The Best Christmas Markets in the UK

Mulled wine, sweet treats, handmade gifts and a warm, fuzzy festive glow: is there anything better than Christmas markets?

Avanti train blog author avanti team

Written by Will from our web team

4 mins read | 5 October 2023

A trip to a Christmas market by train is the perfect adventure. Hop on a train to the city of your choice - maybe one you’ve never visited before - then spend the day exploring the city followed by bratwurst and glühwein to warm up.

The only choice is: which market to visit? Let’s take a look at some of the best Christmas markets the UK has to offer.

Christmas markets in Birmingham 

Established in 1997, the Birmingham Christmas Market has grown into a beloved tradition. It is now recognised as one of the largest authentic German Christmas markets outside of Germany and Austria.

Birmingham Christmas Market
The Birmingham Christmas Market is located just a five-minute walk from Birmingham New Street Station. It offers convenient rail connections from many of the UK's largest cities, including London Euston in as quick as 1 hour 16 minutes.

Indulging in festive food is a key part of the Christmas market experience. Expect classic German offerings, such as bratwurst sausages and warm glühwein.

The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is a major attraction for both locals and visitors. Here, you can shop from over 150 stalls, finding unique gifts like handcrafted ornaments and artisanal soaps. 

You can enjoy city-wide sights on the Ferris wheel, which look especially magical as the lights begin to glow at dusk. The markets also offer the chance for kids to meet Santa Claus. He always visits so that they can share their Christmas list and snap a photo.

To find out more about the Birmingham Christmas Market and how to get there by train, you can visit our dedicated page

Christmas markets in Liverpool

Liverpool is bursting with creativity and culture, and the city comes alive during the festive season with a huge range of events to suit every age. Skate to your heart’s content at the Christmas Ice Festival, take the perfect selfie by the 16-foot tall Christmas tree in Williamson Square, or don your running shoes and Santa suit for the 5k Santa Dash.

One of the highlights of Liverpool’s Christmas events calendar, though, is the market.

Liverpool Christmas tree

The Christmas market takes place in St John’s Gardens and the area around St George’s Hall. It's prime location, just over the road from Liverpool Lime Street, ensures convenient access to the festivities via train.

If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift, you’ll love browsing the stalls stacked high with personalised decorations, glass baubles, jewellery and keepsakes. For the adventurous, take a trip on the big wheel to get an incredible panoramic view of the city, or try out the giant Bavarian snow slide.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite with all that adventure, grab a bite to eat from one of the many food traders. Choose from old favourites like the Yorkshire pudding wrap or a German sausage, or hit the vegan stall for something a little different. There’s also a variety of festive bars decorated with twinkly lights, including the Alpine Lodge with karaoke cable cars so you can practice belting out your favourite Christmas tunes.

Liverpool has a whole host of festive activities not to miss, so once you’ve explored the markets, get set for a weekend of adventuring. We’ve partnered with Marketing Liverpool and London Northwestern Railway to highlight things to do in Liverpool this Christmas.

Visit out dedicated page to find out more about the Liverpool Christmas Market and how to get there by train.

Christmas markets in Manchester

The biggest city in the north of England, Manchester also offers one of the biggest Christmas markets. The main attraction is the family-friendly Winter Gardens, held in Piccadilly Gardens which is less than a 10-minute walk from Piccadilly Station.

Christmas markets image - manchester

The Winter Gardens are packed full of stalls offering locally-brewed beers, warming mulled wine and delicious food as well as sellers selling their crafts. There’s a covered marquee to keep you dry in case of typical Manchester weather, so you can hang out all evening sampling all the treats the different stalls have to offer. For the first time this year, there’s also a stage with live music and DJs to get you in the party mood.

As well as the Winter Gardens, there are another six markets across the city, each offering something slightly different. You can check this map for their locations of the markets to help you plan your trip. Don’t miss the market at Cathedral Gardens, where you’ll find Skate Manchester’s ice rink - the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy!

To find out more about Manchester Christmas Market, visit our dedicated page.

Christmas markets in Chester

Picturesque Chester comes alive during the festive period, with its period buildings adorned with twinkling lights and a dusting of snow to finish off the scene. If you want to feel the magic this Christmas, head to the market at Chester. It takes place in the city’s Town Hall Square opposite the beautiful Chester Cathedral, roughly a 15-minute walk from Chester Station.

Christmas in Chester

The market features traditional wooden chalets from which you’ll find a whole host of Chester’s finest shops and small businesses selling unique, locally-made food products, handmade crafts, jewellery, accessories and stocking fillers. From candles to cheese, it’s the perfect place to find a unique gift for those hard-to-buy-for friends and family.

If you’re visiting the city with kids, don’t miss Santa’s Enchanted Grotto at the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, just a few minutes away from the Christmas market. The grotto features a whimsical walk through a winter woodland to Santa’s Grotto where they’ll have the opportunity to talk to the big guy himself and tell him everything on their Christmas list.

While you’re in Chester this Christmas, look out for the roving moon that will be hopping between the beautiful buildings and win prizes with Visit Chester by sharing your pictures online.

Visit our dedicated page to find out more about Chester Christmas Market.

Christmas markets in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Old Town is beautiful at any time of year, but it looks particularly spectacular in December, when Princes Street Gardens are transformed into a magical Christmas market. The markets are just minutes from Haymarket Station and Edinburgh Waverley Station, meaning you can hop off the train and get your hands on a hot mug of mulled wine in under five minutes.

Christmas in Edinburgh

The main market is in the east side of Princes Street Gardens, and is a traditional one selling local products and bespoke gifts and tasty treats like mulled wine, yule log and Bratwurst. The big wheel is an iconic part of Edinburgh’s annual Christmas market and gives incredible views of the city and over the sea to Fife from an enclosed, weather-proof pod - it’s a must for children and adults alike!

Over in the west side of Princes Street gardens, you’ll find the Christmas Tree Maze with Santa’s Elves’ Workshop in the centre. Any little ones who manage to find the workshop will be rewarded with a treat! Over on George Street, one of the city’s main shopping streets, you’ll find a massive with family-only sessions available on selected days.

For more information about the Edinburgh Christmas Market, have a look at our dedicated page.

Christmas markets in London

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Christmas markets in London, which have plenty of options to suit everyone. Each one offers something slightly different, from unique hand-crafted gifts to personalised wreaths and fairground rides.
Christmas in London

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is probably the best-known Christmas market in London, and can be reached from London Euston in under 20 minutes by tube. Visit in the morning for a quieter, family-friendly experience, or head to the park in the evening for a fun-filled night of hot drinks, festive treats and fun rides. There’s a huge number of things to see and do in the market - ever fancied crafting your own ice sculpture or racing your friends down an ice slide? Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the street food village to sample some of London’s best independent food makers.

Pop into the Selfridges Christmas Market if you’re browsing the shops on Oxford Street - held on Edwards Mews behind the department store, it’s just a couple of minutes walk. There's fairground rides for both kids and adults, personalised wreaths that are made for you while you wait, and a mouth-watering array of food stalls selected by Street Feast.

Covent Garden is pretty at any time of year, but it’s especially magical at Christmas when the markets take over. Covent Garden Christmas Village features a festive food and drink market as well as a winter forest archway and Santa’s sleigh, offering the perfect photo opportunity. For a special dining experience, book one of eight Ramsbury Forest Domes. These luxury festive igloos are tucked away within a Christmas tree forest for a truly unique dinner with your nearest and dearest.

To read more about getting a train to Christmas Markets in London, you can visit our dedicated page. To find out more about Winter Wonderland and other events in London this Christmas, visit our London Christmas Events page.   

Christmas Markets in Glasgow

Take a train to Glasgow Central Station for easy access to the city's Christmas festivities. Amidst the bustling streets of Glasgow, the city transforms into a festive wonderland as the holiday season draws near. With two prime locations, St Enoch Square and George Square, Glasgow's Christmas Market is a sight to behold and an experience to cherish.
Christmas in Glasgow

The Christmas market traces its roots back to the late 20th century. It has grown from the modest gathering of stalls and now reflects the city's love of festive traditions. With so many Christmas markets across Europe, Glasgow has a distinctive Scottish take. 

With thousands of visitors each year, the market has become a staple of Glasgow's seasonal offerings. Boasting flavours and crafts from 32 different countries, the market captures the global spirit of the season in one location.

At George Square, kids can enjoy a vintage helter-skelter and Victorian Carousel, while adults may fancy a peek at the two large windmill chalets. Moreover, the market hosts a giant advent calendar with daily surprises that are sure to delight any younger visitors.

St Enoch Square boasts thrilling rides like The Blizzard and an ice climbing wall. You can also hop aboard Santa’s runaway train or indulge in festive treats ranging from hot chocolates to Bratwurst.

Find out more about the Glasgow Christmas Market with our dedicated page.

Plan your next festive trip

Have we whetted your appetite for all things Christmassy? It’s easy to get to any of these cities to experience their fabulous Christmas markets when you take a train. Book online or on the Avanti West Coast app to find the best-value tickets, then all you need to do is write your shopping list and wrap up warm for a wonderful winter weekend away!

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