One of the best ways to get into the festive spirit is by browsing some of the UK’s best accessible Christmas markets. Pop-up chalets and stalls line the streets of some of the biggest towns and cities in England, Wales and Scotland during the Christmas season, and are accessible to everyone, including those with limited mobility. In this article, we look at some of the best accessible Christmas markets for 2017.
As the historic city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site, many are under the impression that it is inaccessible to those using mobility aids. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The vast majority of attractions have been developed to give everyone the opportunity to explore the city (even those who use stairlifts at home) and the same goes for the annual Christmas market. We caught up with Claire Styles, PR and Communications Assistant at Visit Bath, to find out more about this fantastic event:
“Bath Christmas Market is unique in that over 80% of the stallholders from Bath and the South West, and an impressive 99% of products are either handmade by the stallholders’ own hands, in Britain or abroad with Fairtrade certification. When you shop at the Bath Christmas Market, you are also supporting all of the wonderful small business owners. This year we have 30 more chalets and are welcoming 60 brand new businesses.
“We are committed to ensuring, so far as reasonably possible, that Bath Christmas Market is accessible to everyone wishing to attend. The main areas of the event site can be accessed via drop curbs, which are permanent features of the city centre. An accessible toilet facility is also made available.
“Chalets have been taken from the main square and dispersed along South Gate Street, Union Street and Hot Bath Street to improve the flow and access for visitors. Mobility helpers will be available to assist less abled visitors when required.”
In the heart of the Welsh capital city, Cardiff Christmas Market offers visitors something a little special. Handmade crafts and gifts steal the show at this festive extravaganza, which has been organised by a small independent company, Craftfolk, for over 20 years. We spoke to Jane Hall, operations manager, to find out more about what’s on offer:
“We are committed to ensuring, through our events, that genuine arts and crafts are kept alive. Especially when faced with so many mass-produced products available in the marketplace today. Although we do have a selection of food and drink stalls at the Christmas market as this adds to the atmosphere, our core exhibitors are made up of talented artists and crafts people offering artwork, woodwork, jewellers representing different facets of jewellery from silversmiths, cloisonné enamel work to glasswork and semi-precious stones, Welsh slate work handmade/thrown ceramics, recycled glass, candles, soaps, creams, chocolates, fudge, pewter work, textiles and leatherwork to name just a few.
“I think that our market is unique because of the artists and crafts people that take part as they are genuine makers. Their work is not mass produced, is totally original, and is now available to buy anywhere else other than from the makers themselves. Our event has grown over the years and with over 80 beautifully decorated wooden stalls, is now an integral part of Christmas in Cardiff city centre, attracting footfall that not only benefits us but also benefits the permanent retailers. This year, during the 45 days of the market, will see a rolling programme of over 200 exhibitors taking part.”
When it comes to accessibility, Cardiff City Centre is great those who have limited mobility and might usually rely on a stairlift at home. Jane added: “As all our stalls are located within the pedestrian areas of Cardiff City Centre everything is on the flat and very accessible, although to enter our stalls there is small 2 inch step up onto the wooden floor. We also have a few disabled exhibitors taking part and are not aware of any problems with them getting in and out of their stall.
“We advise visitors on the visit page of our website of a free City Centre Mobility Service. This service is able to carry disabled and elderly passengers around the pedestrianised zones in the city centre. Contact 029 2087 3888 to ask for assistance.”
The ancient city of York almost always feels Christmassy due to its beautiful architecture and cosy, narrow walkways. St Nicholas Fair is perhaps one of the most picturesque Christmas markets in the UK, offering plenty of places to unwind with a cup of mulled wine in between browsing the stalls. Heather Lynn, city centre marketing executive at Make It York, was kind enough to tell us all about what you can expect from St Nicholas Fair:
“St Nicholas Fair is at the very heart of Christmas activities in the city of York. The fair takes place across several locations throughout the city including Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square and The Judge’s Lodging, where the Small Business Christmas Market will be the home of handcrafted gifts, plus there’s inspired presents aplenty in Coppergate.
“Local flavour will fill York’s famous Shambles Market and Food Court and there’s decorative details on offer at the new Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village. You can relax around a roaring log fire at cosy canvas hangout Thor’s Tipi, where you can warm up with a hot chocolate or something a little stronger. The market takes place for 6 weeks across the festive period. Over 100 chalets are situated on Parliament Street, one of the busiest streets in the centre of York and home to some of its biggest high street retailers and banks.
“St Nicholas Fair provides a unique shopping experience that is sure to give you that festive feel. The Scandinavian-style chalets are dressed with traditional Christmas wreaths and festive lighting to create the perfect ambience for all your yuletide purchases. With trades of all kinds such as fresh local food produce, aromatic mulled wine and festive decorations, St Nicholas Fair is the perfect place to browse for your Christmas treats to yourself or a friend.”
We asked Heather about access to the market: “All parts of our market are accessible, but some of the chalets may not allow wheelchair access inside due to the nature of the small cabins and limited space. Most chalets have a small ramp where necessary to allow for imbalances in the streetscape.”
Towering over the city, Exeter Cathedral is one of Devon’s most spectacular pieces of architecture. And this year, it will be hosting the Christmas market. Showcasing food and wares from local businesses, all sold in picturesque stalls adorned with lights, the event promises everything you would wish for from a Christmas market. Tuck into a delicious hog roast from Kenniford Farm, sample some gin from Salcombe Distilling Company or grab a slice from Flaming Good Pizza.
Edinburgh at Christmastime is perhaps one of the most magical sights in the world. Beneath the stone buildings of the old city, festive chalets offer gifts, decorations and delicious food. We caught up with the team behind Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations to find out what’s going on at this year’s event:
“Edinburgh is the place to be this Christmas! Princes Street Gardens Christmas Market remains a centre point for families with Santa Train, Big Wheel, Star Flyer and Christmas Tree Maze, among others rides and attractions, providing Christmas magic to children of all ages! Let’s not forget about George Street Market which also offers a unique shopping experience with its fair of Scottish and international artists, crafters and foodies’ stalls to get everyone into the Christmas spirit. The markets are open from 10am until 10pm.
“Edinburgh’s Christmas markets are so special because they offer both a traditional and contemporary festive experience for all, bringing the community, family and friends together to celebrate Christmas with Edinburgh as a stunning backdrop.”
All of Edinburgh’s Christmas sites are accessible. For full details visit the website.
The impressive architecture of Bury St Edmunds makes it the perfect place for a cosy Christmas market. This year’s Christmas fayre promises all the joys of a traditional Christmas event – plenty of food and mulled wine, carol singing and fireworks. For those interested in cooking, the ICE Cookery Theatre in the picturesque Cathedral Courtyard will welcome some of the best chefs in East Anglia, offering tips for a delicious Christmas dinner.
Taking over the grand lawn, Leeds Castle Christmas Market is guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit. The event overlooks the castle, with traditional stalls offering seasonal gifts, toys, decorations, and of course, deliciously festive food and drink. With live music to keep you entertained as you browse, and plenty of tasty Christmas treats to tuck into, we’re sure you’ll have the most wonderful time of the year.
This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
Image Credit: Bath Christmas Market