Christmas markets - am I the Grinch?

(97 Posts)
MrsCampbellBlack Sat 24-Nov-12 15:15:00

My local town is in the middle of christmas market season - oh so jolly. Or in my opinion a load of overpriced tat blocking the streets.

So am I the grinch or do others loathe them too?

YANBU. Nobody needs any of that stuff anyway. It's all in the way and the food stalls are just ewww. smile

MardyBra Sat 24-Nov-12 15:17:48

They always look so lovely and there's always a lovely aroma of mulled wine. I go along with high hopes of finding some nice gifts and it's always a load of overpriced tat.

Ooh forgot the hot wine and roasted chestnuts. Bleurgh.

I love wandering through the Christmas Street markets and rarely buy anything! grin, but I lap up the atmosphere.

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 24-Nov-12 15:20:15

Oh good - I'm not the only one. There's one stall selling wooden ties - I kid you not. I pity the poor sod who has that to open on christmas morning.

I always have a firm grip on my handbag and purse in those sort of places too. sad

WorraLiberty Sat 24-Nov-12 15:21:36

I love the Christmas market in theory cos I think it's going to make me feel all nice and Christmassy.

In reality it's rows and rows of home made over priced 'jewellery'/ photos frames with beads stuck on... made by bored looking women.

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 24-Nov-12 15:23:22

Yes rather like a Mary Howard Christmas Fair - lots of posh women with their posh hobby companies.

Full of festive spirit me.

Autumnalis Sat 24-Nov-12 15:23:36

I spent about 5 minutes today in our local one. Handmade clay gnomes. The jewellery looked pretty.

bradywasmyfavouriteking Sat 24-Nov-12 15:23:57

I have been to some that are good.

The one in our city at the moment is shit. Its call a 'victorian market'. There is nothing victorian at all the only decent stall was a stall where you can get hand carved things like stools and rocking horses.

Everything else is tat that people are trying to pass off as 'home made' the food is either tapa, 'cuban street food' or pies.

Not really victorian.

Its pointless.

RedGreenRouge Sat 24-Nov-12 15:24:35

In the past, I was always really disappointed because I could never find anything to buy. Last year, I went with no intention of shopping and just looked around and drank mulled wine. It made me very Christmassy.

PrincessOfChina Sat 24-Nov-12 15:25:52

Full of tat with lukewarm Gluhwine. No thanks.

I usually insist on heading to a nice pub after 5 minutes or so.

MerryCunnyFuntingChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 15:29:11

I'm spending the day at ours tomorrow helping out with the local greyhound rescue stall.

I'll let you know tomorrow evening whether or not you are yabu or not grin

UrbanSpaceManBaby Sat 24-Nov-12 15:29:19

I always feel Grinch like for wandering through the proliferation of sheds with a firm grip on my hand bag and rarely a purchase.

Wooden tie?
Over priced itchy knitted kids clothes?
Paint by numbers artistic en-devours of the middle classes?

No thanks, 85% Amazon this year with smattering of NotOnTheHighStreet.

But I do need a cheap shed.....

I like them because they brighten up the city centre but I no longer buy anything from them after paying £5 for two chocolate covered strawberries on a stick.

TeeHollyandTeeIvy Sat 24-Nov-12 15:29:53

Ours is lovely and on the lawn at City Hall, so not blocking anything.

I'm in Belfast. I especially like looking the tat things brought by the nuns.


This is what I have to look forward to next Thursday. The sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. I have promised DS2. It will be torturous and Victorian apparently..........

That wasn't Liverpool was it Tess. Because DS2 had the same, wobbling round with a big skewer and a paper plate covered in chocolate. grin

No, it was Manchester Sparkling but I think they are all just one big company. That's why you can take the gluhwein mugs back to any stall to get your deposit back.

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 15:33:59

They all seem to sell the same stuff! Wolly hats and gloves made in Nepal, hand made soaps made god knows where, a sweet stall with rip off priced confectionary jewellery, those silly muppet hats, hot dog stands, mulled 'wine' and roast chestnut stands etc. Do the same companies have one in every city? confused I do like them, I want a bit of individuality though.

Nothing says Christmas like a skewered Strawberry Tess. grin

Clearly all the Victorians were walking around with them grin

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 15:36:57

And toffee apples, Sparkling. confused

MrsDeVere Sat 24-Nov-12 15:38:01

I like the idea of homemade clay Gnomes...

Oh yes Lady. Ye olde Christmas Toffee Apple. And perhaps Ye olde Christmas Hot Dog to start. confused

EllenParsons Sat 24-Nov-12 15:41:03

YABU and a bit grinchy! I agree there is a lot of tat on sale there but somehow I still love the atmosphere in these places. Love a bit of gluehwein too. I used to live in Vienna and make my way round loads of different ones every year as they have about a million... I am in london now and haven't even seen any yet though!

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 15:41:55

Homemade in China? confused

You can buy a small orange garland for £12 here. hmm I do like them, they are selling the same tat stuff as they did last year though, so I'm very bored now. It's like groundhog Christmas!

I would imagine one in Vienna wouldn't have Hot Dogs Ellen and would be lovely. grin What is gluehwein? Would I like it?

TeeHollyandTeeIvy Sat 24-Nov-12 15:43:02

We do not have chocolate dipped strawberries at ours, I'm very disappointed.

We do have a lovely French Patisserie with a lady who says 'Merci Madame!' when I buy my hundreds of chocolate tarts.

Stop being all grinchy and go to this one Birmingham

chocolateistheenemy Sat 24-Nov-12 15:43:23

DH got a wooden tie from his DPs for Christmas a couple of years ago. And fuck all else
It is as shit as it sounds, and then some.
I love the markets though. I hope to pick up something really special for the ILs grin

Crepes. There's always crepes. Is that Christmassy?

I live ours because the Germans come over and bring their beer, sausages, enormous round barbecue (6ft wide) which dangles on a chain and a huge stags head.

The rest of it makes me feel Christmassy, while actually being full of expensive tat, but that's ok as I have no intention of buying anything!

I do like them but I would like to see proper craft stalls and a farmers market.

The nutella pancakes are not bad though grin

Oh no. Birmingham and a Christmas Market both together. sad

EllenParsons Sat 24-Nov-12 15:45:03

Sparkling, they do still have plenty of hot dogs in Vienna, usually greasier than the ones here but they never serve you "tinned" type hot dogs at least. Gluehwein is mulled wine, sorry I don't know why I didn't just write that in the first place!

Oh, and have been to the ones in Bruges and Prague. They are exactly the same.

Tee I will send you some chocolate covered strawberries grin

shock at Hot Dogs in Vienna Ellen.

Flossiechops Sat 24-Nov-12 15:46:12

Yanbu. Birmingham german market was there last week same over priced tat year in year out. Lovely to look at though especially for the kids but there's nothing to buy!

FromEsme Sat 24-Nov-12 15:48:05

All the stuff in them is the same every year and in every town. They are rubbish.

I do like Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus, however. And mulled wine.

But yes, there are about a million in Birmingham and you can't get over the main square any more, so I missed my bus.


TeeHollyandTeeIvy Sat 24-Nov-12 15:48:40

Thanks Tess!

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 15:48:58

There's a hanging BBQ here as well, would you believe it? grin The cremated the sausages last week though, and there's nothing German about them.

Remember this? Armstrong and Miller's take on Farmer's markets? It's much the same idea. grin

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 24-Nov-12 15:55:06

Loving the idea of a special present for the in-laws smile I like mine though so can't even do that.

Am shocked at many of the stalls all being owned by the same company shock

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 15:55:26

I like farmers markets; cheese, fresh meat, bread, cakes. How am I to make this last a month until the next one though? confused I prefer these to the bloody Christmas ones. I do need some warm gloves though...

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 15:56:53

They must rake it in, MrsCampbell. Everything's so expensive. £3 for 1 stick of 5 strawberries dipped in chocolate (they saw ds coming and rubbed their hands with glee!) sad

I've been working opposite the Christmas Markets this week (they didn't look so festive in the rain sad) and I think I spied a christmas tree shaped pile of marshmallows on a stick covered in chocolate.

I don't remember them last year so it would be interesting if we did a little MN survey to see if they appear in other cities - thus proving they are all connected. grin

I go to our local one every year, third biggest in the uk apparently, moan about the prices, get stressed by the crowds, and wonder why I went. There are some real gems amongst the tat, But I can't bear to miss it <twat> I'm 36wks pregnant and still I've got this maad urge to go tomorrow.

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 16:09:34

You also need to describe what they are selling.


Sweet stall with overpriced strawberries on a stick, fudge, toffee apples, hot chocolate, candyfloss etc.

Jewellery with glass

Sausages (they are clearly not German!)

Gloves and novelty hats (sesame street etc)
Another gloves and novelty hats

Some wooden shit with slogans on them

Potato and bacon stand

Overpriced house tat (dried orange garlands, norse christmas decorations)

Carousel (pretty!)

A couple of pork roast stalls

Cake stalls

Stinky bath product stalls

A stall selling tacky lights for your house (cheaper on the local market), flowers etc.

A couple of hot chocolate stalls.

I can't remember any more.

Manchester - all of the above plus a stall that sells ornaments made out of nuts and bolts.

Crepe stall

Paella stall

lots and lots of gluehwein stalls/huts which get a bit rowdy nearer to Christmas when the office workers take up residence.

I like Winchester, it's the only one I have ever been to. Lovely atmosphere in the cathedral close with an ice rink in the middle, the farmers market is separate and keeps going in Dec. Parking a nightmare on weekends in Dec though.

Yanbu. People get v excited about the Birmingham one but it does little for me. I'm veggie so the 'giant German sausages' are no good for me; I don't like doughnuts much and the gingerbread is all too sweet and covered in nasty icing. I don't want an itchy hat, a carved figure of the Nutcracker or a giant piece of rock with a light in the middle of it and I hate crowds and mulled wine.

I liked the Prague one for yummy huge hot bread things with either garlic butter or Nutella type spread. And Prague is so much prettier than Birmingham too.

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 16:21:43

Oh, I missed the Paella stall off my list. There's one of those as well. It's clone Christmas villages. sad It goes with the clone shops like Debenhams, Next, M&S... sad

Startail Sat 24-Nov-12 16:31:58

A bit of a grinch,I love the idea of Christmas Markets and had lovely trip to a real German one.

Howerver the on in Brum is hell on earth with DCs to keep track of and has very few of the amazing decorations. There is a lot of the aforementioned tat.

LadyMaryChristmas Sat 24-Nov-12 16:34:44

There's a Christmas decoration shop in St Pancras. Most of it can be bought in the pound shop, thus saving lots!

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Sat 24-Nov-12 16:40:05

I like the one in Stockholm because it's at the zoo grin There's also a beautiful waterfall of lights.

Generally though I only like them for the chestnuts.

ENormaSnob Sat 24-Nov-12 16:46:43

We go to the Manchester one.

I like the food, drink and the atmosphere.

Can live without the overpriced tat.

Although I did purchase a dead scorpian in a keyring last year.

StepAwayFromTheEcclesCakes Sat 24-Nov-12 16:54:39

Theres one in Bath where a man sells lovely unusual candles.

natwebb79 Sat 24-Nov-12 17:00:55

Just wasted a day in Bury St Edmunds looking for non existent parking, trudging round overcrowded stalls and now hungry as the usual chain eateries were only taking booked groups. YANBU.

natwebb79 Sat 24-Nov-12 17:01:30

However I live the ones in Germany and Strasbourg grin

natwebb79 Sat 24-Nov-12 17:01:45

Love, not live!

Millais Sat 24-Nov-12 17:17:20

Is the one in Winchester worth a weekend visit and stay over night? I need to feel Christmassy

I like it, Winchester is a nice city to potter around in anyway, lots of nice individual shops, the cathedral, lots of restaurants and cafes. The market is tucked away in the cathedral close, which is only a couple of mins walk from the high street but totally separate, it has lots of stalls round the ice rink. It does get very busy at weekends though, so an overnight visit and get to the market early, take in the rest later on might be a good idea. Also very atmospheric once it gets dark, so popping back again late in the day is also a good idea. The skating gets pretty booked up. Have a look at the website


cinnamonnut Sat 24-Nov-12 17:53:11

I like the manchester one blush

TiggyD Sat 24-Nov-12 18:51:10

I'm going to be going to the Winchester one. Unfortunately nobody I know would want to go on the ice rink with me. Being a 30 year old male, If I did it on my own I'd get very funny looks, people would snatch their children away, and I'd end up on Santa's bad register. sad
I might go to Southampton too and they've got one. I'll also be off to the Hyde park one when that opens.
The atmosphere gets me in a Christmassy mood and makes me feel full of love and peace. A bit crowded, but being tall I kind of escape it. People under 5'4" are perfectly easy to walk over so I ignore them.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Sat 24-Nov-12 18:52:31

Christmas markets are the biggest anti climax of my lifetime.

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 24-Nov-12 19:06:45

Santa's bad register has made me laugh TiggyD smile

The Bath one is my local one - am intrigued by unusual candles - I like Diptyque normally or the White co at a push - would these compare I wonder.

bondigidum Sat 24-Nov-12 19:26:58

Some are really disappointing like the Leeds one but the Manchester one is fab. I love the atmosphere and the smells.

But I agree, there's some cute stuff but all way overpriced. Does get me in the spirit though.

Adversecamber Sat 24-Nov-12 19:33:47

The village down the road from me is having a Dickensian Christmas market, poke bonnets the lot. Not sure if they will be totally historically accurate and have street urchin artful dodger types.

UniS Sat 24-Nov-12 19:35:45


I have to work at 3 of them in December... If it weren't for the money I'd have run a mile. I have now refused to work another ( different town, considerable travel).

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Sat 24-Nov-12 19:40:30

What about the Christmas markets abroad? Germany? Belgium?

I grew up in South Africa and now live in England but I am DYING to go to a German Xmas market... or should I not bother?

UniS Sat 24-Nov-12 19:47:55

Even in Germany teh markets can be a bit hit or miss. I've been to a great one, Darmstadt, and a not so great one , large city, in the same weekend.

Darrmstadt is moderate size town, the market had a stalls bit and a fun fair bit all in the old town square. Carol singers, and art exhibition, ommpa band, lots of greasy food options and stall selling tat.
The big city one seemed to be row after row of idetikit stall selling indekit tat and sweets and fast food. Laid out down the middle of a modern pedestrian shopping street.

WelshMaenad Sat 24-Nov-12 19:51:49

The Cardiff one is usually lovely (and in a pedestrianised area anyway do not really in the way) but I've not checked out this year's offering yet.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Sat 24-Nov-12 20:00:18

Ah, well, perhaps it is just as well that my passport has expired and I cannot go this year, anyway!

echt Sat 24-Nov-12 20:01:00

They don't really do Christmas markets in Australia, though farmers' markets of the Armstrong and Miller type abound.

We went to a Spanish festival in Melbourne last weekend which consisted a vey long street, 95% of which was food to go, admittedly of a Latin kind; Mexican, Spanish, Brazilian; and a small stage. Boilingly hot and crowded as hell.

The year before, a French festival which consisted almost entirely of wine sellers and property developers.

Only the Greek and Indian festivals have an authentic edge here.

Having lived in Aachen for a year, pre-Euro when gluhwein was about 30p a glass, I am annually disappointed by the British efforts. SO overpriced, and not actually stocking anything I couldn't buy from a catalogue.

StepAwayFromTheEcclesCakes Sat 24-Nov-12 21:31:52

the candles are unusual in shape and design don't think they are scented. Its a guy from a place called the wax studio.

givemeaclue Sat 24-Nov-12 23:17:33

German sausage

MathsCat Sat 24-Nov-12 23:46:38

I refuse to go to the Brum one on a Saturday! Met a friend there last Sunday for a drink, the beer stall not too busy and the lights got me feeling Christmas-y the amaretto helped Otoh it makes it even more of a pain to be in the city centre at weekend, as if it needed making any busier near Christmas!

Startail Sun 25-Nov-12 00:13:44

One Saturday last year the Birmingham one caused a people jam from Centenary square, through the central library arcade, through Chamberlain square, where we were forced to stop for spiced alcoholic refreshment and all the way down New street.

Unfortunately we were parked the far side of centenary square so we had to return through the chaos as well.

It is very Christmasy and fun, but I wish a few less people thought so to.
it is this busy, everywhere

Although I do apologise to Brum for the subject of the piece. I have spent a lot of time in central Birmingham and never had anything stolen or any trouble what so ever.

The toe rag who stole my bag of a desk at the university is another matter.

Startail Sun 25-Nov-12 00:16:48
ZebraOwl Sun 25-Nov-12 00:22:04

YANBU - although Actual Proper Christmas Markets in the places that know how to do them properly (so mostly in Germany!) are splendid grin

PimpMyHippo Sun 25-Nov-12 00:23:28

I used to like the idea of Christmas markets until I lived in Winchester for a while... trying to quickly "nip" to Sainsbury's for some emergency milk while the streets are crammed with people wrapped up in scarves and shuffling like unbearably slow zombies... <rages quietly>

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 25-Nov-12 00:30:44

When I went to the one in Bruges they had grapes dipped in bright red toffee - they were lush!! Has anyone seen those in the UK?

Does anyone have a recipe for the bright red toffee (not ordinary toffee with colouring).

SuffolkNWhat Sun 25-Nov-12 09:50:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Kundry Sun 25-Nov-12 10:54:53

You are so not the grinch. When my DP (now DH) moved to Germany last December I thought aha, perfect opportunity to visit him and see one of the famed Christmas markets - his town is supposed to have one of the best.

What a complete disappointment. We went to 4 of them and while one was clearly the best, the bar was very very low. Stalls selling overpriced tat (we still regret not buying the 1000 euro Swarovski crystal mecchano Eiffel tower), rubbish decoration, an appalling puppet display - so disappointing. Yes there were sausages and Gluhwein and other sorts of heated alcohol, if you wanted to pay the ridiculous prices.

It was also freezing cold. By the time we got back to the flat I nearly had frostbite. And while we were in bed 'warming up' his landlady let herself in without knocking shock

OK the last bit isn't the fault of the market but it was still mystifying why anyone would think they are good.

BionicEmu Sun 25-Nov-12 12:46:14

We went to the Christmas market in Birmingham last year - never again!

The layout was ridiculous. As you went further along the stalls on either side got closer together, creating a funnel where you just couldn't physically move. I spent an inordinate amount of time just standing there, in the middle of the path, just waiting for people 20 yards ahead to move so the rest of the crowd could move. They didn't even seem to have much worth buying anyway.

However, a few years ago I lived in Cardiff, and they used to have the most amazing Christmas Craft Market. I.don't know if its still there, but there were blacksmiths, woodworkers and all sorts. I used to get loads of present shopping done there in an hour or so!

whois Sun 25-Nov-12 13:56:05


I loved mulled wine and all the food stalls :-)

ArtVandelay Sun 25-Nov-12 14:24:15

I'm really surprised by how good our market is here because it's just a boring industrial city in NRW and having come from Bavaria, where Xmas market is like religion, I thought it wouldn't be as good. Went last night with DH and got a bit p*ssed having nearly died of fright on the ferris wheel. It's certainly an expensive night out though and I rarely buy stuff apart from glass tree ornaments if there is something funny like a corncob or a crocodile. It was very romantic though and we had a lot of fun. So yes, you are a little bit grinchy smile

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Sun 25-Nov-12 15:04:19

YABU I love them. As a market I love christmas markets. We do loads and make a fortune for my boss!
It's great fun, I cant sell cheese and pies fast enough, and people are cheerful.
There are grinches out there, but they're generally fun for their entertainment value!
Yes, it's a pie, yes, it's £3. Yes, you can get 2 for £1 in Sainsburys. But, those won't be hand made with proper hot water pastry, the meat wont be free range or wild caught, and they definitely won't taste like this!
I buy lots of things from the markets that I work on. It's usually lovely stuff. And I get traders rates!

Saggy I would love for you to sell your cheese and pies on our market instead of the chocolate covered strawberries on a stick

AnnaRack Sun 25-Nov-12 17:04:10

Sparklingbrook I love that Armstrong & Miller sketch! grin

DS1 likes to sing the song when he sees the Farmers' Market in town Anna something about crap in a basket. grin

evilhamster Sun 25-Nov-12 17:57:18


I love Christmas markets!

We go to the Cardiff one sometimes, although it's quite far away. Whenever we're in Reyjavik (where I'm from) or Stockholm (where we go because DB lives there) they have lovely christmas markets, with beautiful handmade things, food, some music but not much, nothing cheap or tacky really.

I love everything Christmassy!

<starts singing carols>

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