What better way to ring the chimes of Yuletide spirit than immersing yourself in the aroma of softly spiced mulled wine, freshly cooked bratwurst and meandering around a twinkling Christmas market? As cascades of tinsel fall from our cobwebbed cupboards and attics, December has finally arrived, the first window of your advent calendar has been unlocked, and it’s now time to adorn that festive morale. Whether you are attempting to find early quirky original Christmas presents from independent Newcastle makers, or you are simply there to indulge your Christmas appetite can the North East markets match up to the likes of Edinburgh, Manchester, Bath or York? Is it worth braving the chill, is there really anything other than food on offer, and is it worth travelling outside the Geordie realm to satisfy that seasonal yearn?
Boots turkey and cranberry sandwiches and red Starbucks cups have finally arrived in store and most importantly the perfectly Northern cuisine: festive bakes at Greggs have reached the counter. The Newcastle International Christmas Market has once again taken up residence next to Greys Monument, which will run from Friday November 18th till Sunday December 11th. Open from 9am till 9pm on weekends the Newcastle International Christmas Market has a variety of foods to tickle your taste buds, from German currywurst to Australian Kangeroo burgers, Belgian waffles to French crepes. There is also the opportunity to buy Christmas tree decorations, outside seasonal ornaments, Russian fur hats, and sweet treats that can be disguised as Christmas gifts (or eat them yourself- we won’t judge!)
Whilst boasting a wide variety of culinary delights the Newcastle International Christmas Market does not quite reach the heights of Edinburgh, Manchester, York or Bath. With local charm the market creates an obvious festive attraction however it is possibly not the most extensive you will find. Edinburgh instead holds six weeks worth of light shows, fireworks, funfairs and a large outdoor ice rink. Split into two markets, the first is the European Christmas market in East Princes St Gardens, it holds traditional wooden stalls selling classic seasonal goods, and second is the Scottish market in West George Street that exhibits a patriotic display of some of the best goods that Scotland has to offer. With the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and the genuine possibility of a white Christmas, what more could you wish for on these bitterly cold evenings?
Over 200 miles away, with over 200 stalls the Manchester Christmas market won the “Best Market Attraction 2010”. Having attracted over 900,000 visitors and set with the backdrop of the Old Wellington: a periodic Tudor public house, Manchester will certainly satisfy the Christmas market craving you have had since Michael Buble’s Christmas album was played back in September. However if you really are sick of the humdrum, and wish to experience an authentic original Christkindlmark, the English equivalent simply cannot beat the magical seasonal cheer of Frankfurt, Cologne and Munich.