Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas is... #9 Christmas Markets

At the weekend we went off to explore Cardiff. We had been asked to do a Xmas market review and Mr J was determined to take the task very seriously.
This basically meant fulfilling the Christmas motto of 'eat, drink and be merry'.

Admittedly, the weather left a lot to be desired, however one of the things I was most impressed by was this didn't dampen any festive cheer. Unlike markets I have been to in the past the plastic covers did not come down, everything was set up to continue welcoming the inquisitive shopper.

I was reminded of the Manchester Christmas Markets, on a smaller, less overwhelming scale.
Cardiff Christmas Markets is based on the Hayes, and sprawls over to Working Street, St John Street and Trinity Street.
The effort which has gone into transforming the area for Christmas is amazing, it really does create the market feel. From talking to friends it is more impressive as dusk settles- but for us the little people need their beds so we missed out on the Christmas lighting.


The stalls really do offer something for everyone. Mr J was impressed with the curry stall and the cheeses on offer, oh and of course the Anglesey spirits (oh which a bottle may have made it's way into our shopping bag... well, I've never tried sloe gin!).

I fell in love with products on quite a few stalls. As always, if I had any interest in the garden I would have been in my element, some gorgeous decorative pieces which I would love but never use.
I have fallen for the smell of orange based decorations. I had read a few posts about sliced orange decorations and didn't 'get' it, but there was a stall which sold wreaths made of oranges and the smell was so welcoming... definitely one to think about crafting next year.
There were so many Welsh stalls- from gorgeous Welsh love spoons to Welsh slate, and wonderful signs full of Welsh references... which didn't really appeal to Mr J...
Mr J was quite taken with the search for a new hat... and again, another gift may have ended up under our Christmas tree!


By far the thing which is most likely to be the measure of whether the Johnson family had a good experience is whether everyone is fed, watered and happy. Fortunately this was accommodated for, and more, with a favourite food for Mr J and the little people being on offer.
Admittedly we were a bit overwhelmed with the offer, and wondered if the boys would accept this compared to their usual British fayre, but we were in luck. The boys and Mr J were well fed, and Johnson men with full bellies are always a lot more patient when shopping!

Squeaks typically remained determined in her request for a lolly for lunch. So once mummy had tried some mulled wine agreement was reached! Although, oddly, the lolly never came out of its wrapper but was carried in had for the rest of the day.

So, whilst we spent a fair amount on food and drink- it was reasonably priced but when it's good it's feeding a family of five!- mummy also got her way and managed to sneak a few Christmas trinkets and pressies into the bag.

The favourite store by far for me was the wooden toy store. I had to think carefully about purchases as the boys are renowned for understanding that wooden toys make the best weapons, fortunately there were a lot of beautiful decorative items which will look gorgeous in a redecorated bedroom.

The market is great for Christmas decorative items, I loved the Christmas signs, as well as the felt Christmas tree decorations. I managed to justify a few more Christmas tree decorations!


All in all we had a great experience. The rain is to be accepted, but the atmosphere and Christmas spirit was not- and it was overwhelmingly festive.
I think, on the whole, Christmas makes for festive cheer and manners, and this was evident on every stall.
Nothing was over priced (which I would usually assume) and were comparable to any high street stall.

Having lived in Cardiff in my youth, the Christmas Markets are definitely a welcome addition. Parking in Cardiff can sometimes be difficult, I was warned (by mother) that we were doing it all wrong as we planned and did arrive in Cardiff for 11 (on a Saturday- could we be any more bonkers!!). We decided on the civic centre and there were plenty of spaces at a reasonable price (we didn't pay as some generous soul gave us their ticket which had four hours left on it!).

What would be the only downside of the Christmas market? Well, it wasn't snowing, we were driving, and we had our children to entertain. Whilst this was a perfect Saturday I would definitely look forward to going around dusk as a couple and really enjoying the festive spirit!


Disclaimer: Money Supermarket were generous enough to give me £50 to spend at the Cardiff Christmas Market. It was spent by all of the family and the views expressed are our own.

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