As we near the end of 2022, Christmas markets and winter fairs begin to pop up across the UK. Appearing in our cities, market towns, villages and stately homes, each is a nostalgic blend of traditional ingredients.

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Who can resist the aroma of mulled cider, roasted chestnuts and freshly baked mince pies? What about the gorgeous metallic tones of a local brass band as they play the opening bars of Silent Night, accompanied by the angelic voices of the local infant school choir? Add in twinkling lights and, if you're lucky, a few snowflakes dancing gently in the air and you'll feel as though you're in some sort of dreamland. You may even find the big man himself puts in an appearance to entertain the youngest members of your family.

Britain's very best winter fairs and Christmas markets celebrate rural customs, local produce, crafts, and ancient traditions. They’re a magical place to buy that special ingredient for your Christmas dinner, or a unique handcrafted gift for a loved one.

Wrap up in your warmest hats and gloves, and prepare to be romanced out of your petty cash by cheery wooden Nutcracker soldiers, artisan crafts and dangling candy canes.

Here, we take a look at some of the UK's very best traditional Christmas markets to visit in 2022, from York's hugely popular York Christmas Festival to Edinburgh's joyous celebration of the winter season.

Sister with little brothers walking in frozen winter forest

Best Christmas markets to visit in 2022

Christmas Market at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

19 November – 19 December

Visitors shopping at the Christmas Market at Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace's Christmas Market has something for everyone/Credit: Blenheim Palace

Warm up inside Blenheim Palace, taking in the splendour of the lavish rugs, priceless antique furniture and centuries-old oil paintings that take up entire walls. This Christmas, each room will be heavily decked out on the theme of the ‘Kingdom of the Snow Queen’, with highlights including the sparkling Land of Snowflakes and Kingdom of Ice – a crystal-studded winter wonderland inside the 300-year-old palace. Children will enjoy the story quest that runs throughout.

Outdoors, the magic continues as the park and gardens is filled with millions of lights. With glimmering tunnels, colour-lit trees and large-scale illuminations, the effect will be rather like walking through a giant Christmas tree. By now it’s surely time to get your hands around a mulled wine, and you can buy one (or a hot chocolate) from a vendor before you stroll along the trail at your own pace.

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Head to the Great Court – featured in The Young Victoria, Doolittle and James Bond: Spectre – for the market. Here in atmospheric wooden chalets you can pick up artisan gifts with a difference and chat to the craftspeople who made them. Almost all the sellers are local, and last year included candle makers, food producers and a healthy array of independent gin makers.


St Nicholas Fair, York, North Yorkshire

17 November – 23 December

Night at York Christmas Market
Wander through the festive streets of York this Christmas//Credit: Getty

The pretty medieval streets and cosy timbered buildings of York come into their own at Christmas, sprinkled with lights and decorations. For the 30th year, large wooden chalets will line Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square selling decorations, wooden toys and produce from the Yorkshire countryside such as heritage cheeses and bramble whisky.

Warm up inside the Yorkshire Barn on the square, or by the real log fire inside Thor’s Tipi on Parliament Street. At 4pm each day you can join a special Christmas walking tour to discover how the Viking mid-winter celebrations, Roman’s Saturnalia and Victorian feasts helped shape the city. Make time to explore the gothic minster and the very walkable (and pretty) section behind it.


Lincoln Christmas Market, Lincolnshire

1 – 4 December

Christmas decorations at Lincoln Christmas Market
Stallholders at the Lincoln Christmas market dress in Victoriana, and you won’t look out of place if you join in/Credit: Getty

Short but sweet, Lincoln’s four-day Christmas market takes place in the medieval square between its Norman castle and impressive gothic cathedral. Lincoln is 2,000 years old and takes great pains to keep its Christmas markets in keeping with its heritage.

Stallholders are required to dress in Victoriana theme wear for the long weekend – so you won’t look out of place if you choose to go fully immersive and join in. Why not arrive earlier and start the day with a walk in the Victorian arboretum, ending at the cathedral?


Liverpool Christmas Market, Merseyside

12 Nov – 23 Dec

Night falls on Liverpool Christmas Market
Liverpool’s markets feature a diverse range of local goods both traditional and modern/Credit: Geograph

Liverpool’s Christmas markets are in a new location on William Brown Street and St Johns Gardens in 2022. Alongside the usual local crafts and Cheshire produce, there are more food and drink stalls, including the hugely popular Yorkshire pudding wraps.

One of the best things about Liverpool in the winter, though, is walking through its magical frosty parks, such as the 235-acre Sefton Park, or bronze age encampment Camp Hill – both of which have some lovely cafes nearby to warm up in, before you head to the markets. Or, for something really memorable, hop on the train up to Formby to walk the Red Squirrel Trail. The walk takes about an hour, twisting through broadleaf and pine woodlands before emerging on the sand dunes of Formby beach. Climb up and enjoy the views over Liverpool Bay, Snowdonia and the Lake District.


Conwy Winterfest, Conwy

10 December

Conwy Castle at dusk
Explore Conwy Castle at dusk then head to the market/Credit: Getty

On 10 December, at 5.45pm, some 300 knights and dozens of torch-bearers will gather in front of the castle, ready to process through the town. Erwyd le Fol the town jester and Siôn Corn will of course be in attendance. This gripping medieval pageant will include hot chestnuts, Morris dancing, music, possibly fire shows, and definitely sword fighting at Lancaster Square. Traders will remain open for hot food, mulled wine and carousing. And as flaming torchlight casts flickering shadows of the knights onto the castle walls, neck hairs will stand up, and spines will undoubtedly tingle.


Edinburgh Winter Festval, Edinburgh

19 November – 3 January

Edinburgh Christmas Market with brightly coloured ligths and the city in the background
This year at the Edinburgh Christmas Market, you’ll find unique independent gifts in a new ‘Scottish’ market on castle street and an ‘artisan’ market on the High Street/ Credit: Getty

Alongside the usual bonanza of fairground rides, ice-skating, Santa’s Grotto, Christmas Tree Land and light trails, Edinburgh’s traditional wooden-stalled Christmas markets are set to expand this winter. Independent Scottish produce will be showcased in a new ‘Scottish’ market that’s planned on castle street and an ‘artisan’ market on the High Street and West Parliament Square – perfect if you’re on the hunt for some whisky-smoked salmon from a local fishery or a well-crafted gift with some real heritage. Walk up to Arthur’s Seat or through Inverleith Park to admire the views, and finish at the markets with a hot toddy.


St Fagans’ Makers Market, Cardiff

3 – 4 December

St Fagans in winter
Visit St Fagans’ captivating collection of relocated Welsh buildings in December for a magical month of maker’s markets, wreath workshops and Welsh carol concerts/Credit: Geograph

Nadolig Llawen! That’s ‘Merry Christmas’ in Welsh, and there’s no better place to learn about the history of winter celebrations in Wales than at St Fagans. And at Christmas time, St Fagans is definitely at its most magical, festooned with fairy lights and with maker’s markets to explore, Welsh carols to trill out and Siôn Corn – ‘Father Chimneypot’, Wales’ answer to Santa – to say hello to.

Doing your Christmas shopping? On the 3 and 4 of December, St Fagans buzzy open-air Christmas Makers Market takes over the museum, with craftspeople from across Wales offering handmade works of art. Or if you’d rather create something of beauty yourself, you can try your hand at weaving a willow wreath to grace your front door at one of the weekend’s workshops.


Exeter Christmas Market

18 Nov – 18 Dec

Christmas Market outside the Gothic cathedral in Exeter
The Christmas market at St Peter's Cathedral in Exeter/Credit: Getty

The impressive medieval Exeter Cathedral is the backdrop of this fairylit Christmas market, which is spread out on the green, surrounded by Tudor-esque houses and cobbled lanes. Festive concerts and services spill out from the cathedral, creating a classy choral soundtrack while you browse the stalls for West Country crafts and local produce, mulled cider in hand. Take a stroll or bike ride up along the River Exe and back down through the valley for a bit of calm before the smell of popping chestnuts lures you in.


Grassington Christmas Market, North Yorkshire

3 and 10 December

Roasting chestnuts on fire
Enjoy delicious roast chestnuts as you wander around the market/Credit: Getty

The annual Christmas market in Grassington is scheduled over two Saturdays on 3 and 10 December this year and makes a great focal point for a winter stomp with fabulous views. Grassington is Wharfedale’s main hub, a classic Yorkshire Dales village, huddled below the south-facing slopes of Kimpergill Hill and above the River Wharfe.

A glorious array of smells and sounds will draw you to the market square in the heart of Grassington where, as dusk falls, the Christmas lights that adorn the lovely old stone buildings are lit and buskers will be playing a medley of familiar Christmas songs.

A warming glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate will keep winter’s chill at bay as you stand alongside a roaring brazier contemplating the fair on offer, the scents of roasting chestnuts and mince pies, whetting the appetite for a range of local produce, either from the stalls or from the local pubs and tea rooms. You will be spoilt for choice!


Tenbury Christmas Arts Market. Worcestershire

8 December

Christmas at Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire
The High Street in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire/Credit: Simon Whaley

Coinciding with Tenbury’s late-night shopping (Thurs 8 Dec), there’s a pop-up Christmas Arts Market with arts and crafts stalls in the mistletoe fence-lined Tesco Market, with further stalls along Teme Street and at the Round Market. Local choirs and Tenbury Town Band will provide festive music and entertainment.


Sissinghurst Festive Market, Kent

26 – 27 November

Drinking mulled wine in winter
Enjoyed winter classics at the Sissinghurst Festive Market/Credit: Getty

Get your Christmas shopping off to a good start at Sissinghurst Castle Garden's festive market, with local food, drink, crafts and produce on offer. Enjoy live entertainment as you wander the stalls in this world-renowned garden. The market is free to browse, and you can complete your visit by wandering through the gardens for the price of normal admission.


Winchester Cathedral Christmas Fair, Hampshire

18 November – 22 December

Aerial view of Winchester illuminated at dusk
Aerial view of the the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Fair/Credit: Getty

Hailed as one of the best in Europe, Winchester’s Christmas market is held in the quarters of its 900-year-old cathedral. The festive market champions British craftspeople, and this year its ‘crafts village’ has an emphasis on local, fairly traded and sustainable businesses. As an added draw, between 13-18 Dec the cathedral is hosting Star of Wonder, an incredible sound and light show projected onto the walls and ceiling of the cathedral. But if you’d rather avoid extra costs, a packed schedule of carol services and concerts will set the mood perfectly. If you’re keen to stretch your legs, follow Keat’s Walk along the River Itchen – his daily stroll alongside the water meadows that may have inspired his poem, ‘To Autumn’.


Oban Winter Festival, Argyll and Bute

18 – 27 November

Scenic view over Oban in Scotland at night
Oban's harbour and Mccaig's Tower reflect magically in the water/Credit: Getty

The capital of the Western Highlands, with its comely seaside setting, is the perfect place to get in the mood for Christmas. Here, the 10-day Oban Winter Festival, which runs from 18–27 November, has a choice of markets offering local produce and a wide range of activities and events.



Bath Christmas Market, Somerset

24 November – 11 December

Ariel view of Christmas market in historical Bath from Bath Abbey at dusk
Ariel view of Christmas market in historical Bath from Bath Abbey at dusk/Credit: Getty

Centred around the Roman baths, Bath Christmas market 2022 is the biggest yet, spanning the entire city centre. The streets are filled with musicians, street performers and choirs singing their hearts under the twinkling lights.

More than 170 chalets sell – and demonstrate – craftsmanship from the south-west of England, this year including handblown glass ornaments, leather shoes, jams and chutneys from foraged ingredients, Bath cheeses and traditional Christmas puddings. A range of local distillers bring you west country cider, gin and rum, and naturally you’ll be able to buy a steaming winter warmer. There’s ice skating in Victoria Park, or why not take a Bath Abbey Tower Tour and get a birds-eye view of the markets? If you want to make a day of it, start at Bradford-Upon-Avon and stroll 9.7 miles along the atmospheric Kennet & Avon canal, enjoying the wood smoke and bright colours of the barges.


Malton Christmas Festival, North Yorkshire

3 – 4 December

Horse in a snow covered paddock near the market town of Malton in North Yorkshire in England
Horse in a snow-covered paddock near the market town of Malton/Credit: Getty

Make a beeline for Yorkshire's food capital for this special festive market with a foodie twist. Check everything off your Christmas list and stock up the pantry with seasonal treats, too, including figgy puddings, turkey and goose, award-winning macarons, mulled wine, gin and beers. With fairground rides, brass bands and choirs as well as top street food, this promises to be Malton's shopping event of the year.


Souter Lighthouse Christmas Craft Fair, Tyne & Wear

3 and 4 December

Lighthouse at sunset in the snow
Snow-covered fields leading to Souter Lighthouse in Marsden, Tyne and Wear/Credit: Getty

Head to the iconic beacon of Souter Lighthouse for its popular Christmas craft fair. Browse handmade crafts, gifts, cards, jewellery and much more, all made by local craftspeople.


Cirencester Advent Market, Gloucestershire

26 November

Christmas stall
Cirencester will be the place to be on 26 November when the supersized Advent Market comes to the town centre/Credit: Getty

Cirencester will be the place to be on 26 November when the supersized Advent Market comes to the town centre. Between 10am and 6pm, over 100 stalls featuring local traders will line Cricklade Street, Castle Street and Market Place. With entertainment and light displays it promises to be a fun and festive family day out.


Belfast Christmas Market, Belfast

November 20 – December 22

A snow covered Belfast City Hall at Christmas in Northern Ireland
A snow covered Belfast City Hall at Christmas/Credit: Getty

Try traditional seasonal treats from around the world and fairground rides in the grounds of Belfast City Hall.


Caerphilly Winter Food and Craft Market, Glamorgan

Date tbc

Caerphilly Christmas Market
Explore a myriad of craft and gift stalls and traditional funfair rides at Caerphilly Castle./Credit: Caerphilly Christmas Market.

Caerphilly Castle provides the magnificent backdrop to this bustling food and craft fair, with funfair rides, mulled wine, street theatre, more than 50 food, craft and gift stalls. Make a day of it and book a visit to explore Caerphilly Castle.


Tenbury Wells Christmas Arts Market

8 December

The Santa Parade at Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire
Don't miss the Santa Parade at Tenbury Wells/Credit: Simon Whaley

Coinciding with Tenbury’s late-night shopping, there’s a pop-up Christmas Arts Market with arts and crafts stalls in the mistletoe fence-lined Tesco Market, with further stalls along Teme Street and at the Round Market. Local choirs and Tenbury Town Band will provide festive music and entertainment.


Hopetoun House Christmas Shopping Fair, South Queensferry, Edinburgh

25 – 27 November

Hopetoun House in winter
Explore the parkland around Hopetoun House before dropping into the market/Credit: Geograph

Visit the Christmas market at Hopetoun House for a welcome relief from the stresses of the high street chaos. With festive entertainment and stalls selling unique and charming gifts and crafts, you can settle and take in the beautiful surroundings and Scottish hospitality. Be sure not to miss the State Dining room, decorated beautifully for the Christmas season.

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More Christmas markets to visit in 2022

Authors

Tanya Jackson in red checked shirt and rucksack standing by a wall with a big smile
Tanya JacksonDigital editor

Tanya Jackson is a digital editor and writer for countryfile.com. She lives in Wiltshire and loves campfire cooking, swimming in the sea, rural folklore, barn owls and walking her Welsh collie in the misty hills. Tanya also has a passion for English food and drink – although nothing tastes as good as tomato soup out of a thermos on a crisp woodland walk.

Simon Whaley
Simon WhaleyAuthor, writer and photographer

Simon Whaley is a Shropshire-based author, writer, and photographer.

Daniel Graham of COuntryfile magazine on a hike with wet hair and blue coat and hills in background
Daniel GrahamOutdoors editor, BBC Countryfile Magazine

Danny is the outdoors editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, responsible for commissioning, editing and writing articles that offer ideas and inspiration for exploring the UK countryside.

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