A selection of Christmas markets and shopping destinations that come to life for the festive season. 

Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market (17th November to 21st December) is known for its bustling atmosphere, stunning location, and quality exhibitors. Each year the wooden chalets within the cathedral’s historic Inner Close showcase the original works of craftspeople and artists offering unique, custom pieces. Listen to the cheerful sound of local choirs singing carols while enjoying a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie with your group.

Top tip: consider visiting earlier or later in the day for a less crowded experience.

Shoppers and stalls at the twinkling Carlisle Christmas Market

There will more than 40 alpine chalets at Carlisle Christmas Market which takes place outside the Old Town Hall. 

Carlisle is set to become a magical destination this year with its Christmas Market, the biggest of its kind in Cumbria, running from 1st to 17th December. The historic city centre is the perfect setting for the colourful Christmas Village featuring 40 alpine style chalets selling a range of gifts, crafts and food and drink. Groups can combine the festive trip with visits to nearby attractions such as Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery and Carlisle Cathedral.

Victorian themed markets

The four-day Victorian Christmas Market is back in Stratford-upon-Avon this year, running from 7th – 10th December. Expect more than 300 stalls with stallholders dressed up in Victorian costumes. Whether you’re looking for a unique Christmas present, or just want to soak up the atmosphere, there’s plenty on offer as well as entertainment throughout the town including a traditional funfair.

Shoppers fill the streets of Worcester for the Victorian Christmas Fayre.

Source: Andy Burton / Visit Worcestershire

The Victorian Fayre in Worcester has grown over the years but has stayed true to its traditional roots with themed characters and a wonderful atmosphere. 

Worcester is also going back in time for its Victorian Christmas Fayre from 30th November until 3rd December this year. The historic streets will be filled with more than 200 stalls selling an array of products including local arts and crafts, festive gifts and street food. There are designated drop-off and pick-up areas for coaches too.

Meander through the alpine chalets and find a treasure trove of festive goodies at the iconic York Christmas Market. Each chalet is adorned with twinkling fairy lights and stocked with everything from original gifts to extra special treats and handmade crafts. Indulge in mouth-watering street food, pick up some unique stocking fillers and tuck into some seasonal produce from an array of local traders.

Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market (17th November - 17th December) on the iconic Cathedral Green is a winter wonderland set among a labyrinth of winding lanes, festooned with fairy lights and full of seasonal sights and smells from the festive lights. There’ll be singing from Exeter Cathedral Choir as well as free admission to the cathedral itself for Advent services.

An aerial view of Rochester Christmas Market

Rochester in Kent is transformed over the festive season.

Set in the spectacular gardens, Rochester Christmas Market is held over three consecutive weekends between 25th November and 10th December. You’ll find special gifts and stocking fillers from the many craft and trade stalls as well as mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and more.

Expect a great ambience with charisma and charm at the award-winning Bury Market in Greater Manchester which is especially popular at Christmas. There’s a full market on Wednesdays, Friday and Saturdays and the Market Hall is open Monday to Saturday. Look out for two special events this year; the Youth Market on 2nd December and the Bury Christmas Vegan Market on 9th December. There’s plenty to offer groups including a coach drop-off adjacent to the Open Market, a coach driver’s rest room, free coach parking and meal vouchers.

Shop until you drop in London…

There’s nowhere quite like London at Christmas. Jubilee Market in Covent Garden is well set up for groups including discount shopping wristbands for all of the traders’ stalls. GTOs can pre-book various refreshment options and during December there will be mulled wine, churros, doughnuts and crêpes to take the chill off. And if you’re lucky, during one of the market tours, you may see a very special person with his red suit and beard!

There’s plenty of choice with a visit to Gloucester Quays. Each weekend from 4th November – 17th December, traditional markets will give visitors a real taste of Christmas. Every day during the festive season, the young at heart will be able to show off their moves on an impressive open air ice rink in Orchard Square. Groups can also save up to 70% off homeware, accessories and fashion at the 50 high street and top brand stores. And once you’ve worked up an appetite, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to places to eat and drink.

Some festive dressed penguin ornaments on display at Gloucester Quays

Look out for festive goodies at Gloucester Quays over the Christmas period. 

Lincoln will also be lit up for the festive season from November (pictured top). Head to the Cornhill Quarter for high street stores, luxury brands and independent shops. Look out for the lovely illuminated star for some group photos too. 

Special Christmas events

Wherstead Park in Suffolk hosts a three-day Christmas shopping extravaganza each November with around 100 stall holders both inside the Georgian mansion, giant atrium and in two outdoor heated marquees. This year it takes place on 3rd-5th November with stallholders showcasing the best of what Suffolk has to offer in terms of crafts, food, artists, wines and spirits and clothing. There’ll be live music from local choirs, food vendors galore and a mulled wine bar.

Stall holders display their festive wares at Wherstead Park Christmas Show

The annual Wherstead Park Christmas show features three days of shopping.

Billed as the ‘home of Christmas shopping’, groups can head to Olympia London for the annual Spirit of Christmas Fair from 30th October until 5th November. In addition to hundreds of independent brands and designer-makers, there are creative workshops, live music and plenty of food and drink. For every 10 tickets bought, GTOs will receive one free ticket.

Shopping centres for the season

You’re bound to find a bargain at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth which boasts over 90 brands offering up to 60% off original retail prices. Located on the cultural harbour front and with more than 30 restaurants, bars and coffee shops, it makes for a vibrant Christmas shopping experience. Stay until it gets dark too to enjoy the Christmas lights across the city.

The team at Bluewater in Kent are busy preparing for this year’s Winterland which is set to be bigger and better than ever before. From November until January, you can extend your shopping trip with a visit to the festive event which boasts a selection of rides, games and attractions. There are a variety of benefits for pre-booked group visits to the shopping centre of ten plus including dedicated coach pick-up and drop-off bays.