As Christmas approaches, we’re facing those difficult questions once again; what to buy Grandpa for Christmas, where to find really unusual decorations for the tree and whether it’s possible to purchase a Christmas cake that tastes homemade and could actually fool Aunt Beryl into believing you are a true domestic goddess.
Online shopping is all very well and good, but if you’re looking for a seasonal something that doesn’t pop up in an Amazon search, a Christmas market is a great place to visit. There are plenty of options, both in the UK and abroad.
A pre-Christmas trip to a market in Europe is a lovely way to get into the festive mood. Cologne’s Christmas market is in the heart of the old town, near the cathedral, so you can breathe in the history and culture as you browse the wooden stalls. In Prague there are markets in Wenceslas Square and the Old Town Square, with decorated wooden huts selling all manner of festive items. Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt includes lots of stalls selling warming local food, such as sweet chestnuts and waffles. And in Paris, the colourful stalls and Gallic bonhomie will surely stir up the Christmas spirit.
Over recent years, towns and cities across the UK have responded to the British interest in European markets by developing bigger and better home-grown Christmas markets, so you can jump on a coach or train and have a great day out. From Edinburgh to Lincoln via Gloucester, traders are displaying their wares and brightening up city centres as the Christmas lights turn on. Some markets are themed – like Truro’s Victorian and Harrogate’s Yorkshire-themed events. And Carlisle is playing Europe at its own game - with its own Continental market!
In London, there’s a wide choice, of course. Fortnum & Mason has an Artisan market, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland includes a huge market and Clapham is holding a ‘green and ethical’ Christmas market. Again, if you want the European experience without leaving our shores, the Southbank has a Cologne market that includes the same wooden stalls you’d see if you visited the city itself.
Smaller markets may also be the perfect place to find that elusive gift for Grandpa. At Wimbledon’s market you’ll find olives, knitwear, jewellery, pashminas, chocolates and much more – including Cakeology, selling, wait for it, Christmas cakes. Perhaps, finally, a chance to offer a slice of ‘homemade’ Christmas cake with a confident smile on your face.
This year's Wimbledon Christmas Market will take place on the Piazza in Wimbledon Town Centre and will run for nine days from 8th to 16th December 2012. Click HERE for more information
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