The Rise of Christmas Markets in the UK

Each year Christmas markets spring up all around the UK signalling the beginning of the festive season. They can be found in most major cities and towns, with a lot of them also accommodating ice rinks, big wheels and funfairs. But where did all the fun start...

But how did it all start? Where did the idea of Christmas Markets originate from?

According to the BBC, England now boasts what is believed to be the largest authentic German market outside Germany and Austria.

Although the earliest known market which took place around this time of year was Vienna’s December market held in 1294, it was not Christmas themed at all – it was more of a seasonal market. They were called Weihnachtsmarkt and were generally held in the town squares near the main church with stalls selling everything from drinks and food to handmade crafts, jewellery and paintings. Accompanied by traditional singing and dancing, one of their purposes was to bring joy and a bit of light to villagers’ lives during the long and cold winter nights.

The first official Christmas market is believed to be Munich’s market, which began in 1310, followed by Frankfurt in 1393. As for the UK, seasonal markets had been popular until the 1640’s when the celebration of Christmas as well as other holy days was prohibited by parliament for some time. The traditions weren’t re-established until the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1660, which was when the monarchy was restored. 

After this came the ‘boom’ of the Christmas markets in the UK, making it a relatively recent addition to the festive calendar of the British consumer. This started at Lincoln’s Christmas Market in 1982 with just 11 stalls in Castle Square. The phenomenon quickly spread into major cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Winchester and Bath.
Even though today the Christmas Markets might seem a bit more commercial and are organised on a larger scale, they still serve much of the same function as they have for centuries; a festive meeting place for locals and market goers for home-made Christmas food, ornaments and decorations.

Two of our Exclusive properties, Lainston House and The Manor House are situated close to two of the largest and most celebrated markets in Winchester and Bath respectively. Soak up the sights, smells and sounds as you wander around the market; we guarantee the aroma of warming mulled wine and freshly baked mince pies, enjoyed with a generous sprinkling of cheering carols will get even the biggest of humbugs into the Christmas spirit! Then return to the hotel for dinner and to rest your weary feet.

Bath Christmas Market

Each year the centre of Bath is transformed into a magical Christmas shopper’s paradise, as over 170 chalets packed full of gorgeous Christmas gifts line the streets surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey.

The Manor House is just 20 minutes drive from Bath.  The market is open from 24th November to 11th December. Come and stay! 

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Winchester Christmas Market

Founded in 2006, the Christmas Market celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The pretty wooden chalets are situated in the Cathedral’s historic Close surrounding an open-air real ice rink - wonderful Christmas gifts, decorations and festive foods can be found in abundance.


Lainston House is just 3 miles from central Winchester.  The market is open from 18th November to 20th December.   Come and stay with us to go on your shopping spree and we will include a taxi to take you into town.  

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With thanks to for the research.