Best Christmas Markets in the North

Monday 09th October 2023

It’s almost time to untangle those fairy lights and snip off some sprigs of holly! With December close on the horizon, you may be craving a little festive magic. What better way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year than a trip to a Christmas market?

The North and Scotland are blessed with some truly fantastic options, all of which provide you with the perfect opportunities to sample a few festive delights and pick up some gorgeous gifts for your loved ones. Some are set to open as early as the first week of November this year, so now’s the time to start planning a visit.

To get into the festive spirit, here are our seven favourite Christmas markets in the North to add to your bucket list in 2023.

Leeds Christmas Market

When: 24th November – 22nd December
Where: Leeds City Centre: Briggate, City Square, The Headrow

After several years of hosting no large festive market, Leeds is back with a bang in 2023. This year, stalls, food venues and entertainment spaces will be popping up all over the city from the end of November right up until the weekend before Christmas Day.

Highlights of Leeds Christmas Market will include over 120 Bavarian-style market stalls, plus three outdoor bar spaces serving up all the cosy vibes – think festive drinks, bright decorations and comfy seating where you can sip, snack and socialise with friends. There are loads of fun family activities to look forward to as well, from the Ice Cube skating rink to shows and musical performances.

Manchester Christmas Markets

When: 10th November – 21st December
Where: Manchester City Centre: Piccadilly Gardens, St Ann’s Square and Exchange Street, Market Street, King’s Street, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Square, The Corn Exchange, Cathedral Gardens and Spinningfields

As the host of the largest Christmas market in the North, it’d be impossible not to include Manchester on our list. The city never fails to wow with its festive offering which takes place at locations across the city centre from mid-November.

One of the most popular Manchester Christmas Markets zones is the super central Piccadilly Gardens and it’s where you’ll be able to pick up homemade gifts, plenty of tasty grub and, of course, festive mugs filled with mulled wine. Elsewhere, you’ll typically find a variety of high-end gifts for sale at the stalls around the sleek Spinningfields neighbourhood, plus vendors selling authentic European Christmas treats along King Street.

Want to combine your market wanderings with a festive activity? Make a beeline for Cathedral Gardens where an outdoor ice rink will be open until the 2nd of January.

York’s St Nicholas Fair

When: 16th November – 22nd December
Where: St Sampson’s Square and Parliament Street, York

Thanks to its winding, cobblestone streets and medieval monuments, York always looks like a postcard regardless of what time of year it is! Nevertheless, the city is particularly photogenic by the end of November thanks to its glittering festive lights and lively Christmas market.

York’s St Nicholas Fair is charmingly traditional and is now in its 31st year. Prepare to browse 70 alpine-style chalets jam-paced with shops and tempting street food stalls. They’ll all be spread out along St Sampson’s Square and Parliament Street, and there’s plenty of local sellers taking part in the festivities.

Edinburgh Christmas Market

When: 24th November – 3rd January
Where: East and West Princess Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Edinburgh famously pulls out all the stops for Hogmanay – but that doesn’t mean the Scottish capital scrimps when it comes to Christmas. The entire city looks like something out of a festive movie come December, with the majority of its decorations and seasonal attractions concentrated around its two major shopping streets.

For a host of colourful stalls selling artisan gifts and exquisite edible treats, check out the main Edinburgh Christmas Market around East and West Princess Street Gardens.

In the East Gardens, you’ll find traditional Christmas stalls, festive food and the Big Wheel – the perfect place to see the city from up high. In the East there’s a family-friendly zone with funfair-style rides for kids to enjoy. Don’t miss the free shows and other family-friendly entertainment at the gardens’ Ross Bandstand too. Ice skaters will find the usual rink set up on bustling George Street in the New Town.

Malton Christmas Festival

When: 2nd and 3rd December
Where: Market Place, Malton

Foodies rejoice! This charming Yorkshire market town has long been famed for its culinary offering and come December, it will host a two-day-long event that’s almost entirely dedicated to delicious Christmassy treats.

The festive version of Malton’s regular monthly food market will take place on the first weekend of December in 2023. Malton Christmas Festival will set up shop in the town’s attractive Market Place, with stalls selling a huge array of scrumptious edible and non-food items and gifts. Savour some of the town’s best street food and enjoy free entertainment from a handful of local bands.

Newcastle Christmas Market

When: 18th November to 24th December
Where: Grey’s Monument, Blackett Street and Northumberland Street

Heading to the North East this festive season? Don’t miss Newcastle Christmas Market. This iconic city is home to a wonderful extravaganza come late November. There are always dozens of spectacular stalls selling amazing gifts, from local beers to handmade pottery and other crafts.

Newcastle Christmas Market merges with the city’s regular farmer’s market, meaning there’s lots of delicious treats up for grabs. Kids will also love meeting Santa at special events hosted throughout November and December.

Carlisle Christmas Market

When: 1st December to 17th December
Where: Outside Carlisle Town Hall

For a more intimate festive market experience in the North, make your way to Carlisle. This major gateway to the Lake District will be getting a festive makeover in the first half of December, with around 40 stalls selling everything from handmade gifts to delicious seasonal treats.

Carlisle Christmas Market is known for its locally made, artisanal products. Expect to see wonderful scented candles, gorgeous jewellery, melt-in-the-mouth macaroons and (of course) cinnamon-spiced mulled wine.

Feeling inspired to visit one of the above festive markets this Christmas season? Journey there by train with us and enjoy discounted prices and seat reservations when you book in advance online or via the TPExpress app.

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