Some people have their Christmas trees up and we’ve all listened to the boasts of friends who’ve finished their present shopping in August. But what better way to show all those early birds what the festive season is really about than by getting into the Christmas spirit at the Belfast Christmas Market.
With the festive season almost upon us, Market Place, the company that brings the market to Belfast, are preparing the twinkly lights, ready for another year of continental and local food, drink and craft celebrations at Belfast City Hall.
This year Belfast Christmas Market winner of the ‘UK Best Large Specialist Market 2015’ award returns from Saturday 14 November until Sunday 20 December where a festive village of over 90 wooden chalets will serve up traditional continental Christmas fayre alongside local food and crafts.
Allan Hartwell, Managing Director, Market Place, said:
“The Market will be packed with a huge range of tasty foods and toasty drinks. Grab your Bag For Life (or buy one at the Market) and explore the wide selection of gifts, feel smug when you find that perfect present that will make a loved one light up on Christmas morning. There’s even more choice this year with five additional chalets featuring local art and crafts offering that memorable hand-crafted gift for someone special.”
Market Place look forward to welcoming back some familiar market traders as well as introducing new ones through the Pitch Perfect competition, which offers a free pitch and support to a local young business for the duration of the market. This year the lucky businesses awarded the coveted prize were, Cloth Barn who create bespoke handcrafted Christmas heirloom glass decorations and Country Ramblings who will be selling beautiful hand-stitched mementos
Once again this year over one million visitors will be spoilt for choice with a huge variety of authentic continental goodies including: crepes from France, Dutch pancakes, Belgian chocolates, an exotic selection of ostrich, wild boar and crocodile burgers, giant bratwurst from the iconic Schwenkgrille, Spanish paella and nougat from Italy. Visitors can take a culinary trip around the world before relaxing in one of the bars, serving drinks from around the world until late into the evening.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson, said:
“The annual Christmas Market is undoubtedly one of the highlights of our city’s calendar, and one of our most popular tourist attractions. Its arrival, along with the switching on of the Christmas Lights, is the signal that the festive season is well and truly underway. Last year’s record-breaking performance was a strong indicator of not only the Market’s success, but also of Belfast’s attraction as a short-break destination, and I look forward to another hugely popular Market this year, and to welcoming many more thousands of visitors to Belfast over the coming week.”
Anne McMullan, Visit Belfast’s Marketing and Communications Director, said: “What better time to discover Belfast than in the lead up to Christmas. The city’s distinctiveness and vitality brings together plenty of great reasons to visit – our unique mix and range of shops, culture, entertainment, nightlife and great-value accommodation, all within a compact, walkable city.
As Northern Ireland’s capital and the island of Ireland’s second largest city, we offer our visitors across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland a depth and quality of attractions you would expect in any major city in Europe. The Christmas Market at City Hall adds to the truly magical experience of visiting Belfast at Christmas and why many visitors come back to Belfast year after year.”
The market is keen to encourage all visitors so Belfast Christmas Market Buddy Scheme initiative has been developed. The scheme aims to extend a warm festive welcome to those who may need extra assistance to help them fully enjoy the market or prefer to visit when it’s less noisy and busy. After a relaxing stroll in the brisk winter chill, visitors and their Buddies are invited to enjoy complimentary tea and coffee served in the Laverys beer tent as part of the scheme. The scheme runs from 10am-12pm Monday-Wednesday for the duration of the market.
Christmas isn’t complete without hearing the laughter of excited children that every family will hear if they visit the famous Santa’s Grotto. Every year this site is offered to the Lord Mayor’s charity, this year’s charity is the Children’s Cancer Unit who will manage the elves and generate much-needed income. Round off a great day by taking a ride on the carousel, or getting your picture taken in the snow globe.
Open from 10 am each day (1 pm on Sundays), the Belfast Christmas Market will be at the City Hall until 6 pm on Sunday 20 December. Some times are of course busier than others but the well-managed queue system put into operation at these times means that things move fast and it’s usually rare to queue for more than ten minutes or so.
To keep up to date with what’s happening at the Christmas Market and for information any of the initiatives, follow the official Facebook page at Belfast Continental Christmas Market. Don’t miss the chance to make this Christmas an extra special one.