Sleigh bells ring, are you listening… that’s right people, Christmas is BACK. While last year was severely lacking in holiday spirit, this time around we're going in full festive swing. Traditional German-style markets are set to pop up across the country in the lead up to the big day, bringing us tasty street food, pretty shopping stalls and all kinds of fun activities. From stunning Frankfurt-style chalets serving up the goods in Birmingham through to full-blown yuletide extravaganzas in Belfast, here are the best Christmas markets in the UK and festive pubs to visit afterwards.
Nottingham Winter Wonderland
For afters: Faradays
Bringing a touch of festive magic to the city this December is Nottingham Winter Wonderland. The fest will set up shop in Old Market Square and will feature Bavarian-style shopping chalets, which will either be stocked with fab gift ideas or rustling up delicious street food. We’ve also heard on the grapevine that there’ll be rides and an ice rink – making it a super cute option for date night. Once you’re done snapping pics of the pretty festive goings-on, pop over to Faradays just around the corner. This pub really sleighs at Christmas time, offering top-notch boozy bevs and tasty nosh.
London's Winter Wonderland
For afters: The Duke of Wellington
London's Winter Wonderland is the talk of the town come the Christmas season. From mid-November, Hyde Park plays host to several different markets where you can buy all manner of Crimbo decorations, gifts and grub. But if you need to duck away from the crowds after a day snapping up goodies, head over to The Duke of Wellington in Notting Hill. Relaxed and friendly, this is the perfect place in which to sit back and enjoy a festive brew.
Brighton Christmas Festival and Market
For afters: The Black Lion
Did somebody say après-ski zone? The city-wide Brighton Christmas Festival and Market will be one of the best winter attractions in Sussex. Expect a sparkling spectacle of pretty stalls, live entertainment, themed cocktails and an alpine bar that'll be pouring out some of the best mulled wine around. If you’re more keen for a pint? Then mosey on down to The Black Lion in the Laines, where you can grab a tasty winter warmer lunch (we highly recommend the roasts), as well as local craft beers and quirky mixes.
Newcastle Christmas Market
For afters: Old George Inn
Subject to government restrictions, Newcastle Christmas Market should be back for 2021. And oh boy, we can't wait. Incorporating the local farmers market, you can buy all the bits and bobs you may need for Crimbo dinner, plus artisan beers, handmade pottery and locally made clothing. And whaddya know, Santa will even be taking a break from the North Pole to make a visit. Carry on the Christmas cheer over at Old George Inn, which boasts a delectable festive menu and real ales.
Belfast's Christmas Market
For afters: Duke of York
As of the 20th of November, Belfast's Christmas Markets will arrive at City Hall. The area will yet again become a hub of all things festive, with a beautiful village of stalls setting up shop for the yuletide season. Expect international vendors cooking up delicious bites, from roasted nuts through to lobster burgers, as well as selling crafts that are ideal for presents. Make it a full day out with a trip to Duke of York, a cute and quirky pub (with possibly the best Guinness in the city) found on a cobbled alleyway in the Half Bap area.
The Manchester Christmas Markets
For afters: The Oast House
Taking place in Albert Square, The Manchester Christmas Markets are one of the highlights of the year. This yuletide fiesta will be a twinkling haven of wooden chalets, stalls stocked with gifts for all of your pals, as well as plenty of beer huts and, our personal favourite, sizzling German sausages as far as the eye can see. If you’re in need of a post-shopping pitstop, we suggest the The Oast House. The cosy nook serves up Christmas grub with a twist, such as their intriguing turkey kebab, which you can wash down with plenty of bubbles and beer. Meet you there?
Edinburgh's Christmas Market
For afters: The Conan Doyle
Last winter, Edinburgh’s Christmas Market sadly had to be moved online. But this year? Festive cheer will return once again from the 20th of November. They’ll be decking the proverbial halls with twinkling lights, mugs of mulled Irn Bru, stalls selling locally made wares, seasonal street food and an all-new set of thrilling rides. If you find yourself getting a little chilly, head over to nearby pub, The Conan Doyle. These guys don’t do Santa season in half measure, so expect roasts with all the trimmings and freshly poured pints, ideal for warming you through.
Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market
For afters: The Junction
Bringing a slice of Germany to the West Midland city is Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market. Tuck into authentic bratwurst and schnitzel, washed down by plenty of weissbeer while you potter about the various stalls that sell handcrafted goods. Lucky for you, there'll also be live music in Victoria Square, so it's also a top spot for chilling out with mates and dates. The perfect finish to an already wonderful day out, The Junction on High Street will be serving up seasonal fare and tasty drinks with all of their festive bells on.
Glasgow's Christmas markets
For afters: Waxy O'Connor's
Glasgow is home to one of the best Christmas markets in the UK, with stalls popping up in St. Enoch Square from November to December. Be dazzled by the colourful stalls, a vast variety of comfort food bites and rustic cabins that are just perfect for cosying up with a few drinks. After you’ve had a good browse, grab a table at Waxy O’Connor’s. The Irish-themed bar is the perfect place to hunker down with a refreshing pint and hearty eats.
Chester's Christmas Market
For afters: Brewhouse & Kitchen
Chester's Christmas Market takes place outside the Town Hall on Northgate Street, where a flurry of wooden chalets will pop up, offering passers-by warm drinks and traditional food. There’ll also be plenty of stalls selling unique jewellery and crafts, so you'll be able to get all of your Crimbo shopping sorted. And once your feet begin to get weary, cosy up over at Brewhouse & Kitchen on Love Street. These beer-lovers will wish you a very hoppy Christmas, with an extensive selection of tasty pints on tap, plus plates piled high with turkey and other roasted delights.
On the hunt for more winter happenings? Check out our guide to the best igloos in the UK here.