Five of the UK's best Christmas markets to visit

Christmas is almost here but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to visit a Christmas market, as many are still open in the run up to the big day and well into the first week of January. Here we pick five of the best markets for arts, crafts and a glass of mulled wine (or two).

London (until 8 January)

There are, predictably, a number of Christmas markets that have popped up all over the capital, which makes picking just one to feature a little difficult. There is the Winter Market at the Southbank Centre, where chalets line the river with crafts and various food and drink stalls, which runs until 8 January. There is Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, where there is ice skating, circus shows, a big wheel and more to explore until 2 January, while another Christmas market can be found in the heart of Leicester Square until 8 January. For those after something a little different in the capital there is the Christmas edition of the Real Food Market in King’s Cross. The market celebrates and supports local producers and independent food businesses, and the festive special will have the best seasonal foods on offer until 23 December.

Photo Credit: Eoin Carey

Edinburgh (until 7 January)

Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations are a serious affair, with various activities spread across four different areas of the city that include an ice rink and a helter skelter. It also has two Christmas markets to visit. The Scottish Market in West George Street is open until 24 December and is a chance to taste some of the best locally sourced food and drink in the city. The European Christmas Market on East Princes Street Gardens is home to art, crafts, and traditional Christmas treats, and it runs until 7 January so there’s plenty of time to go more than once.

Photo Credit: Visit York Facebook page.

York (until 23 December)

The narrow cobbled street of The Shambles in York’s city centre, the towering Minster and the glistening River Ouse are all good enough reasons to visit this historic city by themselves, but the Christmas markets are a perfect reason to go at this time of year. The St Nicholas Fair sees stalls lining Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square and The Judge’s Lodging, with more in the Shambles Market, where you can find everything from locally made food and crafts to Christmas cocktails.

Nottingham (until 23 December)

Nottingham’s Christmas market is in fact a Victorian Fayre filled with produce from local businesses, where visitors can find everything from handmade jewellery and wooden crafts to artisan cheeses and chutneys in stalls spread across Smithy Row, Albert Street and Lister Gate. The market itself is open until 23 December, but it is part of Nottingham’s own Winter Wonderland, which won’t close its snowy doors until 8 January.

Photo Credit: Cardiff Christmas Market Facebook page.

Cardiff (until 23 December)

The Christmas market at Cardiff is home to 80 stalls and more than 200 sellers this year, which means there is a great range of crafts from candlemakers to ceramicists (who make everything from domestic ware to jewellery). The food and drink on offer includes locally made craft beers, traditional Welsh cakes, cheeses made in Wales and seasonal artisan jams and chutneys, among a host of other locally made treats.

Where’s your favourite Christmas market? Let us know in the comments!

This is a guest post from London-based journalist, Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, who has written for The Independent and the Evening Standard, as well as our Open for Business blog.