Christmas festivals and super shopping
Feeling festive? Explore the best Christmas festivals, markets and world-class shopping from London to Edinburgh.
Head to London for magical Christmas spirit – sparkling lights, skating and fairgrounds will make the most Scrooge-like feel festive.
Where: Southbank Centre Christmas Market
Shop for last-minute gifts at the wooden chalets at the Southbank Centre Christmas Market on the southern banks of the Thames. Here you can also fill your belly with food from the many street stalls and enjoy a festive show.
Where: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is another Christmas classic in central London. See the park transformed into a captivating landscape of lights and rides. Ride the giant observation wheel. Or lace up your skates for a whizz round the UK’s largest open-air ice rink.
Where: Somerset House
You can also ice skate at historic Somerset House. The rink is set up in the picture-postcard courtyard. As well as the traditional festive session, there are club and gig-themed late night skates.
Get into the festive spirit and experience a Christmas like no other, where medieval charm, festive colour and the sounds of heart-warming carols signal the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. With so much cheer and joy, it’s easy to see why York is arguably Britain's most festive city.
Where: St Nicholas Fair, Parliament Street
The centre of York is taken over by classic Christmas market wooden chalets selling food and gifts. Browse the stalls for presents as the smell of roasting chestnuts and bratwurst hangs in the air. Finish off with a mulled beverage by the fire pit inside THOR’s Tipi Bar for the perfect festive day out.
Where: Shambles market
Treat yourself to a hot chocolate from a stall inside the ever growing Shambles market and wander down the medieval Shambles – a narrow street of leaning timber-framed buildings. The street, which was once a meat market, is now filled with independent shops including one of our favourite chocolatiers.
Where: Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland
Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland can be found just a park-and-ride-away at the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet – enjoy an ice skating session on the outdoor rink after picking up some gifts for those label-lovers on your list.
Head to Lincoln for the UK’s most popular Christmas market; cobbled streets, Victorian lanterns, a medieval castle, magnificent cathedral, Christmas market and friendly festive welcome – if you want to get into the Christmas spirit, look no further.
Where: Lincoln Christmas Market
Lincoln has one of the oldest and most popular markets you’ll find. Wooden market stalls line the streets around the Cathedral, twinkling lights lead you through Castle Square to Victorian dressed traders selling freshly roasted Chestnuts and mulled wine. You can also enjoy a winter wonderland in the heart of the city serving real ale, hot chocolate and mulled wine in front of a roaring fire, cosy furs and twinkling lights at THOR’s Tipi Bar.
Where: Moroccan Market
This new market brings a colourful pop-up souk to the high street selling artisan gifts and sharing Lincolnshire’s culture and creativity.
Where: Lincoln Castle Christmas Emporium
Enjoy eight evenings of pure Christmas delight with arts, crafts and delicious food and drink. A spectacular evening Light Show and soundtrack will fill your night with Christmas magic.
Where: Billgate and Cornhill Quarter
If you want truly unique gifts, browse the boutique shops in Lincoln’s Bailgate, down Steep Hill and onto the Strait. Or enjoy the newly refurbished Cornhill Quarter just outside the train station.
Head to Leeds for an amazing shopping experience – the shopping capital of the north where you’ll be able to get everything on your shopping list from the boutique quarters and retail high-street heaven.
Where: Victoria Gate and Victoria Quarter
Here you’ll find a swanky new John Lewis – the biggest outside London – at the new Victoria Gate shopping centre. Victoria Gate and Victoria Quarter put a modern twist on the Victorian arcades Leeds is famous for.
Where: Christkindlmarkt, Millennium Square
For authentic German food and drink visit the festive village and enjoy the Christmassy atmosphere, twinkly lights and family friendly carousel rides. Explore over 40 traditionally decorated wooden stalls and discover unique gifts for that special someone.
Head to Edinburgh for a spectacular, six-week season of festive entertainment in the heart of the city.
Where: Christmas markets
The traditional Christmas market offers visitors a unique festive shopping experience with something for everyone. There are a host of local bespoke and homemade gifts as well as mouth-watering delicacies.
Where: Silent Light - George Street
In a world first, Silent Light brings together the spectacular Street of Light from Edinburg’s Christmas 2015 and 2016 and silent disco headphones to give you the ultimate street party: singing and dancing under a magnificent array of 60,000 lights synchronised to music heard only through the headphones.
Where: East Princes Street Gardens and Santa Land
Take to the The Forth 1 Big Wheel and 60m high Star Flyer to see Edinburgh like you have never seen it before. Santa Land is the perfect reward for little people who waited patiently while you’ve shopped, with the magical Christmas Tree Maze and don’t forget to take a ride on the Santa Train.
Stick around for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, the only place to be for New Year! 10 events over 3 days, see in 2019 with the back drop of Edinburgh Castle lit up by an epic fireworks display.
Head to Newcastle for festive feels with a cosy wander around Christmas markets, independent shops and enjoy wintery fun skating at Life.
Where: Newcastle International Christmas market
You’ll find gourmet ingredients and a very real taste of Europe with currywurst from Germany, waffles from Holland, paella from Spain and crepes from France, as well as artisans from closer to home selling gifts and more tasty treats to take home.
Where: Skating at Life Science Centre
From mid-November through to mid-February you can enjoy skating with friends and family at Life. The ice rink is open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. There's no need to book if you're visiting with fewer than 10 people, just turn up and pay on the day.
What: Shopping at Grainger Town
For one-off shops and designer boutiques check out Grainger Town – a historic part of the city centre. Find the best in high-end menswear at End clothing or browse Fender Stratocasters at JG Windows.
Where: Biscuit Factory
Arty gifts can be found at gallery-meets-shop the Biscuit Factory. It holds festive weekends through to mid-December with gift ideas from over 200 artists and makers.