This weekend I visited friends and headed out to their local Christmas market, which got me thinking: over the last few years Iâ€™ve noticed a big rise in the number of Christmas markets taking place. It used to be that you had to head to your nearest big city to check out a proper festive market, but now it seems that every Tom, Dick and Harry of a town has one, all replete with wooden sheds covered in tinsel.
Not that Iâ€™m complaining â€“ come December 1stÂ I used to turn into a big kid counting down to Christmas, but not so much in the last few years. I often need a push to get into the Christmas spirit nowadays and these kinds of things really warm my cockles and get me excited about the festive season once again.
Theyâ€™re also great ways to support the local community, as itâ€™s a chance for small independent businesses to sell their wares and they are especially great for artists and crafters.
Although I donâ€™t often buy a lot of things, Iâ€™ll happily spend and hour or so wandering around the stalls and like to come away with a quirky little gift for at least one of my friends or family members.
There are usually delicious looking preserves (as well as gorgeous smelling burgers!), beautiful jewellery, handmade bags and warm-looking woolly jumpers. I also love anything kitsch, and I often find quirky gifts for friends (and occasionally something I canâ€™t bear to part with, so keep for myself!).
But although most of us have a market nearby, I still prefer to head a bit further afield in order to get the best possible wintery experience.Â Emma and I have both always wanted to head to the Continent to experience the really authentic Christmas markets (think snow, mountains and hot chocolate) so weâ€™re looking into trips to the alpine Christmas markets for next winter.
But for this year my market of choice has to be Bath. As a city itâ€™s beautiful to wander around, but something magical happens when the Christmas market is on. Iâ€™ll be honest, the crowds do annoy me, but I do think itâ€™s worth it when you get beyond the people rage and just begin to let the festive feeling flow over you.
Do you guys agree? Do you get a buzz from festive markets or do they make you come over all Ebenezer Scrooge? And what are your favourite venues? Iâ€™d love to hear of some of the best Christmas markets to check out, either this year or in 2013â€¦.
(Image used under Creative Commons fromÂ Rwendland )