The best food festivals and Christmas markets in December

The best food festivals and Christmas markets in December 2018

We have rounded up our top food festivals and Christmas markets in the UK for 2018. Mulled wine, mince pies and Christmas shopping galore

Looking for the best Christmas markets in 2018? We have travelled the UK to find the best german Christmas markets, Christmas fairs and festivals. There’ll be mulled wine, mince pies and Christmas gift ideas at the markets.


If you’re not a fan of mulled wine and jingling bells, you’re probably better off fleeing the country come December. Even those food festivals and farmers markets that don’t sell themselves as festive events tend to come draped with tinsel and trimmed with holly. Fortunately here at olive towers we love a bit of Christmas cheer. Here are our favourite food festivals and Christmas markets taking place across the UK in December.

Manchester Christmas Market

Spread across this dynamic city, Manchester’s Christmas Market is one of the country’s largest, with nearly 350 stallholders set out between nine distinctive locations. Soak up the festive spirit as you wind through the city centre’s brimming streets, buying from a tempting choice of food and drink producers from both the local region and across Europe.

Choose from traditional German bratwursts, great British hog roasts and an array of vegetarian options while fluffy Dutch mini pancakes and French profiteroles are sure to satisfy sweet cravings as you make your way around the wintry wonderland.

9 November – 22 December,

Click here to read about the best places to eat and drink in Manchester

Brunch at Federal Cafe Manchester

York Christmas Festival

The streets of York will be turned into a festive playground for 39 days this winter. Wooden chalets will house food producers selling everything from spiced apple chutney (look for Pucketts Pickles) to pecan and amaretto brownies (Brown and Blond).

If you’re feeling chilly, cosy up by the fire inside Thor’s Tipi with a mulled wine and burgers cooked on a winter BBQ. Head to the Shambles Market food court for savoury galettes from the Krep Truck and arancini from Pizzaoli’. As well as the market, look out for festive wine and gin tastings and Christmas afternoon teas popping up throughout the month.

15 November – 23 December,

Here are our favourite places to eat in York

These are our best homemade food gifts for Christmas including:


  • Blackberry whisky
  • Baileys chocolate tiffin
  • Sweet miso caramels
  • Aperol and red grapefruit marmalade
  • Chocolate-dipped honeycomb 

Baileys Chocolate Tiffin Recipe for Christmas

Bath Christmas Market

Bath boasts one of England’s prettiest Christmas markets, with over 180 chalets lining the streets around its floodlit abbey for 18 days (this year changes to the layout means those chalets are being extended right the way up twinkling Milsom Street too). While there will be homewares and art on offer, this festival is definitely one for the foodies. Start off with a hot toddy made with Somerset cider before trying a beer or two from Bradford-on-Avon microbrewery, Kettlesmith Brewery, and a chunk of Wyfe of Bath from Bath Soft Cheese.

If you’re on the lookout for gifts, Bath Botanical Gin Distillery will be selling their small batch spirits, or pick up a box of Hokey Pokey honeycomb from Somerset-based Chocolate Society. Over 60% of producers are from Bath and the local area so it’s a great place to track down really unique products and avoid the mass-produced trinkets that so often crop up at Christmas markets.

22 November – 9 December,

Here are our favourite independent foodie spots in Bath to visit while you’re in town.

Healeys Christmas Market

Unusually among all the bigger urban markets, Healeys Christmas Market is set on a working farm, in this case outside Perranporth in Cornwall. A weekend dedicated to festive food and drink, expect a range of Cornish produce on offer including jams, juices and chutneys, all made on the farm.

While you’re there you can pick up a freshly cut Christmas tree or enjoy a farm-style Sunday roast. And, as cyder is the farm’s main product, expect a superior standard of mulled cider to sip on while you shop.

Weekends-only, from 24 November – 16 December,

Canopy Christmas Market

King’s Cross’ independent food, drink and crafts market is celebrating the festive season with 17 days of masterclasses, workshops and tastings. Learn how to put together the perfect Christmas cheese board, make festive fresh pasta, sample English wines or try your hand at wreath making.

There’ll be mince pies from south-London’s Little Bread Pedlar to keep you fueled, as well as mugs of spiced cider and bean-to-bar hot chocolate to sip on.

30 November – 16 December,

Christmas Canopy Market, King's Cross

St Albans Christmas Market

St Albans has one of the oldest regular markets in the UK, dating back to the 9th century, so it seems only fitting that it also plays host to a traditional Christmas market each festive season. There will be a festive food quarter to graze your way around (head to the Meraki Christmas kitchen to find Neapolitan pizzas from Mozzarella Nation, traditional German bratwurst from The Real German Sausage Hut and street-food snacks from Indian 146).

Or, settle down in the market’s 3-tipis bar and sip on a hot toddy around the firepit while live music plays in the background.

30 November – 22 December,

Ely Festive Lates

Get into the Christmas spirit for the first three Wednesdays in December at the beautiful Cambridgeshire city of Ely. These festive “lates” take place from 4pm – 8.30pm and will be a chance to do some Christmas shopping to a backdrop of live music and local street-food. North Cambridgeshire micro roaster Silver Oak Coffee will be serving espresso martinis while local restaurant Habis will be dishing up bowls of paella.

5, 12, 19 December,

Click here for the best restaurants, cafes and places to drink in Cambridge

A large table with shelves is filled with bread, fruit, cheeses, meats, pastries, salmon and yogurt

Padstow Christmas Festival

Make a weekend of your foodie Christmas gift shopping by visiting Padstow Christmas Festival. This year’s event sees local chefs Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw headlining the stage, along with guests Nieves Barragán Mohacho, Reza Mahammad and Angela Hartnett. Pick up some tips, then eat, drink and shop your way around the stalls along the town’s pretty harbour (among them Chough Bakery’s proper pasties and Louise’s Larder’s rhubarb, rose and cardamom jam).

New for this year is a wine theatre; look out for Camel Valley Vineyard’s Sam Lindo talking about matching fish and chips with wine.

6 – 9 December,

Padstow harbour during the Christmas festival. The harbour has a couple of boats in it with houses in the background. The water in the harbour is glistening with red and blue lights reflected in it
Credit: James Ram

Christmas Bowhouse Food Weekend

Barn-like Bowhouse, just outside the small Fife town of Anstruther, hosts a series of indoor food markets throughout the year. The biggest of the lot, however, is the Christmas edition. Setting up stall for one weekend only (the second weekend of December), its range of artisan food and drink producers all come from the local area. Expect a dedicated street food section as well as food demonstrations and over 55 stalls.

Local shellfish will feature prominently, and paella made with hand-dived shellfish will be on offer in the street food section. Fustle will be selling farmhouse ales inspired by the East Neuk coastline while Scotland the Bread will be serving fresh loaves made from wheat grown on the Balcaskie Estate. Add in lashings of mulled wine and carols and you’re sure to get in the festive spirit.


8 – 9 December,

Christmas Bowhouse Food Weekend