Best UK Christmas markets 2021: most festive markets from Manchester to Edinburgh, York - and when they start

Christmas markets will be returning to cities across the UK this winter after many had to be cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic

The winter chill is now in the air meaning winter is just around the corner and the countdown to Christmas is officially on.

With less than 100 days to go, it won’t be long until the festive lights are lit in cities across the country and the mad dash to buy presents gets underway.

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While last year’s festivities were few and far between due to Covid-19 restrictions, 2021 should more seasonal events take place - including the return of the popular Christmas markets.

The German markets in Leeds and Bath have both been cancelled for a second year in a row, but there will still be plenty of festive stalls popping up across the UK over the seasonal period.

So if you are keen to soak up the festive atmosphere and enjoy some warming food and drink, here are nine of the best Christmas markets that will be running in 2021.

Manchester Christmas Markets

When: 12 November to 22 December

Manchester city centre will transform into a festive hub this winter with several markets on offer to explore, making it one of the biggest Christmas events in the north.

Gift, crafts, jewellery and toy stalls will feature along the market trail, alongside a variety of international food and drinks.

The city’s markets are famed for traditional bratwurst, but visitors can also indulge in the like of Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella and a hearty hog roast, as well as vegetarian options and tempting sweet treats.

Manchester’s Christmas markets stretch across the city centre (Photo: Getty Images)

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market

When: 4 November to 23 December

Attracting around five million visitors each year, Birmingham hosts the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria.

A host of food and drink, traditional toys, ornaments and gifts stalls will fill New Street and Victoria Square for seven weeks, and visitors can also enjoy the big wheel and an ice rink at Centenary Square from 4 November 2021 to 9 January 2022.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

When: 19 November to 3 January

London’s biggest festive event has much more on offer than just a Christmas market, with an array of attractions and activities to keep all ages entertained.

Alongside street food stalls, a Bavarian village and Thor’s Tipi Bar, it is home to the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, ice sculpting workshops, a Magical Ice Kingdom, Zippos Christmas circus, fairground rides and Santa Land.

Edinburgh Christmas Market

When: 19 November to 2 January

Held in its usual spot in the heart of East Princes Street Gardens, more than 60 stalls are expected to pop up in Scotland’s capital this festive season.

The event will also stretch over West Princes Street Gardens and George Street between Castle Street and Charlotte Square, with visitors able to enjoy the likes of a big wheel, a Christmas tree maze, a Santa’s Grotto and an ice rink.

Edinburgh’s Christmas market is held in the heart of East Princes Street Gardens (Photo: Shutterstock)

Belfast Christmas Market

When: 20 November to 23 December

Returning to Belfast City Hall after being cancelled last year, Belfast’s Christmas market will welcome a host of traders offering a selection of tasty food and drink, and unique gifts.

More than 100 chalets will be selling both local and international produce, and visitors will also have the chance to catch some local entertainment at City Hall while enjoying a festive tipple.

York Christmas Festival

When: 18 November to 23 December

Held in Parliament and St Sampson’s Square, York’s St Nicholas Fair will feature more than 60 festive alpine chalets offering a unique selection of gifts, seasonal fare and local produce.

Visitors can also visit the adjoining Shambles market which is home to a wide variety of local indie traders, the Shambles Food Court, and take a ride on the vintage carousel in Kings Square.

Thor’s tipi will also be pitching up so shoppers can relax with a hot drink after perusing the stalls.

Seasonal fare and local produce will be on offer at York’s market this Christmas (Photo: Getty Images)

Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market

When: 19 November to 22 December

Attracting more than 400,000 visitors each year, this popular festive event is recognised as one of the best in Europe and sits at the heart of the city’s cathedral grounds.

The market will feature 125 wooden chalets selling an array of goods inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, including a tempting selection of food and drink.

A lantern procession will be held on the evening of 26 November and this year’s event will also boast an ice rink for visitors to enjoy.

Nottingham Winter Wonderland

When: 18 November to 3 January

Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland will boast around 40 Bavarian-style market stalls featuring gifts, crafts and speciality foods spread across the Old Market Square and on Long Row, and Smithy Row.

The market will be overlooked by an observation wheel and will feature an 18m Christmas tree at its heart.

Bristol Christmas Market

When: 5 November to 23 December

Based in the heart of Bristol city centre, this festive event will welcome a host of traders selling seasonal fare, crafts and gifts this winter.

As well as more than 50 market stalls, visitors will have a chance to meet Santa and his reindeer in December, while live music and entertainment will also be on hand.

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