If you are traveling in Britain anytime through November and December, it would be a shame to miss one of the many Christmas Markets that have become immensely popular over the last 20 years. Indeed, there are now more than 200 annual Christmas markets across Britain, most commonly with German or Victorian themes, but the variations are many. Here are some grand places to catch the Christmas spirit, a glass of mulled wine and a variety of unique, memorable gifts.
It was 33 years ago that Lincoln began the tradition of German Christmas Markets in Britain. Now 350 stalls and chalets crowd the medieval piazza spanning Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral for hundreds of thou-sands of visitors over a short burst of four days from December 1 to 4. lincoln-christmasmarket.co.uk
Twinned with Frankfort, Birmingham holds the largest authentic German Christmas Market outside of Germany. From November 17 to December 29, Victoria Square, Centenery Square and New Street teem with Frankfort traders, crafts, jewelry and regional artisan foods. germanchristmasmarketbirmingham.com
Some 170 stalls line the pavements of the Abbey and Roman Baths November 24 to December 11. Most wares and produce are from local suppliers and artisans. An ice rink and glow-in-the-dark crazy golf in Victoria Park make up part of the fun. And then there’s Bath itself as the backdrop. bathchristmasmarket.co.uk
In the city of festivals, Edinburgh’s European Christmas market spreads stalls down Princes Street Gardens from November 19 on through the city’s famous Hogmanay party on New Year’s Eve to January 7. Catch a more Scottish-oriented market in the Old Town until December 24. edinburghschristmas.com
A Father Christmas Grotto, music performances and a holiday lantern parade decorate the wooden chalets of Salisbury’s Christmas market in Guildhall Square. Local craftsmanship and award-winning exhibitors are highlighted, with a panoply of German comestibles—and hot mince pies, too.
Some 9 million people visit Manchester’s mammoth Christmas markets from November 10 to December 21. In fact, 10 separate markets fill the city center with more than 300 stalls and vendors. The German market is in Albert Square, while Exchange Square offers a fun fair for the family. manchester.gov.uk/info/500241/christmas_markets
The Welsh capital hosts its 20th Christmas market in the city center, complete with 130 stalls specializing in Welsh products and crafts, from pewter and slate to Welsh lovespoons. The Winter Wonderland includes an ice rink and Alpine village—for sampling German sausages and such. cardiffchristmasmarket.com
Millennium Square transforms into a scenic winter village of wooden chalets, a carousel and entertainment from November 11-December 18. As if one needs an extra reason to go shopping in Leeds, it is Christkindelmarkt, a German Christmas market complete with a popup Alpine chalet bar to create “an aprés ski atmosphere.”
More than 100 wooden chalets fill the Cathedral Close in medieval Winchester for one of southern England’s largest Christmas markets. The German-themed market from November 18 to December 20 includes crafts and artwork, a skating rink, mulled wine and bratwurst.
Local producers and artisans give a definite hometown flavor to the Cathedral Green Christmas Market in the shadow of ancient Exeter Cathedral from November 19 through December 18. The market has grown over the last several years to run down Fore Street and Castle Street.