markets & market towns
East of England
Christmas as we all know is a wonderful time of year, and as the November and December nights draw in, this is when Christmas Markets spring up all over the UK.
The tradition of Christmas Markets is a popular one which dates back many centuries. They were particularly popular during the Victorian era where Christmas related products and foodstuffs would be sold in the run-up to Christmas but they were not known as Christmas Markets.
Going back further Christmas Markets were very popular across Britain up until Oliver Cromwell banned the celebration of Christmas and other holy days by parliament in the 1640s. This inevitably affected the Christmas markets which died out instantly and it was only when the monarchy was restored in 1660, following the death of Cromwell two years earlier, that such traditions began to be re-established.
Christmas markets actually date from the Middle Ages from German-speaking European countries, with Vienna’s December market being held in 1294. Although the earliest known market taking place at that time of year, it wasn’t a Christmas-themed market as such. That honour belongs to Munich’s market which began in 1310 and is believed to be the first proper Christmas market. Frankfurt’s own Christmas market is first mentioned in 1393.
There were many markets in Britain during the Victorian era which would sell Christmas related products and foodstuffs in the run-up to Christmas but they were not known as Christmas Markets, or certainly as those we know, visit and love today.
The city of Lincoln first brought the traditional European-style Christmas market to Britain as part of its twinning with Neustadt in Germany. Lincoln Christmas Market actually began though in 1982 with just 11 stalls in Castle Square, and now takes over most of the cultural quarter for four days with more than 250 stalls.
Birmingham was the first UK town or city to have a Frankfurt Christmas Market, which now spans a six week period mainly in the run-up to Christmas and just after.
Today’s Christmas Markets in the UK often have a strong continental theme and flavour to them, attracting French, German or Italian traders to traditional German markets in the likes of Birmingham, Bournemouth, Leeds, London, Glasgow and Oxford. However the Victorian theme of a bygone age is equally very popular concept for many other towns and cities which many visitors and shoppers are drawn to and enjoy
What can be better than strolling through the cobbled streets that are decked out in beautiful twinkling coloured lights and decorations, tucking into some festive nibbles and drinks, with festive music in the background as you search for that special present.
Christmas Markets can also be found in all sorts of venues ranging from city and town centres to visitor attractions and stately homes. Many take place over a weekend or a series of weekends, whilst others can last for anything up to six weeks or longer.
No matter how long the duration, you will not only enjoy a great festive atmosphere but get to explore and buy a host of great gifts and ideas on offer for that special something for someone special. And of course it goes without saying there is plenty of opportunity to sample mince pies, roasted chestnuts and doughnuts, as well as the more continental offerings such as waffles, gingerbread, beers, ales and ciders, and of course some excellent mulled wine.