Visiting your local markets is a great way to find original gifts. It is unlikely you will find inspiration from looking through the same shops and online stores over and over if you don’t know what you are looking for. By visiting markets you can see the objects being put to work, you can pick them up, look at them, and talk to the seller about their provenance.
By visiting markets you are not only investing in your local community, but are buying local products and also support British-based sellers, craftsmen and artists. Similarly, why not go along to car-boot sales or flea markets? Children don’t need brand new toys – neither do we, for that matter. You can find toys in perfectly good condition; you may even come across a game with which you used to play with your siblings as a child. Children grow out of clothes and toys at lightning speed; is it worth, therefore, investing in items they are only going to use for a few months at a time?
Many people feel funny about buying second hand. Perhaps they may feel guilty for not buying the item full price, as if how much you spend on someone amounts to their value as a person. Surely the act of finding a perfect gift is more important than buying an expensive meaningless one? However, folk forget that a 1970s dress is second hand, a Victorian dresser is second hand, a Georgian rocking horse is second hand. We just change the tag to Vintage, and the object instantly is more appealing.
So, find out what is going on in your area. You can schedule a day out to bigger markets; arrive early to avoid the crowds of people. These events typically have a website, and they will likely list the name and speciality of stallholders. We’ve put together some of our favourite markets, make sure you tell us which one is your favourite in the comments! That way other community members can discover other events to go to and we can add them to the list next year!
Cambridge Arts and Crafts
“We make what we sell” is what the artists stand for. The go-to place in Cambridgeshire has been going strong for almost 40 years and prides itself for having a wide range of products for sale, from beeswax candles to paintings as well as woodcraft, pottery and leather goods. They want to maintain a uniqueness and variety that is achieved with the over 30 stalls that fill up every weekend.
All Saints Garden
Brighton Craft Fair
The variety, uniqueness and high quality of the items attract over 800 visitors every month. The venue brings together 23 makers and artists from different crafts and backgrounds. In the summer, 10 stall are added outside, allowing more artists to join in on the fun.
Last Saturday of every month
Friends Meeting House
Founded by stylist and personal shopper Faye Marriott, 2010 saw the start of Capital Carboot. This particular event attracts a younger, hipper and more fashion conscious crowd; if you are looking for something in particular which is that tad bit more quirky, you might just find it here.
Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association
Under the tagline “Taking the books to the people”, PBFA has worked with entities such as the Arts Council to bring books to booklovers all over the country. Having recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, the fair offers antiquarian books, second-hand, maps, prints and ephemera.
Check the website for dates and places.
The Scottish capital boasts 20 years of market stalls. It not only brings you amazing food, crafts and artists from Europe, but it also has a Scottish market with Scott brewed craft beer, woodwork and jewellery. As if 2 markets weren’t enough, there is also a Children’s Market; we know!
Look up the market as there will be different opening times on Christmas Eve, Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
European Market and Scottish Market 20th Nov – 4th Jan.
The Mound, East Princes Street, Gardens Terrace and Scott Monument.
This award-winning Christmas market has the feel of a distinctively British market, boasting over 170 chalets. Bask in the aroma of warming mulled wine and freshly baked mince pies, walk around the stalls and find handmade wooden toys, crafted candles, and funky jewellery. Most of the stallholders are businesses are from the city of Bath or the surrounding area.
24th November – 11th December
Streets surrounding Roman Baths and Bath Abbey.
With over 75 stalls and 190 exhibitors formed by mainly small Welsh businesses, this Christmas Market is one of the most exciting ones in the country. It has been organised and run by Craft Folk for 20 years and offers food, drinks, local ceramics, crafted candles and Welsh slate products among many other handmade products.
November 13th – December 23rd
Pedestrianised streets – St John Street, St John’s Church Area, etc.
As a result of the Partnership Agreement with Frankfurt in 1966, Birmingham has hosted a German market for the past 15 years. You will find great music, traditional goods and a selection of tempting food such as pretzels or schnitzel, handcrafted wooden decorations, delicate glass baubles, crystal lamps, leatherworks, toys and jewellery. There is also a craft market offering decorated iron works, wood carvings, toys and imported hand crafts from Africa, India and South America which will fill your eyes with wonder.
17th November – 29th December
Victoria Street and New Street
The Manchester Christmas Market is one of the largest in the country holding close to 350 stalls and located in 10 different spaces around the city which have their own character and atmosphere. The award-winning market combines European and British styles offering food, drink and specialist items such as amber jewellery, handcrafted leather bags, French soaps or Belgian kitchenware. The city is proud of its returnable glasses and mugs initiative, which offers an environmentally friendly deposit scheme resulting in an overall greener experience.
10th November – 20 December
Different locations such as St Ann’s Square, New Cathedral Street, Market Street, Exchange Street, Albert Square…
Which is your favourite market? Let us know in the comments or email us as [email protected]