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 Team - Avanti West Coast Blog Author
Created by the Avanti West Coast team

Posted: 03/12/2021

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 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.
This usually takes place in St John’s Gardens and the area around the North Entrance of St George’s Hall - less than a 15-minute walk from the train station.

Liverpool Christmas tree

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 (Relevant of Christmas 2021). 

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, ech 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!

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.

The market features traditional wooden chalets from which you’ll find a whole host of Chester’s findest 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.

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, 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 ice rink, with family-only sessions available on selected days.

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.

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.

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!

Explore the UK by train

British unknown landmarks

Looking to discover a new landmark on your next family day trip or a romantic weekend away? Then here’s our short guide to some of the UK’s hidden treasures.

Find out more

Bracing weather walks

On Britain’s beaches, you can’t always guarantee the hottest, sunniest weather. But this doesn’t make the beach walks any less beautiful. Here are some of our favourites.

Find out more

Click here for more exciting blog pages

Birmingham     Most beautiful Scottish Beaches   Exploring the Lake District    Best Bohemian Shopping Spots