UK Christmas Events: Your 2020 Guide

Discover the best Christmas events in the UK with our guide. Get into the festive spirit with these great winter events in England, Scotland and Ireland.

2020 December 02

With Christmas just around the corner, plenty of us will be wondering what’s in store this year when it comes to festivities. Worry no more as we bring you the lowdown on Christmas events in the UK. We deserve a 'Holly Jolly' Christmas after all…

UK Christmas Markets

There is no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than sipping on a warm mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate as you wander past the twinkling lights of a Christmas market. While it may not feel like it will happen this year, we have done some investigating to identify what COVID-secure Christmas markets are open to the public across the UK.

 UK Markets still going ahead in 2020

Some of our festive favourites may be closed this year, but below are a few alternative winter markets that will remain open to help get us into the spirit. Given the unpredictability of the year, we do still recommend checking their websites ahead of your visit to make sure that they are indeed still open.

Selfridges Christmas Market on the Mews

Alongside a whole host of Christmas events (including virtual video calls with Santa Claus and an in-store Christmas Movie-Thon), London’s famous department store will be opening its first-ever outdoor Christmas Market on Edward Mews. From festive food trucks to fairground rides, you can expect Selfridges to go all out with their socially distanced festivities in December from 4pm-9pm on weekdays and 12pm-9pm on weekends.

Christmas by the river London

For its seventh year running, Christmas by the river London will be back in all its festive glory - complete with German-style cabins, tasty treats, and riverside views next to the capital’s iconic Tower Bridge. Families and friends-alike will be able to enjoy the 70+ stalls that will remain open until the 3rd of January 2021.

Hackney Christmas Market

For family and pet-friendly celebrations, head over to the Hackney Christmas Market at Bohemia Palace which will be running across three weekends in December. The market will feature artisan gifts, street food, and drink stalls.

Greenwich Market

If you’re staying at one of our London hotels, make sure to visit one of London’s oldest markets to get some Christmas shopping done. Support local businesses at the three special late evening shopping events that will be held at Greenwich Market throughout December. Find everything from hand-crafted candles to unique art pieces for a special gift this Christmas.

Winter Island at Depot Mayfield (Manchester)

Launching 3rd December, this will be the largest, fully outdoor winter market in the UK. It will include a 45 ft Christmas tree, hog roasts, bratwurst, mulled wine, Christmas stalls, and entertainment. The island will be operating according to its social and safe manifesto to ensure that visitors will be able to enjoy their experience in a safe and hygienic environment.

Belfast Christmas Market

In light of recent events, we can also expect to turn to our home screens for a virtual Christmas market experience. This year, Belfast Christmas Market will be going digital between November 20 – December 20 with a showcase of food, drink, and a selection of gifts to browse and purchase online.

Edinburgh Christmas Market

While the Edinburgh Christmas Market may be closed this year, Christmas isn’t cancelled. Those wishing to get some festive cheer can explore the many virtual activities and support local businesses by browsing their range of artisan products to purchase online. It’s completely free to sign up!

Christmas Ice-Skating Rinks

Sadly a few ice-skating events have been cancelled for 2020, including Somerset House rink, Liverpool’s Ice Festival rink, Ice skate Birmingham, and ice-skating at The Natural History Museum. This doesn’t however, mean that every single rink will remain closed. Christmas isn’t cancelled just yet!

Alexandra Palace

Christmas at Ally Pally Ice rink in North London will be back this year from the 3rd December with COVID measures in place. Book online for an hour-long session alongside some Christmas hits and incredible panoramic views of London. Feeling extra festive? Take your ice-skating to the next level with music and flashing lights at one of the Palace’s evening Christmas Ice Discos running from the 19th December – 3rd January.

Hampton Court Palace ice rink

Soak up some history at the Hampton Court Palace ice rink this Christmas season from December 17th. Skate your way around the gardens of the historic Tudor palace with your loved ones but be sure to book in advance online.

The Queen’s House ice rink

Skate amongst royalty at The Queen’s House ice rink in Greenwich this December. This year the rink will be bigger than ever before and is already open for bookings online.

Festive Light Shows

A silver lining in what has been one of the most difficult years is that we will still be able to enjoy an outdoor light show in and around the UK. As most events are planned for the outdoors, many will continue to go ahead with social distancing measures in place. There will be plenty of light spectacles up and down the country to visit, here are just some of our favourites below.

Lightopia Manchester

If you’re staying at our hotel in Manchester, light up one of your evenings with a visit to Lightopia for a fairytale woodland experience. Complete with brand new installations as well as the return of a few family favourites, the trail will be reopening from the 3rd December for an experience that promises plenty of good times.

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

A stay in Edinburgh this Christmas wouldn’t be complete without an evening at the Royal Botanic Garden. The latest Government restrictions mean the spectacular light trail will be open from the 2nd December with luminous sculptures and glimmering lights.

The re-opening of festive light shows also means the return of our favourite high street shops in December. Despite regional switch-ons getting cancelled this year, we can still expect to enjoy the Christmas lights and shop-floor decorations that will already be on display this season.

Christmas at Kew

A festive favourite that will also be returning at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is the annual Christmas at Kew illuminations - perfect if you're staying in London for a weekend of Christmas cheer.

Christmas film screenings and pantomimes

Get some festive giggles in this year with Christmas screenings and pantomimes running across the UK. Enjoy some Christmas classics and even a festive CAR-A-OKE sing-along at The Parking Lot social’s drive-in cinema experience, or if you’re missing a bit of panto let them bring it to you from the comfort of your own car.

Some of the nation’s best-loved drive-ins are also making a comeback, including Luna Cinema, Edinburgh Drive-In, and Backyard Cinema who will be opening their doors from the 2nd December at two Wandsworth locations. Is Christmas cancelled? Oh no it’s not!

Christmas Parties and Nights out

We might not be able to party in the same way as usual, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy a good festive shindig this Christmas. This year, The Winter Bar Bus is back in time for the festivities giving visitors a grand tour of the capital. Hop onboard the bus for Christmas tunes as you marvel at iconic landmarks.

Bar Hutte will be back in Manchester in mid-December with a whole host of Christmas events, from karaoke to ‘Bottomless Ski Sessions’ (bottomless brunch) in their cosy alpine huts. Reservations are now open for Manchester - book early to avoid missing out! 

Add some Latin flavour to your festive night out with a visit to Barrio Shoreditch. The Latin-inspired cocktail bar will be hosting a Christmas event - ‘Now That’s What I Call Christmas,’ featuring a 3-course dining menu, bottomless bubbles, and Christmas party hits bingo. Stay at easyHotel London City Shoreditch to be within walking distance of the party. 

All in all, it’s true, Christmas in London and across the UK will be a little different this year but there are plenty of exciting events and ways to feel as festive as possible before the year is up.

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