St Albans is set to hold it’s first European-style Christmas Market, or Christkindlmarkt, this winter. Bringing the romantic traditions of Austria and Germany, the market is expected to be a magical experience.
Located only 20 minutes from London, St Albans has one of the oldest regular markets in the UK, and it is a fabulous place to do your Christmas shopping, being surrounded by the traditional atmosphere of this charming city. The market will be open from the 28th November until 21st December 2013.
The market will be situated amongst the glorious 11th-century St Albans Cathedral, in the Vintry Gardens. The walled garden, which neighbours the Cathedral, are together recognised by the English Heritage as sites of historic significance, and deservedly so. St Albans Abbey (now Cathedral) was once the most prominent Abbey in England. It set the scene for the meeting in 1213 that, in turn, prompted the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Additionally, St Albans Cathedral is the oldest dwelling of regularly practised Christian worship in the UK and has the longest nave of any Cathedral, including St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey.
St Albans proudly lay claim to the longest routinely organised market in the country, as archives indicate it has been established in same spot on Wednesdays and Saturdays for more than 1,100 years. Never before has the City hosted a Christmas Market, and with popularity set to soar it may well be the first of many.
The 55 charming wooden chalets are to be set where the Roman city of Verulamium did stand, and is now known commonly know as St Albans’ Verulamium Park. The Cathedral quarter sits amongst numerous historic treasures that shall only accentuate the magical ambiance. The last remaining Medieval Clock Tower in the UK is 100 metres to the north and the oldest Public School in the country, whose alumni notably include Pope Adrian IV and Stephen Hawking, is just behind the Cathedral. It is also worthwhile noting that the oldest pub in the county, The Fighting Cocks, is just 200 metres south of the Cathedral and is the ideal location for those who enjoy a pint of real ale.
The Christmas market stalls shall boast to an array of goods, from high-quality food and drink, such as traditional Bratwurst sausages, mulled wine and decorated gingerbread men, to wooden toys, Christmas decorations, stocking-fillers, hand-made clothes and gifts. It will undoubtedly induce a spark of inspiration when shopping for even the most difficult Christmas presents. The local economy will also be supported as an entire section of the market has been dedicated exclusively to products made in the three neighbouring counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Councillor Beric Read, Portfolio Holder for Localism and Community Engagement said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be holding our first German-inspired Christmas Market this year. We are very proud of our famous twice-weekly market, which we believe is the oldest regular town centre market in the UK, having been held in the same place for over 1,100 years. So this year we thought it was about time we had a proper European-style Christmas Market.”
“St Albans is only 20 minutes on the train from St Pancras and we believe we are the nearest Christmas Market to central London, so we are expecting thousands of visitors.”
“It will certainly be a market worth visiting as it will be held in a stunning central location around our Cathedral. St Albans is very good at mixing the historic with the contemporary. Visitors to the market will be able to soak up our amazing history here in St Albans, and at the same time enjoy a fresh and unique Christmas experience.”
Highlights of the first St Albans Christmas Market include:
- Traditional Cathedral Choristers AND a Rock Choir by candlelight
- Light projections on the Cathedral for the first time ever
- A Made in Herts, Beds and Bucks section
Councillor Read continues: “St Albans has had quite a year in 2013. In the Summer we celebrated our unique place in the Magna Carta’s history with the Magna Carta coming to the Cathedral for a month. This event attracted thousands of visitors to the City and our magnificent Cathedral. We are confident that this magical German-inspired Christmas market will do the same, and close 2013 in style.”
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Text by Rebecca O’Rourke