Today I want to share my guide to the best places to visit at Christmas in the UK with you. There are lots of festive destinations in the United Kingdom, from bauble-laden cities to tinsel-clad towns. Whether you’re seeking the top Christmas markets in Britain or the perfect Christmas village, there’s a place you’ll love this winter.

Best Places to Visit at Christmas in the UK

Best Places to Visit at Christmas in the UK

The best places to visit at Christmas in the UK range from urban spaces to towns and villages in the countryside. Some are home to famous British Christmas markets, and others are renowned for British Christmas food or festive annual events.

Edinburgh Christmas Decorations

Whatever you’re looking for, these exciting places to visit in the UK in winter are bound to get you in the Christmas spirit.

I’ve been to all of these places, and I can personally attest to how worthwhile they are to visit. I hope my list inspires you to see one or more of them this Yuletide season.

Christmas Market in York, one of the best places to visit at Christmas in the UK

1. Edinburgh at Christmas

Edinburgh tops my list of the best places to visit at Christmas in the UK. Not only does the city look magical in winter light, but there are also festive decorations up all over town. This might just be the most Christmassy place in the UK.

The Christmas market in Princes Street Gardens is enormous, and every inch of ground around the Scott Monument is packed with gift-laden chalets, fun fair rides, and vendors of comfort food.

Walking around the market is one of my favorite things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas (along with a lot of other fun things, of course).

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Add to that Christmas shopping, ice skating, and festive entertainment, and the Scottish capital is the place to be at Christmastime.

If you can stay through New Year’s Eve, you’re in for a treat. Hogmanay in Edinburgh is one of the biggest and best celebrations in the UK.

If you want to take this trip, you can book a hotel in Edinburgh here. I’ve stayed in the city many times and my favorite is the Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh. It’s in a great location right by Edinburgh Castle. You can book a room here.

Edinburgh Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens

2. York at Christmas

York is another of the best places to spend Christmas in the UK. This city in the north of England is beloved for its festive markets, of which there are many all throughout the center.

I once took a day trip from London to York to discover the best York Christmas markets. I was in awe of the size and variety of the city’s offerings.

York Shambles at Christmas

Beyond markets, York’s shops and restaurants come alive with Christmas cheer. From festive facades to seasonal mince pies and mulled wine, there’s a lot to love about this place during the winter season.

The city is also home to Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, an annual experience featuring the north of England’s largest outdoor ice rink, a funfair, a Santa’s Grotto, and an alpine cafe. It’s the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit in Britain.

It’s fun to stay in town for a night, too. There are lots of great accommodation options in the city. You can book a hotel in York here.

York Christmas Market

3. Bath at Christmas

I’ve long considered Bath one of the best Christmas day trips from London. The city is magical at any time of year, but it really comes alive with markets and decorations during the Yuletide season. A day in Bath is a great way to take it all in.

Bath has a lot of unique events and markets on offer during the season. The Bath Christmas Market takes over the city center, and it’s a great place to find unique gifts and soak up the atmosphere.

In addition, traditional Christmas celebrations take place around the Abbey Quarter, and festive lights adorn the city’s iconic heritage buildings.

Bath Christmas Market

There’s also an ice skating rink in Royal Victoria Park right in front of the stunning Royal Crescent, and there are lots of street performances and carol singing.

Additionally, many of the best shops in Bath go all-out for Christmas. From outdoor lights adorning the facades to twinkling ones inside the stores, the decorations are top-notch.

The seasonal gifts on offer in the shops make perfect Christmas presents for family, friends, and other special people in your life as well. They make Bath one of the best places for Christmas shopping in the UK.

If you want to take a city break, you can book a hotel in Bath here. I’ve stayed at The Yard in Bath and I adore its stylish atmosphere. You can book a room here.

Bath Abbey

4. Canterbury at Christmas

Canterbury is another of the best places to visit at Christmas in the UK. This city in Kent is famous for being the home of Canterbury Cathedral. It’s one of the most important churches in the United Kingdom, and it comes alive during the festive season.

The cathedral puts on everything from Cathedral Carol Services to family services, Choral Evensong, and a Christmas Day Eucharist with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Canterbury Cathedral Interior

Outside the cathedral, a day trip to Canterbury is a great way to take in the the city’s Christmas festivities.

The Canterbury Christmas market on Whitefriars Street and St George’s Street features festive chalets rife with fun gifts and lots of food and drinks. There are also plenty of experiences for children and a Santa Paws experience for dogs.

Add to that live music events and entertainment, and there’s a lot to love about a Christmas trip to Canterbury.

If you want to stay overnight, there are plenty of options for hotels and other accommodation in the city. You can book a hotel in Canterbury here.

Canterbury Cathedral, England

5. Birmingham at Christmas

Next on my list of the top places to go at Christmas in the UK is Birmingham. This Midlands powerhouse is packed with Christmas markets and other festive fun during the winter season.

I once took a day trip to explore the Birmingham Christmas markets. I was in awe of everything from the gift-laden chalets to the sizzling sausages and seasonal decorations throughout the city center.

Birmingham Christmas Market

From the lights on New Street to the carols in Victoria Square, there’s always a lot going on during the festive period.

For ice skaters, the Ice Skate Birmingham rink in Centenary Square is the perfect place to glide through the winter air. The views of it from the contemporary Library of Birmingham are great as well.

If you want to do this as a weekend trip from London or elsewhere, you can book a hotel in Birmingham here. There’s a wide variety of accommodation on offer in the city center.

Snowman and Reindeer at the Birmingham Christmas Markets

6. Windsor Castle at Christmas

Windsor Castle is next on my list of the best places to visit at Christmas in the UK.

One of the most famous castles near London, it’s not only a great place to get into all things royal, but also the perfect place to immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit.

That’s because Windsor Castle has amazing Christmas decorations. From special exhibitions to festive garlands and twinkling lights throughout the halls, they’re always magnificent to see.

The piece de resistance is the enormous Christmas tree in St George’s Hall. It’s decorated with beautiful ornaments and pretty lights.

Windsor Castle Guards

There are other Christmas decorations dotted throughout the State Rooms, too. These include the Semi-State Rooms, which are only open to visitors in the winter.

Special events take place at Windsor Castle during the Christmas season as well.

From themed activities around the castle to choir concerts and arts and crafts workshops, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on a Christmas day trip to Windsor Castle.

If you want to stay a night, you can find plenty of accommodation in and around Windsor and Eton. You can book a hotel in Windsor here.

Windsor Castle, England

7. Hever Castle at Christmas

Hever Castle is another of the top places to visit at Christmas in the UK. This moated fortress in Kent gets into the Christmas spirit each year as it offers visitors a range of festive activities and events.

Hever Castle has a themed Christmas lights trail visitors can follow through the gardens and around the lake, Christmas gifts and food in the cafes, and a Father Christmas experience.

Inside the castle, there are traditionally decorated rooms, log fires, and bright Christmas trees galore. They bring the interiors alive with festive atmosphere and magical surprises.

Hever Castle Courtyard

8. Exeter at Christmas

Exeter is one of my favorite places to stay at Christmas in the UK. Down in Devon, this cathedral city comes alive with exciting festivities every winter. I spent a night here once during the run-up to December 25th, and I had a great time.

One of the best things to do here is visit the Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market on Cathedral Green. It’s Devon’s largest festive market, and it’s worth a special trip.

The market features a labyrinth of winding lanes lined with chalets packed with handmade gifts, Christmas drinks and food, and fun decorations. There’s live entertainment for all to enjoy, and free entry to the cathedral.

Speaking of which, Exeter Cathedral does a lot for the occasion. It hosts carol services, concerts, events, and candlelight tours throughout the run-up to Christmas.

Elsewhere in the city, there are twinkling lights, festive decorations, and Christmas trees in Princesshay. Shops and restaurants go all-out with seasonal decor, and there are pop-up markets and bars throughout the city center.

If you want to follow in my footsteps, you can book a hotel in Exeter here. I stayed at the Hotel du Vin Exeter and I liked my spacious room and the restaurant. You can book a room here.

Christmas Market in Exeter

9. Belfast at Christmas

Over in Northern Ireland, Belfast is another of the best places to visit at Christmas in the UK. From markets to festive events, this city comes to life during the season.

Sculpture in Belfast, Northern Ireland

One highlight of visiting in winter is the Belfast Christmas Market in City Hall Gardens. With games to play and chalets selling everything from food to local crafts, it has everything you need for a great day out.

An international market, there are things to eat and gifts to buy from all over the world. There are lots of countries represented, and it has a truly global feel.

In addition to the market, Belfast has great Christmas shopping, a Christmas Fayre with live performances and a Santa’s Grotto in Victoria Square, family events, and more.

If you want to take this trip, you can book a hotel in Belfast here. I’ve stayed at the Malmaison Belfast and I like its beautiful exterior and city center location. You can book a room here.

Belfast City Hall at Christmas

10. Winchester at Christmas

Out in Hampshire, Winchester is one of the best UK cities at Christmas. This historic place has been called ‘England’s Christmas Capital’, and the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market is recognized as one of the best of its kind in Europe.

The historic grounds of the cathedral fill with wooden chalets each year to offer visitors and locals festive food, gifts, and fun. Twinkling lights and the sound of Christmas carols rounds out the scene. It’s a great place to see on a Winchester day trip.

Winchester Building

The cathedral itself offers plenty for visitors at Christmastime, too. From carol concerts to Christmas services and events, it’s an ideal place to get into the seasonal spirit in the United Kingdom.

Elsewhere in Winchester, there’s great Christmas shopping, performances, lights, and events to enjoy. There’s even an annual Santa Fun Run in the heart of the city.

If you want to stay overnight, you can book a hotel in Winchester here. There are a lot of options for accommodation in and around the city center.

Winchester Cathedral

11. Inverness at Christmas

Underrated Inverness is another of my favorite places to visit at Christmas in the UK. The cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands, this city is a fun place to explore during the festive season.

Inverness shopping arcade at Christmas

One of the best things to do in Inverness in winter is go to the annual Christmas fairs at Eden Court. They feature seasonal food and a mix of art, fine textiles, and home accessories that make great gifts for family, friends, and loved ones.

The city also has lots of Christmas shopping, decorations, and lights to enjoy during the winter season.

If you want to stay for a night or two, you can book a hotel in Inverness here. There are plenty of options for accommodation in and around the city.

Inverness Christmas Market

12. Manchester at Christmas

Manchester is another of the best places to visit at Christmas in the UK. In fact, it’s been called the ‘UK’s capital of Christmas’. From markets to lights and entertainment, there’s a lot going on here every year.

The annual Manchester Christmas markets are some of the best festive markets in the United Kingdom. They entertain visitors with hundreds of wooden chalets in the city’s squares.

From mulled wine and seasonal foods to fun gifts and decorations, there’s a lot to love about them.

Beyond the markets, the Winter Gardens at Piccadilly Gardens offer festive food and drinks plus music or live entertainment every night.

Add to that great shopping and decorations throughout the city center, and you’re all set for a festive visit.

If you want to make this a city break, you can book a hotel in Manchester here. I’ve stayed at the Malmaison Manchester, and I like its lively atmosphere and central location. You can book a room here.

Manchester, England

13. Nottingham at Christmas

Next on my list of the best places to visit at Christmas in the UK is Nottingham. This city is known for everything from its festive markets to its ice skating and shopping.

Taking a Christmas day trip to Nottingham will allow you to explore the annual Winter Wonderland extravaganza in the Old Market Square.

Old Market Square, Nottingham

It features everything from an ice rink to an observation wheel, bars, live entertainment, a Christmas market, and food and drink.

Elsewhere in the city you can enjoy great shopping, decorations, lights, events, and smaller Christmas markets.

If you want to stay overnight, you can book a hotel in Nottingham here. I’ve stayed at the Lace Market Hotel, and I’m a fan of the unique rooms and great location. You can book a room here.

Nottingham Lace Market

14. Leeds at Christmas

One of the top cities in England, Leeds is another of my favorite places to go in the UK at Christmastime.

Leeds is known for shopping all year, but in the winter it’s one of the best places for Christmas shopping in the UK. From Victoria Quarter to County Arcade, the city’s famous 19th-century shopping arcades get all dressed up for the occasion.

Leeds Christmas Tree

Another draw is the Christmas markets. The Corn Exchange hosts a fun festive one. It’s a great place to pick up gifts and revel in the atmosphere.

Kirkgate Market has a special Christmas program with a pop-up Christmas market, trees, fairs, and live entertainment.

There’s an independent Winter Market at the Royal Armouries, too.

Leeds Shopping Arcade

Add to that exciting shows, seasonal food and drink, traditional pubs, the Wheel of Light, ice skating, and artisan gifts, and there’s a lot to love about Leeds at Christmas.

If you want to stay overnight, you can book a hotel in Leeds here. There are lots of options for accommodation here.

Shopping arcade in Leeds, UK decorated for Christmas

15. Glasgow at Christmas

Glasgow goes all-out for Christmas every year, and it’s a great place to visit during the festive period. From markets to lights, fairs, and food, this Scottish city is hard to beat.

Christmas Fairs take over Glasgow’s main squares and offer visitors a plethora food, drinks, games, rides, and entertainment. They’re some of the main attractions in the city in the winter.

Glasgow University Building

There are Christmas markets dotted throughout the city, too. They feature chalets with gifts, food, drinks, and festive cheer aplenty.

If that’s not enough, there are ice skating rinks, workshops, performances, comedy shows, and other events throughout Glasgow all season. Add to that Christmas shopping and decorations, and there’s a lot to get excited about.

If you want to take this trip, you can book a hotel in Glasgow here. I’ve stayed at the Grand Central and I like the convenient location by the train station. You can book a room here.

Glasgow Cathedral

16. Chipping Campden at Christmas

When it comes to the best Christmas towns in the UK, Chipping Campden is hard to beat. Located in Gloucestershire, it offers the best of the beauty of the Cotswolds combined with the spirit of the season.

Chipping Campden Church

The annual Chipping Campden Christmas market is a treat to visit, and the Chipping Campden Christmas tree is a sight to behold. Together with the lights, the tree adds festive magic to the town throughout the winter.

There’s also a Christmas Carol Service where locals and visitors come together to sing the songs of the Yuletide season in the town square. With refreshments afterwards, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere.

It’s fun to stay in town for a night, too. You can book a hotel in Chipping Campden here. I’ve stayed at the Cotswold House Hotel and Spa and I loved its beautiful rooms and pretty garden. You can book a room here.

Chipping Campden

17. London at Christmas

For me, London is the most magical place to spend Christmas in the UK. The capital comes alive during the season with markets, ice skating, lights, performances, events, and more.

Covent Garden Christmas Decorations

Some of my favorite things to do in London at Christmas include visiting the city’s Christmas markets, seeing the Christmas trees, standing in awe of the lights, going Christmas shopping, walking around Covent Garden at Christmas, and seeing London’s shopping arcades all dressed up for the season.

Regent Street Christmas Lights in London

If you want to see the best of it, you can follow my London Christmas itinerary or take one of my free self-guided Christmas walks in London. They’ll show you the highlights of Christmas in London.

You can also take a Christmas walking tour, bus tour, or black cab tour in London if you want a guided experience. You can book one through GetYourGuide. They’re fun ways to see the highlights of the festive season in the city.

If you need a hotel, you can take a look at my guide to the best places to stay in London. It has my top picks for accommodation throughout the UK capital.

Covent Garden Christmas Tree

Best Places to Visit at Christmas in the UK

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the best places to visit at Christmas in the UK, and that it’s inspired you to get out and discover some of the most festive spots in the country.

I’m sure they’ll help you get into the seasonal spirit as much as they’ve helped me. Happy travels!

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Best Places to Visit at Christmas in the UK

2 Comments on Lady’s 17 Best Places to Visit at Christmas in the UK

  1. I’ve just returned from the UK. Went to York on “Black Friday” and was amazed at all the people. The Christmas market was almost standing room only. The UK is simply stunning at Christmas.

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