Forget crowded shopping centers with overpriced products - with atmospheric stalls full of lanterns, handcrafted gifts and gluhwein, Christmas markets put the real magic into the Christmas season.
Century old Christmas markets have been held in Germany since the late middle ages, Dresden’s Strietzel being the first in 1434, shortly followed by Munich in 1310 and Frankfurt in 1393. Reaching back to a time when many towns and villages welcomed Advent with the opening of their local market.
During the Winter months villagers would get together in order to bring some light to the cold, dark winter nights and buy items from local traders to exchange as gifts with loved ones. Despite the widespread belief that Christmas has only recently developed into a feast of commercialism, it may be a surprise to find out that, as early as the 17th century, gift-buying at Christmas markets had already become a main pre-holiday activity.
Today, German Christmas markets serve much the same function as they have for centuries before - as a festival meeting place for locals and a market for ornaments and decorations. Roasting chestnuts and spicy gingerbread, carols around a hot glühwein (a beverage made with red wine and spices typically served hot) seem like the perfect way to wrap up and finish getting your last minute bits and bobs. Pitched in historic or popular settings, nothing brings the Christmassy atmosphere to the UK more than the German markets. Some of the most traditional German handicrafts can be found here in the weeks before Christmas - from nutcrackers, wooden figurines to cookie tins, glass balls and tree ornaments.
At BagWise, we’ve put together a selection of the best Christmas markets in the UK, 2013...
1. Angels Christmas Market At Winter Wonderland, London - Hyde Park
November 23rd - 5th January
Expect to see wooden chalets, and Bavarian-style bars offering an array of festive gifts and edible treats alongside fairground rides.
2. Christmas Market, Manchester - Ann’s Square
Friday 15th November - Sunday 22nd December 2013
Spread across the city centre, the Christmas Markets are all located within a quarter of a mile (500m) and accessible to all.For the full Christmas Markets experience (and to beat the Albert Square crowds), follow their trail around the city to take in what each different site has to offer.
3. Bath Christmas Market - Bath City Center, between Bath Abbey and Roman Baths
Thursday 28th November - Sunday 15th December
In the heart of Bath's main shopping district, more than 150 traditional wooden chalets adorn the streets; each one offering unique, handmade and unusual gifts, decorations and food items - everything you will need for the perfect Christmas celebration.
4. Christmas Market, Cardiff -St John Street
Thursday 14th November - Monday 23rd December
Cardiff Christmas Market is set in the heart of the pedestrian area of Cardiff City Centre in the Hayes, Trinity Street, Working Street and St John's Church. A must see market where a real passion for tradition sometimes comes with a modern twist!
5. Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market -Victoria Square, New Street, Centenary Square & Chamberlain Square
14th November - 22nd December
Enjoy the delights of German mulled wine, grilled sausages, vegetarian options, pretzels, German beer and for those with a sweet tooth, gingerbread, crepes and marzipan sweets.
6. Edinburgh Christmas Market - Mound Precinct & East Princess Street Gardens
22nd November - 5th January
The Traditional and romantic Christmas Market in the heart of the City of Edinburgh offers a unique shopping experience for every visitor with it’s fair of various crafters, artists, gift shops and gastronomic surprises.
7. Glasgow Christmas Market - St Enoch Square
15th November - 23rd December
We will be hosting a great continental markets with a range of traders supplying the Christmas Shopper with a wide variety of goods such as ostrich burgers, fair trade instruments, Chinese gifts, Christmas Crafts, coffees, confectionery, Mulled wine, Paella, clothing and many more items!
8. Leeds Christmas Market - Millennium Square
8th November - 18th December
The market consists of over 40 wooden chalet stalls from authentic German traders providing a wide range of seasonal gift ideas for everyone including; handcrafted toys, jewellery, Christmas cards and festive decorations, speciality foods and traditional German delicacies such as gluhwein, bratwurst sausages, goulash, soups, schnitzels, stollen, gingerbread and candied fruits.
Before hitting these infamous Christmas markets make sure you have the perfect bag with you to fit in all your presents. Check out the aunts&uncles Conehead leather backpack and keep your hands free for the Gluhwein!