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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, a study into UK’s Christmas markets of 2023 has given Manchester taking the top spot, and put Oxford as ranking last.

UK’s Best Christmas Market

A study into the UK’s Best Christmas Market by JeffBet considered markets’ availability (opening dates/times), accessibility (closest car park and train station), affordability (food/drink prices, entry fee, ice rink tickets), attractions (traders, food stalls, and ice rink) and appeal (online popularity and reviews).  

From the bustling streets of London to the quaint villages of the countryside, the UK’s Christmas markets offer a plethora of experiences to tantalize the senses and create lasting memories. Explore charming markets adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations, where you can savor traditional treats like gingerbread, mulled wine, and roasted chestnuts. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of carols and laughter, as you browse through stalls overflowing with handcrafted ornaments, unique gifts, and Christmas decorations.

Whether you seek the vibrant energy of a city market or the tranquil charm of a rural haven, the UK’s Christmas markets promise to transport you into a magical world of festive cheer. So to work out which is the best, each market was awarded a ‘must-visit’ score out of 10 based on their performance across these metrics – with Manchester crowned this year’s winning festive open-air event. 

Manchester Christmas Market

The Manchester market scored 7.4 out of 10, largely due to its sheer volume of food stalls and traders, with over 225 stalls across nine sites throughout the city centre – including around 75 food vendors – and a public outdoor ice-skating rink.  

The market also performed well for accessibility, as the closest car park to Albert Square is just five minutes away by foot, while the nearest station is even closer at just four minutes. 

Those planning to visit will also have more money left over than if they were to visit a festive market in Leeds, Plymouth, or Liverpool – as Manchester is considerably more affordable when food and drink prices, entry fees, and ice-skating ticket prices are considered.  

According to the latest figures, the average cost of a hot food item at the market is £8.00, while a glass of mulled wine will set you back £5.50, and a pint of beer runs £6.50.  

In comparison, a mulled wine will cost you £7.00 in Edinburgh, a pint is priced at £7.00 in Cardiff and Nottingham, and the typical warm food item costs £9.50 in Southampton.  

However, Manchester could have performed better for visitor appeal, as although it’s attracted an impressive 33.2 million views on TikTok, it has a visitor rating of just 4 out of 5 and has a far lower monthly search volume (6.9k) than Nottingham (10k) and York (17k).  

Birmingham Christmas Market

Birmingham is the second-most worthwhile Christmas market behind Manchester, scoring 7.3 out of 10. The market was one of the top performers for accessibility as the nearest train station and car park is just a minute walk from the market.  

Birmingham also offered better availability than Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds, so people with a busy schedule may find it easier to visit that market over their local one. The market is open for 53 days between November and December, and for up to 11.5 hours a time.  

Glasgow Winterfest

The third-best market came out as Glasgow’s Winterfest, scoring 6.9 out of 10. The market is considerably more affordable than frontrunner Manchester and Birmingham, with the average warm food item available for £7.25 and a pint of beer priced at £6.00.  

However, the market suffered due to the number of attractions, with just 30 trader stalls to browse and a reported 12 food vendors – although there is an ice rink at George Square.  

Ten Best Christmas Markets 2023

      Rank      Christmas Market City      Must-Visit Score      Top-Performing Category 
     1     Manchester     7.4 out of 10     Attractions 
     2     Birmingham     7.3 out of 10     Accessibility 
     3     Glasgow     6.9 out of 10     Accessibility 
     4     London     6.7 out of 10     Accessibility 
     5     Nottingham     6.7 out of 10     Availability  
     6     Edinburgh     6.0 out of 10     Availability  
     7     Sheffield     5.8 out of 10     Affordability  
     8     Belfast     5.7 out of 10     Affordability 
     9     Southampton     5.7 out of 10     Availability 
     10     Leeds     5.5 out of 10     Accessibility 

Overall, the most affordable Christmas markets came out as Coventry and Sheffield, while the least affordable – unsurprisingly – was London’s Winter Wonderland.  

According to its online popularity and visitor reviews, Edinburgh was the most desirable Christmas market to attend, with an impressive 18.8 million views on TikTok to date. 

Meanwhile, the least worthwhile Christmas market was Oxford, with a ‘must-visit’ score of just 3.9 out of 10. Its comparative number of attractions let down the market – with just 45 trader stalls, 15 food vendors, and no outdoor ice skating rink.  

However, those planning to visit the market will be pleased to hear that it’s among the most affordable, with a glass of mulled wine and/or a pint of beer costing you £6.00 and the average warm food item priced at a reasonable £7.50. Entry to the market is also free.  

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Five Worst Christmas Markets 2023

      Rank      Christmas Market City      Must-Visit Score      Worst-Performing Category 
     1     Oxford     3.9 out of 10     Attractions 
     2     Bristol     4.8 out of 10     Attractions 
     3     Plymouth     4.8 out of 10     Appeal 
     4     York     4.9 out of 10     Attractions 
     5     Liverpool     4.9 out of 10     Appeal 

Overall, the area where the typical Christmas market performed worst was online appeal – as many visitors scored their local offering poorly after visiting – followed by the number of attractions, suggesting some markets need to increase the number of traders available. 

For most of us, visiting our local Christmas market is a staple of the festive season – but with many complaining about a lack of variety between traders or hiked-up food and drink prices, we’re more likely to travel further afield for a festive market and thereby miss contributing to the local community. 

Regardless of which outdoor event you attend, it’s key to be aware of ‘red flags’ that may dampen your experience if left unchecked. When purchasing food from a vendor, ensure those handling your order show good hygiene – especially given it’s flu season. Also, you need to be wary of traders who don’t have the prices of items clearly on show.  

When done correctly, a Christmas market is a heartwarming cultural experience that allows us to appreciate local holiday traditions – so, if you visit one, support local businesses and make memories with your loved ones this festive season.

-a JeffBet spokesperson
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