For a special day out – complete with gift shopping, seasonal crafts and festive fare – head to one of the best Christmas markets in London and beyond. Here’s our pick of the most magical markets and winter fairs to visit this December
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, 21 November – 5 January
The Hyde Park extravaganza needs no introduction. Winter Wonderland has become a behemoth festive event with the UK’s largest open-air ice rink, a comedy club, a circus, a fairground and even a karaoke club on site. Head straight to its Angels Christmas Market — inspired by a traditional Bavarian market — to browse handcrafted gifts, jewellery, winter accessories and sweet treats.
Coal Drops Yard, 13-16 and 20-23 December
Covering two long weekends just before Christmas, Coal Drops Yard is the place to go for last-minute quirky gifts, free from harried high-street shoppers. Stalls feature the likes of jewellery from Magpie on the Run, hand knitted socks by Olgakia and vinyl LPs and posters from Independent Label Market. There is also food and drink stalls, workshops on tree decorations and embroidery, and live music from The Swing Effect.
Belgravia Christmas Sunday, 1 December
For one day only the picturesque Elizabeth Street as well as Eccleston Yards will be transformed into a Christmas market, with more than 60 handmade craft stalls and boutique market sellers. Open from 11am until 5pm, Belgravia Christmas Sunday will also have carol singers and seasonal food and drink stalls, as well an appearance from Father Christmas.
Hampstead Village Christmas Market, 1 December
Picturesque Hampstead is the perfect place to spend a wintry weekend but there’s even more reason to head to the north London enclave for its annual Christmas fair. Marking the beginning of advent, the market on Hampstead High Street runs from midday until 5pm and promises craft and food stalls, a Santa’s Grotto and other family-friendly attractions. Enjoy a walk on the Heath afterwards.
Bath Christmas Market, until 15 December
Bath’s picture perfect Georgian streets make for a beautiful winter weekend away and its Christmas market only adds to the appeal. Consisting of over 150 fairy light-festooned wooden chalets, there are crafts, artisan gifts, Christmas decorations and festive food on offer. This year the city is also offering the Bath Christmas Market Experience, where you can try your hand at making a festive wreath with florist Hannah Southfield, or blow your own glass bauble at Bath Aqua Glass, before a champagne lunch at The Ivy Bath Brasserie and a trip to the Thermae Bath Spa and its rooftop pool.
Winchester Cathedral, until 22 December
Inspired by the traditional German Christmas markets, Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market attracts close to half a million visitors a year. It’s unsurprising given the pretty location in the Cathedral’s historic Close. The traditional stalls surround an open-air ice rink and once you’ve taken a spin, you can warm up in the Cathedral Refectory or enjoy the likes of mulled wine, bratwurst, mince pies and stollen from one of the outdoor chalets.
Edinburgh Christmas Market, until 4 January*
There is no shortage of Christmas events in the pretty Scottish city this winter, and with its decidedly Dickensian feel, a trip there will get you in a mulled wine and mince pies state of mind. Its Christmas market on East Princes Street Gardens is at the heart of the city and well worth a visit for its variety of festive stalls.
(*with some exceptions), edinburghchristmas.com
York Christmas Market, until 22 December
The sprawling Christmas market in the city of York offers a huge variety of gifts. From locally sourced produce at the Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village to more traditional gifts in a run of Alpine-style chalets on Parliament Street. Once you’ve finished your shopping, you can head to the fairground on Kings Square or sample the festive food and drink at St Sampson’s Square’s rustic Yorkshire Barn.
Exeter Cathedral Market, until 19 December
The stunning Exeter Cathedral provides the backdrop for this popular Christmas market, which has been running for seven years now. Traditional wooden chalets sell as range of local crafts and gift items, as well as Bavarian inspired food and drink. This year a large illuminated star will be hung from the front of the Cathedral, promising a photo-worthy festive scene.
Blenheim Palace, until 15 December
Located in the grounds of Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace, this market offers some extremely stylish stalls. Think handcrafted ceramics, textiles, leather goods, artisan jewellery, toys, stationery, bags, hats and more. Wander into the picturesque nearby village of Woodstock and you’ll also find some great boutiques and antiques shops.