Top 8 Things To Do at the Bristol Christmas Market

From the best times to visit this city-centre extravaganza to must-try foods and drinks, find out all you need to know about the Bristol Christmas Market.

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As the mercury dips and golden autumn yields to frosty winter, Bristol’s distinctive skyline takes a magical twinkling glow. From the graceful Clifton Suspension Bridge to the Gothic spires of centuries-old Bristol Cathedral, the city is bedecked with glittering lights heralding the festive season. And right in the heart of the city, the Bristol Christmas Market transforms Broadmead into an enchanting winter wonderland.

With over 50 stalls of artisanal produce and crafts, plus kid-friendly activities and romantic hangout spots, there’s something for everyone here. So wrap up warm and head into the sparkly, cinnamon-and-clove scented buzz of the Bristol Christmas Market.

What are the top attractions at the Bristol Christmas Market?

Good news: there’s a whole seven weeks to enjoy this year’s festivities, which start on 3 November and last through 23 December. It’s open every day and is naturally more crowded on weekends, so you may prefer to drop in on a weekday if you want to miss the masses. Whether you’re a shopper looking for unusual gift inspiration, a foodie on the hunt for Bristolian treats or a family spending quality time together, discover our insider list of the best things to do.

1. Pick up a one-of-a kind present

Wondering what to get that special someone in your life who already has everything? You’ll find plenty of beautiful local crafts here, from handmade vases and sculptures made from eye-catchingly distinctive Bristol blue glass, to exquisite bracelets, earrings and pendants by the city’s artisans. For something a little edgier, browse prints of works by famed street artist Banksy, who was born and grew up right here in Bristol. You can also pick up seasonal items, such as wonderfully snuggly hand-knitted scarves and bobble hats, or quirky Santa ornaments to decorate your Christmas tree.

Top tip: Scoop up a bag of creamy fudge or a bar of organic soap – they make the perfect stocking fillers. 

2. Sample local food and drink

Bring an appetite, because there’s tons of delicious Bristolian and West Country produce to fill up on. Follow your nose to the stalls selling local cheeses, and don’t leave without a wedge of oozy Somerset brie or melt-in-your-mouth, tangy Bath blue. You’ll also find an array of local preserves, from traditional fruit jams and marmalades, to intriguing combos like pineapple and gin chilli. Wash it all down with a steaming mug of mulled cider, made from local apples, a hoppy Bristol craft beer or a tipple of flavoured gin from the city’s burgeoning distilling scene. Too full to walk far? Book into a hotel that’s only 10 minutes away on foot.  

3. Cosy up in an igloo

They’re not made of ice blocks at the Bristol Christmas Market, but better. Think a spacious, dome-shaped pod, thoughtfully decorated with fairy lights and furry throws. It’s heated on the inside and made of a clear material, so you still feel like you’re part of the market’s festive ambiance, but cocooned in your own private bubble of heaven. Reserve one in advance for up to eight people, and pre-order a bratwurst, charcuterie or cheese platter, plus glühwein, hot cider or prosecco. Vegan sausages are also available for a small additional charge. For a proper après-ski vibe, you can book a ski gondola instead, which comes with a romantic package for two or food and drink for up to six.

Top tip: Well-behaved dogs are welcome. Children can also come along, but only for daytime bookings up to and including the 6pm slot. 

4. Toast the season at the Jäger Barn Bar

Whether you need to rest your tired feet after browsing the stalls or are just stopping by for a few pre-clubbing drinks, the Jäger Barn Bar is the perfect Bristol hangout. In a nod to the traditional German Christmas market, this Bavarian-themed venue features Alpine-inspired décor, with chalet-style stalls and whimsical wooden sculptures. Huddle around a beer-garden table with friends and family as you sip on a reviving glühwein or a comforting hot chocolate. From Thursdays to Sundays, a line-up of musicians set the mood with original songs and Christmas classics, because what’s a festive season without a little bit of Mariah? 

5. Have a go at Bavarian curling

This unusual sport involves gliding curling stones – flattish metal discs attached to a stick – over ice towards a target. No special equipment is required, and it’s not particularly strenuous either, so gather a group of fun-loving friends to see who’s got the best aim and most accurate curling arm. 

Top tip: After your exertions, head to the Jäger Barn Bar for a restorative and well-earned glühwein.

6. Pose for an Insta-worthy pic

No matter where you look, the Bristol Christmas Market is packed with festive photo-ops for you to make a statement to family, friends and followers. Dotted throughout are offbeat installations of Santa – climbing, performing acrobatics or simply welcoming visitors amid a cheery display of gaily wrapped presents and glittery baubles. At the market entrance, Alfred the singing moose ushers you in with a jolly Christmas song, and anchoring the venue is its giant Christmas tree, elegantly trimmed with hundreds of shimmering lights and topped with a dazzling star. You’ll also find spectacular light installations, including a giant gold-and-red bauble and a massive German-inspired Christmas pyramid.     

7. Take a spin on the Christmas carousel

Always a hit with kids (and grown-ups secretly love it too), the carousel takes riders on a gentle, snowy spin in large reindeer-fronted sleighs. Afterwards, treat yourself and your little one to a freshly fried churro, liberally dusted with cinnamon sugar and accompanied by a rich chocolate dip, then pose for a humorous face-in-the-hole holiday shot with the cute snowman statue.  

8. Visit Santa in his grotto

Hoping to see the big man in person? While it’s best to keep an eye on social media channels for the latest updates, he’s usually in situ on weekends, when kids can line up for a chat and a pic. A contingent of green-and-red clad elves – including a giant elf (on stilts) and one who’ll charm kids with twisty balloon animals – also provide entertainment throughout the season. If you visit in December, Santa may be accompanied by some real live reindeer. 

Bristol Christmas Market: Practical info

  • Location: On Broadmead, stretching from Cabot Circus shopping centre to The Galleries 
  • Dates: 3 November 2023 to 23 December 2023 
  • Opening times: Stalls 10am-7pm, food and bar area 10am-10pm

Other festive markets to find unique gifts

While the one on Broadmead is the main Christmas market, Bristol’s other shopping destinations are also well worth a review if you’re staying in the city.

Harbourside Christmas Market: Who can resist the winning combination of holiday cheer and a picturesque waterfront backdrop? Head here to sample street eats with a festive twist – think Christmas burgers and fragrant mince pies – while you browse stalls offering Bristol-made art and crafts.

1 Canon's Rd, BS1 5TX. 

St Nicholas Market: This venerable trading place, first opened in 1743, occupies a Georgian arcade in the old city. Come the holiday season, a line-up of Christmas-themed outdoor markets offer handmade crafts and sizzling street food. But if you’re after a unique experience, the real draw is the indoor market, decorated to the nines with tinsel and lights, and where you’ll find independent retailers selling clothes, books and records. 

Corn Exchange, Old City, BS1 1JQ. 

Bearpit Market: Occupying The Bearpit, a circular city park just north of the shopping quarter, this flea market is a colourful jumble of artisanal crafts, pre-loved goods, organic beauty products and food. It’s fun even for the most reluctant of shoppers because you never know what treasures you might find here!

The Bearpit, St James Barton Roundabout, BS1 3LY. Open every second Sunday of the month, 11am-5pm.  

The Bristol Christmas Market may not be the biggest in the UK, but more than makes up for it in spirit and variety, so grab that comfy pair of walking shoes and get exploring. Happy holidays, and remember to enjoy the festive drinks responsibly!

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