The last few years I have decided to escape my Birthday by being abroad but as we went away earlier this year, I missed out on our normal Christmas market crawl. To make up for it I have spent the last two weekends touring nearby UK markets and alongside Leeds Christmas market I have taken in Knaresborough, Manchester and Skipton.
I love the festive season and everything that comes with it (except traditional foods) but rarely purchase anything other than snacks and mulled wine when shuffling around markets. Each year my family send individual Christmas lists to each other and there's seldom anything on there I'm likely to find in any of the markets I visit.
This year's lists include an array of toiletries I'll have to raid Wilkinsons for and some exceedingly specific items like “jigsaw puzzles with no sky and lots of interest” and “silk ties with little animals on them”. For the first time I can remember, I actually bought a few gifts from Knaresborough market and have decided it's definitely my favourite. I'm not knocking markets imitating traditional German ones but it was a refreshing change to find wholly unpredictable items for sale. Being a smaller market with only a two day lifespan, it also had a really festive vibe with lots of friendly and enthusiastic stall holders.
Lincoln market is the only other market I'd previously been to that despite having German roots, felt pretty British. Although I enjoyed Lincoln's sprawling stalls, its one-way system and tannoy announcing the market's imminent closure made it feel far less friendly than Knaresborough. Skipton's market also felt more low-key and had an array of festive local entertainment but many of the stalls were clearly regulars to the town's weekly market. Manchester is another biggie with many repeat stalls so this year's winner is Knaresborough hands down. Although, Manchester did bring the number of random cheeses I have purchased up to a whopping ten. Looking forward to tasting the madras curry cheese, Norwegian Gjetost, chilli & lime cheddar... But that's another entry...