The UK's Best Christmas Markets 2021

My Favourite Cottages have analysed 30 of the most popular Christmas markets around the UK to find out which ones are most worth a visit this year.

One of the biggest events in the UK cultural calendar is back as the eagerly awaited Christmas markets gear up for a festive return across the country.  

Originating in Germany, Christmas markets have become a compulsory attraction in British culture, a sign that Yuletide is just around the corner. Yet sadly, the UK public missed out on the festivities in 2020 due to the pandemic. Some popular markets are still cancelled this year including Bath, Leeds and Newcastle.

The question is, which Christmas markets top the tree this year?

We’ve analysed the latest available data to discover the UK’s top 10 Christmas markets to get you into the festive spirit.

To do this, we analysed 30 UK markets against eight data points* including number of stalls, running time, number of visitors, entrance fee and the likelihood of meeting Santa - to provide an overall market score out of 10 – thereby finding the best market of those analysed.

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Topping the table is Manchester’s Christmas market, taking a star turn this festive season with an overall market score of 8.31 out of 10. Arriving in the city in 1999, the Manchester Christmas Market scores highly in typical visitor numbers, recording approximately 9 million visitors at its last event.

Manchester’s Christmas Market is arguably the most popular online, garnering the most online interest in the last year with over 114k Google searches, surpassing the ever-popular Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park, which saw just 82k searches in comparison (total Google searches October 2020-September 2021) and only scored 5.72 overall – placing it 13th out of the 30 markets analysed.

According to our study, Manchester Christmas Market ranked highly across all eight factors analysed – including having 300 stalls, and running for one of the longest periods of almost 6 weeks.

Birmingham’s Christmas Market takes second place with an overall market score of 7.9 out of 10. Opening on the 4th of November, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas market generates almost £400 million for the city’s economy

But Birmingham’s market misses the top spot by a fraction by bringing fewer visitors, (5 million), and hosting less market stalls (over 180). However, the market does score highly amongst visitor ratings with an average score of 4.7/5 from Facebook reviews.

And if you’re looking for a white Christmas experience, Birmingham has the most likely chance of getting snow, with a 3.04 percent chance of flurries, closely followed by Chester Christmas market with 2.83 percent. 

York’s Christmas market has nabbed third place with an overall market score of 6.68 out of 10. Scoring highly in the number of Google searches with just over 73k searches from last year as the public eagerly anticipate the opening on the 18th of November.

Additionally, being one of the longest running markets, open for over 5 weeks (36 days). So, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to get your Christmas wares, unusual international foods and gift ideas here. 

Glasgow’s Christmas Market would have been the longest running for almost eight weeks (55 days), but a recent announcement means the market can only use one of its two usual locations and has been reduced to 33 days. Despite this, the market still ranks fourth overall with an overall market score of 6.57.

Bristol completes the top five best markets with an overall market score of 6.47.

It has been calculated the UK lost around £882 million from the 10 most popular markets being closed last year, although precautions were necessary to try to reduce COVID infection rates across the country.

However, with many UK consumers now vaccinated and several markets reopening, even with COVID safety precautions in place, we hope to see the return of traditional Christmas activities once again for families and friends to enjoy.

Whether you're staying by the fireside at home or opting to travel cross-country for a winter staycation, there's sure to be a Christmas market nearby, full of local and independent businesses in need of your support. And if you do need somewhere to stay whilst you browse, our fantastic selection of holiday cottages are available for festive breaks.

Always remember to check the latest information for each market before you visit.

For more information, view the full data on the UK’s top Christmas markets in 2021.

Methodology:

We analysed 30 UK markets against eight data points to provide an Overall Market Score, thereby finding the best market of those analysed.

We used the website and social media channels of each market to identify the expected number of stalls, number of days the market is running in 2021, the typical visitor numbers, the entrance fee, and if there is the opportunity to meet Santa.

Where information for the 2021 market had not been released by 13th October 2021, we referred to the latest news articles giving this information about previous years’ markets.

The Overall Market Score was identified by combining the data points into an overall ranking score out of 10 for each market. To do this, we normalised the data to allocate each market a score.

For the specific normalisation formula used and the data sources for the average visitor rating, chance of snow, and online interest metrics, please see the full methodology within the interactive.

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