If you’re feeling a little more Bah Humbug than I wish it could be Christmas Everyday and want to partake in a soup-son of the Christmas Spirit – we don’t condone drinking too much Christmas Spirit, everything in moderation please. Well, we’ve gathered together our collective knowledge at Clothes-make-the-man of Christmas Markets and rather then you waste your time going to some dank, miserable half hearted affair where Santa stinks of a cocktail of moth balls and Vodka and the Christmas Products on sale amount to a knitted Nativity scene and toilet roll Snowmen, we’ve got a selection of the best around.
Yes Manchester, although the holder of the crown for traditional Shopping mecca of the North of the UK; Manchester also has a rip roaring Christmas Market thats up there with pretty much the best around. It’s been running a Germany Style Christmas Market since 1999 and although starting off in very modest terms taking up St Ann’s Square over the years it has continued to grow in both size and popularity. Only last weekend it had a recording breaking 85,000 attendees in the Albert Square market alone and the stalls, entertainment and general Christmassness stretches pretty much throughout the City Centre now taking in not only Albert Square but the new Spinfields Shopping area (with an ice rink), St Anne’s Square through to the Triangle past Harvey Nichols and Selfridges and then right up Market St and into the revamped Piccadilly Gardens, phew. Traders from as far away as Lapland and Transylvania have come to the city to run more than 300 stalls, selling everything from Traditional Continental Christmas Decorations and food tasting to Madchester Memorabilia and it runs right up to 23rd December.
Edinburgh next, yes moving up a little further North of the border, explore Edinburgh’s renowned German Christmas Market for unusual gift ideas such as handmade decorations and unique craft items. Warm up with a mug of Glühwein, red wine that is heated with cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, citrus and sugar and try some traditional German fare including biscuits, sweets and venison burgers. Right up until Christmas Eve Edinburgh has events occurring including the Great Santa Run on the 9th down West Princes Street Gardens to the Ethical Christmas Fair from 8th on Castle Street.
On to the Capital of the UK, London, where you’re rather spoilt for choice, but we’re concentrating mainly on the Southbank’s Christmas Market. Firstly, whatever you do DON’T Drive in, take Public transport, with Waterloo, Blackfriars, Embankment, even Covent Garden tube stations all very accessible to it and countless bus routes don’t bring the car ! This market is still the new kid on the block when it comes to Christmas Markets, but what it lacks in age it more then makes up for in attracting crowds. It stretches along the South bank of the Thames from Borough Market down at London Bridge right the way along to past the London Eye and along to the Houses of Parliament. 80 authentically decorated wooden chalets will sell you a whole host of Christmassy products all offered in a magical winter atmosphere.
Now, we couldn’t do Christmas Markets without mentioning Winter Wonderland. Think if Disney were to do a Christmas theme park, independent of its own Theme parks of course, then that’s Winter Wonderland. Housed within Hyde Park so close to Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Victoria and Marble Arch tube stations. This Christmas Wonderland not only includes a Christmas Market, not a great one, please tell me who would want to buy a wooden tie or a CND symbol wind chime ???? but it does have a Yuletide themed Fairground, a Zippo Circus, an ICE AGE 4(the film) Ice rink and An Ice Kingdom (the clue is in the name). Plus I have a couple of pieces of advice which are specifically for Winter Wonderland, but can equally be for all the other locations. I have to say firstly, Winter Wonderland is brilliant ! but –
1) Either go early, i.e. 10am when it opens or 7pm ish (it closes at 10pm), it is even more magical in the dark I have to say & the mulled wine seems to go down better than 10 in the morning. Now the reason for this pearl of wisdom is, IT GETS HORRENDOUSLY busy, every day of the week.
2) Go to a cash machine before you get there, although they have introduced more cash machines within the park this year, still go to go beforehand, trust me.
3) Its lovely to taste festive cuisines from around the world, well mainly Germany, but if your hungry you don’t wanna be queuing for the best part of 45 minutes for essentially a hot dog and charged, lets just say, inflated prices. There are literally hundreds of restaurants near to Hyde Park, The Worsley(one of the best Restaurants in London) is near Green Park Station, to Ask, La Tasca, Pizza Express, McDonalds (even) and lots of pubs near to Victoria Station. Ohh and by the way its here until the last day of Christmas 6th January.
Last, but by no means least is the Daddy or even Grandaddy of Christmas Markets, Bath. Located in the heart of the City close to the Roman Baths and the famous Pump rooms(good idea for a spot of Christmas lunch or afternoon tea, how civilised). The market consists of over 140 individual wooden chalet style stalls, each one offering quality products and brilliant gift ideas. From handmade crafts, unique jewellery pieces and decorations, to locally produced food and drink, you will find it easy to find that special ingredient for the most memorable and treasured gifts. However, get your skates on if your fancy a bit of Bath as their Christmas market only runs til 9th December(I have no idea why).