Yorkshire Christmas Markets – Leeds Christkindelmarkt
It’s that time of year again when towns and cities play host to the colourful Christmas markets, welcoming visitors from near and far to join in the festive celebrations and soak up the unique atmosphere. I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to Christmas Markets, so when a trip to the Yorkshire Christmas Markets – markets I’ve not visited before – came up, I had my bag packed and my Santa hat on faster than you could say ‘mulled wine’.
In a change to our usual working location in Leger’s Design Studio, my colleague, Tammy and I were joining the tour to get some new photographs for the brochures and the website, and to check the tour out – listening to what the customers thought of the trip and experiencing the Yorkshire Christmas markets first hand… First stop: Leeds.
A very warm ‘Willkommen’ in Leeds
As we arrived at the Christkindelmarket in Millennium Square the markets were in full swing. Visiting each stall one by one to see what delights were on offer, we were lead along from stall to stall by one enticing smell after another. It was this mouth-watering mix of smells that hit us first as we arrived at the market – from the smoke of the giant barbecue cooking juicy frankfurters, sizzling schnitzel and huge burgers, to the sugary smell of candy floss and sweet popcorn being made, our senses went into overdrive… and if you visit a Christmas market, don’t miss the ‘Christmas in a glass’ taste of mulled wine – simply a must on a cold day in December! If you don’t collect the deposit you pay on your warm drink, you can even keep the special mug as a souvenir of your visit.
The square in Leeds was full of wooden chalets selling all kinds of unusual gifts ranging from the ‘Honey House’, where a unique variety of candles, honey and jam were being sold, to hand-painted baubles and candle holders, knitted and sheepskin clothing, and salt crystal lamps which lit up with a warm orange glow.
Caroline: “The man at the ‘Honey House’ told me how this was his 6th year at the Leeds Christkindelmarkt, and so far, sales were good – probably, he guessed, because he’d managed to hold his prices from last year. It’s his daughter who makes the candles on his stall – beeswax candles in the shape of pine cones, roses, Christmas trees, angels and reindeer, all created by pouring liquid beeswax into moulds where it’s left to set for 24 hours. And what’s his role in this, other than being the stall holder? He’s the beekeeper, and he’s been looking after the bees for over 40 years – with quite a few stings along the way!”
The traditional nutcrackers and wooden toys brought out the Bavarian theme to this market with other stalls selling brightly painted, old tin toys and unique Christmas decorations made from dried fruit and cinnamon sticks which smelled lovely. The glittering carousel was brought to life as it whizzed around with squeals of laughter from children and adults alike, whilst the sound of fairground music played, all adding to the market’s wonderful atmosphere.
In the centre of the stalls, we could hear live entertainment coming from the warm and cozy retreat of the ‘Alp Chalet Restaurant’, a huge, log cabin-style hut providing authentic German food and drink – obviously a popular place judging by the queue of people waiting to get in!
Caroline: “I’ve been to a few markets in Germany before – Cologne, Düsseldorf, Rüdesheim, Aachen etc – they’re my favourite, so it’s great to have one to visit a bit closer to home. It really gives you a taste – quite literally – of what’s on offer at the bigger markets in Germany.”
All day there was a great, festive atmosphere, but it’s after dark when the markets really come to life. After around 5 o’clock they became quite busy with the bustle of people gathering around the food and drink stalls, many of them clutching a warm drink and tasty snack and wearing an array of different woollen hats, probably bought at the market. The unique, magical Christmas feeling flowed through the market as the brass band started to play classic Christmas tunes, all adding to the festive atmosphere. We even spotted the big man himself – who would’ve thought we’d get to see Father Christmas at Leeds Christkindelmarkets – he even stopped for a photo!
Next stop: Grassington’s Dickensian Festival.