Trying to find the best Christmas town in the UK to visit? Whether it is cosied up next to a fire, drinking mulled wine at a Christmas market, seeing dazzling lights or the food, there are some good Christmassy places to visit in the UK.
The Christmas season is perfect for a weekend break or a day trip to get in the festive spirit. These 12 winter wonderlands don’t disappoint!
Best For: Christmas Markets
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The award-winning Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest outside Germany and Austria. Here you will find over 80 Bavarian-style wooden huts serving up the tastiest foreign delicacies such as succulent Bratwurst sausages and mouth-watering waffles with syrup.
Browse the fairy-lit stalls for unique handcrafted gifts and accessories before the children drag you to the funfair for a ride on the helter-skelter or the Victorian merry-go-round. The Birmingham Christmas markets are spread over one kilometre and cover Rotunda Square all the way to the top of New Street, then into Victoria Square, which is located outside the Town Hall and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Taking the train into Birmingham is advised during the festive period as the roads can be busy (not to mention the nightmare of finding a parking space!). New Street train station is just a few minutes walk away from the markets.
Best For: Christmas Lights
Known for being one of the busiest cities in the world, the hustle and bustle is truly magnified in London at Christmas. So if you are searching for a place with the best Christmas lights, look no further than Oxford Street!
Historically, Christmas lights were first featured in nearby Regent Street in 1954. The idea behind it was brightening up the town as it was deemed grey and miserable after the war. This idea quickly spread to neighbouring streets, and it was in 1959 that Oxford Street introduced its first display. However, it is worth noting that the first-ever display of Christmas lights was financed by Harry Selfridge, owner of the luxury Selfridges department store, which made the store stand out against competing shops on the street.
The Oxford Street switch-on is one of, if not the biggest event of the year. To add to the excitement, the display is usually turned on by a well-known celebrity. So don’t forget to take your notepad and pen for an autograph!
Check out Carnaby Street if you have time. The Christmas lights here are equally attractive and reflect the musical revolution of the sixties. Carnaby Street was known as the heart of ‘swinging London,’ which is mirrored in the aesthetics of this groovy area of the city.
Apart from the incredible display of lights, there is an abundance of fun to be had in London at Christmas. Another event worth paying a visit to is Winter Wonderland – trust us, the kids will love you for it! Bursting with attractions such as funfair rides, Santa’s Grotto, and an ice rink, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a must-do if you are spending the festive period in London this year.
Best For: Traditional Christmas Break
Winchester is one of the most picture-perfect cities in the UK. With its ancient buildings and fascinating history, this cathedral city is a place the whole family can enjoy – particularly at Christmas!
It isn’t Christmas without a pantomime. Visit the Nutshell Theatre to see a magical performance (yet to be confirmed). With original music and unforgettable characters, a trip to the theatre followed by a festive lunch doesn’t sound like a bad idea. However, if you fancy a quieter activity, a stroll around the fairy-lit streets is just as enjoyable. Take in the stunning scenery while breathing in that fresh country air. It really doesn’t get any better than this. Or does it?
It is a crime to leave Winchester without visiting the Christmas markets dubbed one of the best in Europe. Tantalize your taste buds with walnut, and raisin Stollen washed down with a creamy gingerbread latte.
Each year, the Winchester Cathedral opens its doors to the public whereby choir members sing songs of Christmas around the ethereal-looking tree. The illuminated grounds are a sight to behold and create an air of excitement all around.
Best For: Celebrating Christmas
There is so much to see and do in the Scottish capital over the festive period; you will need a second vacation to rest! With a jam-packed six weeks of events, Edinburgh town is the best place to celebrate Christmas, and you certainly won’t be at a loss of things to do here. Take a trip on the Big Wheel and feast your eyes on the breathtaking views of this beautiful city. If it is the adrenaline rush you’re after, then maybe the Star Flyer is more your thing. But, at 60 meters high, it’s going to be a no from us!
Santa Land is probably going to be high on your list if you have children. Located in Princes Street Garden, this wonderful event will be like visiting the North Pole itself for your young ones. If you want to find the Elves’ Workshop, then a daring journey through the Christmas Maze is required. Other attractions include an adorable market where exciting toys and games can be purchased, a festive fairground, and of course, a visit to see Santa in his grotto.
When was the last time you donned a pair of skates? Well, now is the time as the ice rink at St Andrew’s Square awaits! Surrounding the Melville Monument, the ice rink is the perfect family event to ensure you go home with some (very) unforgettable memories.
The famous Hogmanay celebrations take place towards the end of the Christmas period, where revellers take to the streets with their whistles and streamers to raise a toast to the New Year. Be prepared to feel quite delicate the next day; the Scotts know how to drink!
Best For: A Cozy Christmas
For some of us, Christmas is a time of reflection, and if you are looking for a quiet corner of the Earth to visit, Keswick may be the place for you.
The Lake District is a wonderful place to visit all year round, and at Christmas, it is simply stunning! The town of Keswick is a snug spot for a chilled-out Christmas. Take an afternoon stroll through the fairy-lit streets and explore the stores for unique festive gifts and home accessories.
The mountain views and glistening lakes are surrounded by sleepy cafes and intimate pubs, so you can meet up with friends for a casual, festive tipple. You could also take a Father Christmas cruise along Derwentwater where the children receive a gift from the man of the moment, and mum and dad get to enjoy a traditional glass of sherry and a mince pie!
Best For: A Romantic Christmas Break
Known for its outstanding architecture, Bath is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the UK. Discover the fascinating history of this place, aptly named after its Roman-built baths.
The festive period is celebrated in style in this busy Somerset town based in the south of England. Take a stroll and explore the magic of the Christmas Light Trail. This illuminated walk will take you through Abbey Green, Kingston Parade, and Kingsmead Square, to name a few. The old Royal Mineral Water Hospital building and Bath Abbey are also illuminated, creating a real sense of festive spirit.
Many of the stunning open spaces and buildings are taken over by various arts organizations over the Christmas period. Watch out for live singing, dancing, and acting with showstopping performances from the local talent. Candlelit performances are also a firm favourite, which take place annually at the Assembly Rooms. Sit back and relax as local choirs lift your spirits with their remarkable, angelic voices.
Are you a foodie? We hope so! Wandering around Bath can be tiresome as there is so much to see. There are plenty of street food vendors to raise those blood sugar levels. How does a succulent pulled pork sandwich followed by a festive chocolate brownie sound? There are many idyllic tea rooms and snug cafes dotted around Bath, just in case you want to take a break from the cold and enjoy a good old British cup of tea!
Best For: Christmas Shopping
Manchester cannot be beaten when it comes to Christmas shopping. With various destinations to choose from, such as Manchester Arndale, The Trafford Centre, and The Lowry, you are truly spoilt for choice.
Shop ‘til you drop in Manchester city centre with big names such as Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Reiss, Ted Baker and many more. Manchester Arndale is home to high street stores such as Next, New Look, and the Disney Store. Stop for a festive bite to eat at the Christmas markets on St Ann’s Square, where the gift hunting can resume. Here you will find many Alpine-style wooden chalets selling authentic handcrafted accessories and gifts for that special someone.
Explore the Chill Factore in Trafford to visit Santa, and why not book in for a ski session while you’re there? Hilton House, located in Manchester’s infamous Northern Quarter, takes you on a 60-minute journey retelling the story of Christmas. Santa and his Elves might just make an appearance too.
Best For: Celebrating Christmas By The Seaside
Located in North Yorkshire, this popular seaside resort is bursting with Christmas events for adults and children of all ages.
Visit Scarborough Sparkle for the chance to browse a selection of luxury festive gifts and delicious Christmas goodies. You will find the market at the infamous Scarborough Open Air Theatre, along with an ice rink and a funfair for the children.
Breathe in the fresh sea air by taking a walk along the wintry coastline, and don’t forget to wrap up! The average temperature for December in the UK is around 7 degrees celsius, so a hat and scarf are highly recommended!
Best For: Festive Food and Drink
Home to the undeniably delicious Bakewell Tart, the sleepy town of Bakewell lies in the Derbyshire Dales and is home to around 4000 inhabitants.
Christmas in Bakewell is full of festive cheer, and there is plenty to do for both adults and children. The local Christmas markets are bustling with various stalls selling sizzling Austrian sausages and steaming mugs of mulled wine. Handmade Yuletide gifts and wooden toys for children can also be purchased.
Breakfast with Santa is hosted at The Wheatsheaf Hotel, where you can dine with the man himself before receiving a Christmas gift. Advance bookings are required for this event, so book early to avoid disappointment. Discover the magic of this town by taking a walk under the twinkling fairy lights that line each street. Why not pop into a local bakery for a fresh, doughy treat paired with a festive hot drink of your choice.
The children will love the local funfair with suitable rides for the very young. Prepare yourselves for a surprise visit from characters such as Anna from Frozen, Minnie and Mickey Mouse, and the Christmas-hating fool himself, The Grinch! The air is filled daily with seasonal music from local musical bands, and if you fancy doing a bit of Christmas shopping, why not pay a visit to the local craft fair for some authentic handmade goods.
There is plenty to see and do in Bakewell with its ancient courtyards, historic buildings, and various cosy cafes and intimate restaurants. If you are looking to spend some time alone with your family this Christmas, Bakewell may be the place for you!
Best For: Endless Festive Fun In The Most Magical Town
Visit Harrogate this Christmas for a fun-filled family getaway. Indulge in festive treats while visiting countless attractions for that perfect break away from reality. Harrogate is the most magical place to spend Christmas, and here are the reasons why.
Shopping in Harrogate is like no other with its vast array of independent shops. Frosted store windows display the finest of Yuletide gifts for the perfect present, and there are also several Christmas fairs and markets nearby. Ripley Christmas Fair is just a short, four-mile drive away. Here you will find over 150 stalls selling jewellery and accessories along with tasty baked goods and refreshments.
Discover the magical winter wonderland at nearby Stockeld Park, where the popular Enchanted Forest is blanketed with animated installations, festive music, and mesmerizing twinkling lights. The children will love it at Mother Shipton’s Cave, where they can write a letter to Santa and work as an elf by getting creative and making some traditional wooden toys.
Check out Betty’s Tea Room for a truly traditional afternoon tea with jam-filled pastries and cream tea. Treat yourself to a mince pie or two; you are on vacation after all! Clocktower at Rudding Park is the place to go if you fancy dining in style. This 2 AA rosette restaurant serves only the finest menus, so sip a festive glass of fizz under the breathtaking pink chandelier and relax!
Best For: A Relaxing Christmas
Located in the centre of the Peak District, the picture-perfect town of Buxton transforms into a place of magic and enchantment over the festive period. Buxton is deemed England’s highest town at 1,000 feet, so blow away the cobwebs by taking a walk to see the stunning mountainous sights and explore this beautiful spa town.
Relax with a coffee and a book in one of the many snug little cafes or enjoy a well-deserved festive tipple in a cosy, intimate pub. Take a candlelit tour of Haddon Hall or visit the Mercatum Winter Artisan Markets to browse, shop, and enjoy the vast array of delicious food, drinks, and gifts.
Best For: Most Scenic Town To Celebrate Christmas
This idyllic seaside town is the best place to celebrate Christmas based on its plethora of stunning panoramic views. Known for its varied culture and history, the town of Whitby is a tourist hotspot and caters to all ages.
Witness the switching on of the Christmas lights (usually turned on by the town mayor), supported by local performers and musicians. The Whitby Christmas Festival is back with a bang this year, having been cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Local artists and designers display their latest pieces available to purchase, and the tasty food outlet can’t be ignored. Any excuse to indulge!
This year, an incredible drone display awaits judgment and is the first time Whitby is testing out this new and emerging technology. Other events include a Street Theatre installation consisting of colourful projections that take place on a 12 meter-high arch. Aerial artists will be seen taking to the arch for some impressive, jaw-dropping performances. Get your tickets booked ASAP!
Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.