The UK’s most popular Christmas markets – and how to boost sales of custom crafts and gifts
Do you make or sell custom crafts or gifts? Then there’s a good chance that you’ve considered Christmas markets as a possible venue for your products.
The German tradition of Christmas markets has boomed in recent years, with more markets appearing in town centres and stately homes across the UK. After cancellations in 2020, Christmas markets look set to bounce back in 2021, so they may offer a prime location for traders offering custom crafts, Christmas decorations, tasty treats, or seasonal favourites.
With more than 100 Christmas markets around the UK, we wanted to explore a selection of the most highly-rated markets, using TripAdvisor reviews. Below you can find a summary of the top 5 markets in the UK, as well as a selection of reviewer comments.
Covid impact on Christmas markets
Before we dive into the UK’s most highly-rated Christmas markets, a note on Covid and cancellations.
While most Christmas markets were cancelled in 2020 due to Covid concerns, the majority of markets are on-track to return in 2021. But despite a reduction in serious Covid cases, some Christmas markets are struggling to find sufficient workers, or are struggling with supply chain issues, so will not return this year.
Cancelled Christmas markets announced to date include:
- Leeds Christkindelmarkt
- Portsmouth Victorian Christmas Festival
Other Christmas markets may be affected as we approach Christmas, so be sure to keep an eye on websites for updates.
And now for the top 5 Christmas markets.
1: Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire
6 November – 9 January
The official line:
“Where better to start your Christmas shopping than at the Chatsworth Christmas market. With over 100 market stalls offering a wide range of Christmas gifts and decorations, it’s a great way to start the festive season. You can also explore our own exclusive ranges in the Stables shop with a wide range of home and fashion gifts, and lots of lovely stocking fillers.”
“The Christmas market has lots of local craft and food stalls and is a great place to enjoy mulled wine and hot pork rolls.”
“Will be making this a Christmas tradition to go there every year. Beautiful gardens to walk around as well.”
“The market was just as good as usual with plenty to see and be tempted to buy. There were ample food stalls and we were pleased to see gluten-free food available.”
2: Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
20 November 2021 – 4 January 2022
The official line:
“Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh, the traditional Christmas Market offers something for everyone. With stalls selling everything from local and bespoke products and gifts to tasty treats, visiting the market is a must this year. There is no better way to soak up the festive atmosphere!”
“The Gardens had a large array of stalls for the annual Christmas markets! Accessible access and well signposted, there was a plethora of stalls for food, drink, games, ornaments and much more! Had a dedicated area for children with lots of rides and amusements. Overall, could have spent hours walking around! Dog friendly too!”
“Couldn’t believe how big it was. Plenty of stalls to browse and loads of carnival rides for the kids. Loads to eat and drink. Definitely worth a visit”
3: St George’s Hall, Liverpool
it was “originally planned the market would be located on the newly renovated Lime Street plateau next to St George’s Hall”. However, “a decision has been taken to move this year’s market to nearby William Brown Street and St John’s Gardens”.
12 November – 23 December
The official line:
“There is something for everyone with rides and games stalls for the little ones and the big wheel and snow slide for the more adventurous. We have the cosy tipi bar returning this year along with the ski bar and windmill bar and the new addition of the Bavarian bar where you can try a selection of German beers.”
“I love to visit the wonderful St George’s Hall any time of the year but come December when the Christmas market is up and running it’s just a fantastic place to visit.”
“Another visit to our local small Christmas market November and December 2019 myself and my partner do enjoy coming and having a drink and sampling some of the food. We liked the teepee bar this year.”
4: City Hall, Belfast
20 November – 23 December
The official line:
“Visit the Belfast Christmas Market in the City Hall grounds from 20 November for an award-winning taste of Christmas. With a host of international traders offering incredible foods and delightful gift ideas, the choices are endless.”
“What immediately struck me was the amount of local stalls obviously sourced through local supply chains. The product lines were of such high quality.”
“The Christmas Market at City Hall gets bigger and better every year, we have been going since about 2010. The 2019 Market is the biggest yet and to be honest, I don’t think they have room to expand any further. Great variety of items for sale here plus lots of food and drinks.”
5: Waddesdon Manor
13 November – 23 December
The official line:
“Our spectacular fair at the front of the house is a Christmas shopping experience not to be missed. The fair will be set against the backdrop of the floodlit North Front of the Manor with its 20ft Christmas trees. Soak up the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas with our hand-selected stalls all housed in charming wooden chalets, surrounded by twinkling trees.”
“Visited for the Christmas lights and market with young children. Was a great experience with fantastic lights.”
“We went there as part of Christmas lights and market celebration. Loved the Christmas trees and lights inside the manor. Lights outside and around the garden were brilliant.”
Alternatives to Christmas markets
What if a Christmas market isn’t right for your business? We’ve assembled a few ideas to help you reach a wider audience and boost sales this festive season.
1: Prepare for an extended Christmas shopping season
One effect of Brexit, Covid, and a shortage of drivers is that everyone is expecting empty shelves to play a part in the Christmas experience. This might be as simple as sold-out Barbie Dreamhouses, or as traumatic as a national shortage of Brussels sprouts, but the main takeaway for traders is that Christmas starts early in 2021, because people are planning well ahead in order to avoid disappointment.
Limited supplies of mainstream toys like PlayStation, Paw Patrol, and Cocomelon may encourage some shoppers to broaden their shopping lists and consider hand-crafted and bespoke items, so these factors may work in favour of independent traders.
2: Tap into trends
There are dozens of simple ways to identify gift trends and in-demand items. Simply looking at popular TV shows, checking Google Trends, or seeing what’s hot at some of the popular online gift stores can give you an indication of what people are looking for.
According to search marketing agency Salience, the most popular UK gift stores in 2021 are:
Filtering by ‘most popular’ will give you an insight into the most in-demand gifts this season.
3: Expand your reach
If Christmas markets are not suitable for your merchandise or your brand strategy, then you may prefer to focus your efforts on some of the online sales channels.
Have you considered…
- Etsy for hand-made and custom items?
- Email marketing for building a relationship with your customers?
- Instagram for directly selling your best-looking products?
- Google Ads or remarketing for reaching a wider audience online?
- Facebook ads for reaching a highly specific audience group?
Have a Merry Christmas – and a profitable New Year!
Whether your small business embraces the Christmas market phenomenon, or prefers to stick to less seasonal sales channels, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that your products find a home under many trees this year.
Photo by Humphrey Muleba, published on Pexels