Guru Saves Christmas: Markets
There are certain things that have become the hallmark of a proper Christmas in the UK, with one being a visit to your local Christmas markets during November or December. These German-themed markets have cropped up in most major cities and locations, along with quintessential log cabin stalls, nutcracker decorations and plenty of Santa hats in abundance.
Since the Guru is committed to sharing financial wisdom AND spreading Christmas cheer (by singing loud for all to hear), we’ve put together a list of the best Christmas markets in the UK for you to visit. This will give you a chance to look up the biggest and best Christmas market near you, and plan a visit with friends and family to get into the Christmas spirit.
What is a Christmas Market?
Now synonymous with the Christmas period in many countries across the world, the Christmas market originated in Germany where it was commonly referred to as Christkindelmarkt. It commonly consists of a Christmas-themed market set up in a public space, selling items including:
- Handmade Christmas gifts
- Hot and cold food and snacks
- Beer and mulled wine
- Winter clothing
- Children’s toys
- Wooden crafts
You will often find elaborate decorations adorning log cabin structures that have been constructed temporarily for the Christmas period.
Christmas Market Checklist
If you’ve ever visited your local Christmas market, you’ll know by now that there are plenty of things to see and do. So much so, you might not have enough time to get it all done within the time permitted. This could lead to a repeat visit to sample delicacies and Christmas treats, but there’s nothing wrong with that (in fact it’s encouraged).
Have a look at our checklist of fun things you can do during your trip to a Christmas market, and see how many you tick off during your visit:
- Drink hot glühwein or German Weissbier
- Try cheese samples
- Buy a woolly hat
- Take a selfie with a loved one
- Get a novelty item for your kitchen
- Get a new bauble for the tree
- Buy a homemade gift
- Eat a bratwurst sausage
Where are the best Christmas markets in the UK?
While you can find Christmas markets in most major towns, city’s and villages across the UK, there are a few bigger markets that you can visit that will offer the most choice for homemade gifts and food options if you’re planning to eat or drink there. Have a look at our list of some of the best Christmas markets hitting the UK below:
Manchester Christmas Markets
Location: Albert Square, Manchester
Dates: Fri Nov 8th – Sun Dec 22nd
Opening times: 10am – 9pm every day for Albert Square, 10am – 8pm for all other sites. Closes at 4pm on Sunday December 22nd
With hundreds of vendors and 10 sites scattered throughout the city, Manchester has loads to offer festive visitors with the iconic giant Santa adorning the main site at Albert Square. Visitors will have the added treat of a new site at Piccadilly Gardens complete with Snowglobe cocktail bar.
Manchester’s markets have now grown so large that you will be hard-pressed to see everything in one sitting, so you will most certainly have to make a repeat visit!
Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Markets
Location: Victoria Square, Birmingham
Dates: Thurs Nov 7th – Mon Dec 23rd
Opening times: 10am – 9pm every day. Nov 11th (Remembrance Sunday) is restricted to 1pm – 9pm
The Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham claims to be the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria, which is good news for visitors to the city. With over 80 stalls to visit, along with a bandstand featuring a packed schedule of acts and events, you will be excused for making several visits to Victoria Square over November and December.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Location: Hyde Park, London
Dates: Thurs Nov 21st – Sun 5th Jan 2020
Opening times: 10am – 10pm every day. Closed on Christmas Day.
The Winter Wonderland Christmas Market in Hyde Park is ideal for families and friends to visit, with the added bonus that it has ticketed events you can pre-book before visiting. They include ice sculpting, a 70-metre observation wheel, Paddington on Ice, ice skating and karaoke.
If you really can’t get enough of Christmas, you can even visit the markets after the day itself, all the way up to January 5th!
Nottingham Winter Wonderland
Location: Old Market Square, Nottingham
Date: Fri 15th Nov – Tues 24th Dec
Opening times: 10am – 6pm every day. Late night shopping Dec 17th – 22nd so markets will close at the later time of 8pm
Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland Christmas market will open its doors on the 15th November, welcoming visitors to revel in festive delights all the way up until Christmas Eve. Alongside their markets they have a French Ski Lodge themed bar called Sur La Piste that opens much later for post-shopping drinks, a toboggan ride, ice bar and ice rink too.
Leeds Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market
Location: Millenium Square, Leeds
Date: Fri 8th Nov – Sat 21st Dec
Opening times: 10.30am – 9.30pm Mon to Sat and 10.30am – 7.30pm on Sundays
Unlike many other Christmas markets held around the UK, Leeds has a much more traditional Christkindelmarkt that features a Bavarian-style Chalet, Ski Hutte Bar, traditional carousel and the Kuh Stall. This in amongst 40 wooden stalls offering handmade gifts, toys, jewellery and decorations. There is also a weekly children’s show on the Market Square stage.
Glasgow Christmas Markets
Location: St Enoch Square & George Square, Glasgow
Date: Sat 9th Nov – Sun 22nd Dec (St Enoch Square), Sun 24th Nov – Sun 29th Dec (George Square)
Opening times: 9am – 10pm every day (St Enoch Square) and 10am – 10pm every day (George Square)
The Glasgow Christmas markets are traditionally split over two sites; one at St Enoch Square and one at George Square, offering over 100 stalls between them. Alongside artisanal crafts, food and seasonal drinks, children can also meet Santa and ride the Helter Skelter. For the adults, there are plenty of German bars where you can get Glühwein or German Weissbier.
Spread the cost of Christmas with a 0% purchase card
Are you thinking of visiting your local Christmas market soon? If you plan on purchasing gifts and would like to spread the cost of Christmas, you might want to consider using a 0% purchase card.
This credit card gives the option of paying off your purchases at your own rate, without incurring any extra interest on top. It will also protect any purchases above £100 in case you struggle to return items purchased from independent retailers.
Start your search for a 0% purchase card by using our free moneymatcher eligibility tool here.
Written by Robert Bester
Updated on 21st November 2019
Published on 18th November 2019