it. The setting is perfect, being placed midway between the city’s hugely impressive cathedral and a castle that dates back from Norman times.

Lincoln is a beautiful city which boasts a picturesque city centre, whose cobblestone streets are just bursting with charm. For just a single weekend, this place is lent a little bit of extra Christmas magic.

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market

Birmingham’s Christmas market has a distinctly German flavour. Every year there are a host of different stalls, each providing a host of different products reflecting the city’s assorted cultures. Visitors are able to enjoy a bratwurst and a glass of mulled wine by the fountain in Victoria square – the heart of the market – before walking around to see what’s on offer on the stalls in the surrounding streets.

The market boasts more than a hundred and eighty stalls, selling everything from artisan jewellery and indoor decorations to exotic cured meats and cheeses. It’s open now, and will be right up until the 22nd December. If you’re in the area, it’s a must-visit!

Manchester Christmas Markets

That ‘s’ there isn’t a typing error – the city of Manchester boasts not just one, but ten different Christmas markets dotted around the town centre. Between them, these different markets boast more than three hundred chalet-style stalls.

Each separate market is themed differently – so that you won’t have to search far and wide for stalls of a certain sort. In this respect, a day out at Manchester’s markets has more in common with a visit to a theme park than it does to a normal day’s shopping; you’ll have fun absorbing the sights, sounds and smells as you wander from market to market, but you’ll also have fun doing so, too!

The choice on offer here is a step above, thanks to the sheer scale of the operation. Visitors will find pancakes from the Netherlands, paella from Spain and profiteroles from France, and they’ll be able to wash all of them down with a selection of beers and wines from across Europe.

As well as food to eat immediately, you’ll also find artisan producers offering their fine foods to store in your fridge and slowly pick at over the Christmas period. These include producers offering cheese, bread and cured meat from all over the continent. What’s more, each of these markets is located within a quarter of a mile of all of the others. This makes getting around as easy as can be – but if you need a hand, then you can easily access a handy map of the area, courtesy of the event’s organisers.

Oxford Christmas Market

This offering is placed in the heart of Oxford’s Broad Street, amidst the city’s legendarily architecture. It’s hard not to have a magical experience in such a setting – and the sounds and smells of the Christmas traders and their wares will make it all the more so.

Alongside the bevvy of market traders offering their handmade gifts, decorations and artisan foodstuffs, there’ll be a procession of different bands and choirs on hand to fill the air with some much-needed musical flair. If you’re in Oxford and the surrounding area, the market is a must-visit.

Edinburgh Christmas Market

The furthest north on our list, the Scottish capital’s offering is filled with all of the things you’d expect from a Christmas market – and a great deal more besides. There’s food, drink and crafts in St. Andrew Square, there’s a selection of gifts that you won’t find elsewhere on offer at the European Market in the Mound Precinct, and at the Children’s market there’s a host of suitable gifts for children on sale.

The festive atmosphere that fills this richly cultural at Christmas time is truly something to be treasured. The streets are jam-packed with things to do, see, hear, smell and buy. On top of all of this, you get a Ferris wheel and an ice rink – making this day out in Edinburgh one not to be missed!

Caerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre

If you’re looking for something a little different this year, then it’s more than worth making the trip to South Wales for this feast of medieval fun. You’ll find several different markets dotted around the town over the course of the weekend of the 12th and 13th December. These include a farmers market, a continental market and a food and crafts fair.

There are hundreds of different traders dotted around the event, between them selling medieval foodstuffs and replica crafts. There will be traditional seasonal music and authentic medieval entertainment in the form of a jester show. As well as this, there will be re-enactment displays, a funfair and some actual reindeers.

There is a fee for admission to Caerphilly castle, but entry to everything else is free. This among the briefest market events on the Christmas calendar, so make sure you make the trip to see it while you can!

Winchester Christmas Market and Ice Rink

Residents of the south coast have access to an amazing market in the form of this offering, in the centre of Winchester. This is a city which has claimed to be the capital of Christmas in England. That’s a lot to live up to, but this Christmas market, now in its tenth year, surely does all that’s possible to justify such heady billing.

In a short time, Winchester’s Christmas market has proven immensely popular. It routinely attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, and is widely considered among the best Christmas markets in the country. It boasts hundreds of different wooden chalets, each chosen according to the quality of goods on offer. The result is a wide and varied selection, including handmade British artisan goods, and exotic treats brought in from further afield.

At night-time, the city becomes especially beautiful. The city’s rich history is evidenced in its medieval architecture, particularly that of its cathedral, which is lit up in beautiful orange. Over the Christmas period, it plays host a number of carol services and concerts, and so is well worth a visit for those making the trip to the Christmas market. On top of all of that, visitors will be able to enjoy the amazing floodlit ice rink – what more could one ask for?

The Market itself runs between the 19th November and the 22nd December, while the Ice Rink is open right up until January 3rd. If you’re on the South coast, you’d be mad to miss it!