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Review: Leeds’ German Christmas Market 2013

That festive time of year is fast approaching; the time of mulled wine and mince pies is already upon us. Christmas lights have been put up in the streets and Santa’s Grottos are popping up in shopping centres. Our televisions are greeting us with magical adverts and late night shopping has officially begun. The Christmas spirit is in full swing, which means that in Leeds the German Christmas Market has once more graced us with its presence for the twelfth year running. The Christkindelmarkt has arrived in Millennium Square and is one of the largest and most established German Christmas markets in the UK. With over 40 different stalls, and a fun fair, there is plenty to see and do.

On arrival at the market on a Saturday evening, the atmosphere was electric and exciting. The first thing you notice are the traditional wooden chalet stalls that will definitely make you think twice as to whether you are in Leeds or not. There is a certain European feel in the air, the only thing missing being snow! Twinkling lights and decorations dress up the stalls to give an extra Christmassy feel to Millennium Square, the perfect setting right in the heart of Leeds city centre.

The next thing that hits you is the aroma of delicious scents that tease your nose as you make your way through the market. A variety of different food stalls will tempt you, so make sure you don’t visit on a full stomach. Specialty foods and traditional German delicacies will leave your appetite feeling completely satisfied. If you’re in the mood for something filling, then take your pick from authentic German bratwurst sausages, goulash (meat stew), or schnitzel (tenderized meat) that can be ordered from various food stalls. If you fancy something sweeter, there are plenty of stalls offering chocolate covered fruit and candy, gingerbread, waffles and stollen (German fruit cake). You can enjoy your treats as a takeaway while still being able to wander and enjoy the rest of the market. Being a sweet tooth myself, I couldn’t say no to strawberries covered in white chocolate, a definite must-taste!

For families or groups looking to sit down and enjoy the full feel of German food then you can visit the Frankfurter Scheune, a huge tent located right in the middle of the market that serves up real German dishes and drinks. Every night they have performances by a Bavarian show band; however, they do not take bookings or reservations and on busy nights the queues can be excessively long. If this is somewhere you definitely want to visit then I recommend turning up early to make sure you get a seat, as it is always a popular attraction. If you’re in the mood for something a little more subdued, then the Alp Chalet is a Bavarian style restaurant located close to the main tent. With high-class chefs, Bavarian Christmas decorations and music, you are in for an authentic experience (the restaurant does take bookings).

If you’re one of those people that are always eager to start your Christmas shopping early, you may be able to find some special hidden treasures. The stalls have many things to offer, from children’s toys to women’s jewellery, and are all beautifully set out to catch your eye. My favourite stall must have been the traditional German wood shop, where you can watch them carving intricate wooden ornaments right at the stall. You could even personalise wooden key-rings and pegs to make that gift extra special. The list of goods on offer would be too long for me to list and a few of the stalls were selling quite similar trinkets, but it must be said that it was still interesting to have a look around each one; some offering handmade candles and mosaicked candle holders, others knitted gloves and hats.

Less traditional things to look out for whilst making your way through this enchanting winter village would be the unique coffee stall offering a variety of different flavours that you will not find elsewhere. Also, some beautiful crystal lamps and handcrafted wind chimes may not be the typical item on your shopping list, but the ones on offer will leave you questioning why they weren’t! Your purse might take a bit of a hit with some of the more expensively priced treasures, but if it’s something unique you are looking for, then why not?

Overall, the Christkindelmarkt is undeniably worth a visit. Whether you intend to do some Christmas shopping or not, there is something quite special about strolling through Millennium Square at this time of year, and if you want to grab a bite to eat, I would definitely recommend trying some of the German delicacies. So why not join the thousands of visitors that come to see this exciting market with its heart-warming Christmas ambience? Go and see what the fuss is about!

The market is open until 18th December.

By Nabihah Parkar






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