When I first moved to Lincoln, one of the things I was most excited to experience was the annual Christmas market. Originally started in 1982 when Lincoln became twinned with the German town Neustadt, it was the first traditional German market to be held in the UK. At this time the market only consisted of 11 stalls, and often these stall holders travelled all the way from Neustadt to sell their traditional German crafts, food and drink. Nowadays there are more than 250 stalls, with the number and variety growing more every year – but the German stall holders are still there too!
Christmas market with Lincoln cathedral behind (Grimsby Telegraph, 2013)
The market usually runs over 4 days in December – Thursday to Sunday. This year: Thursday 5th December 12pm – 9.30pm, Friday 6th December 10am – 9.30pm, Saturday 7th December 10am – 9.30pm and Sunday 8th December 10am – 7pm. I have been visiting every year since my first Christmas here in 2010 and I haven’t been disappointed yet! This year my parents decided to come to Lincoln so that we could explore the market together, which was really good fun 🙂
We decided to visit on Friday night as previously when we have visited on a Saturday night and it was so busy we couldn’t enjoy ourselves as much. The market was just busy enough to create a good atmosphere but wasn’t so busy that we couldn’t see each stall, which was perfect.
Your visit to the market always begins with the famous walk up Steep Hill (Unless you choose to take one of the scheduled buses). During Christmas market week most of the shops in Lincoln have extended opening hours so you can begin enjoying the variety of gifts available as soon as you reach the city. The individual and quirky shops on Steep Hill are probably some of my favourite in Lincoln and are definitely worth a visit if you haven’t seen them before – or even if you have! As you reach the top of the hill you begin to see the stalls set up in the courtyard between the castle and cathedral. There are of course plenty of places to stop and have a drink or something to eat, including but not limited to: The Magna Carta, Wig and Mitre and Widow Cullen’s.
Steep Hill decorated for Christmas (BBC Lincolnshire, 2008)
This year there were a few stalls selling mulled wine/cider and cheese (A staple at the Christmas market!) as well as one offering traditional German gluhwein. A German style mulled wine, whose name roughly translates as glow wine due to the look of the hot irons originally used to make it.
Towards the entrance of the castle on your left you will find the food tent, which has been in the same location for the last few years. Along with the usual food, this year there was a stall selling traditional Spanish churros. If you read my Ribs ‘n’ Bibs post you will remember me missing out on trying churros due to my excessive consumption of pulled pork – so naturally I was in the queue quicker than you can say YES PLEASE. Safe to say they were delicious especially as they came sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon and a pot of Belgium chocolate.
We then moved through into the castle grounds where stalls are arranged on either side of the designated pathway. There were a large selection of stalls – hand carved wooden gifts, strawberry and champagne cheese, novelty beers/ales and traditional Christmas puddings! We also stopped to have a mulled wine from a stall ran by a large band of monks, which was very good!
As you move out of the castle, look out for Castle Gate Indian restaurant on the left as their food is amazing and they sometimes have a stall outside. There is also usually a stall here which sells beautiful coloured star lamp shades that are really worth a look at. You can then cross over the road into the buildings and grounds of the Charlotte Hotel and Lawn. This year a collection of arts and crafts stalls were set up inside the large hall, which were all really interesting and unique. I particularly enjoyed the candle stall, Christmas themed liquors and coffees!
Star lamp shade stall (Lincolnshire Echo, 2012)
After leaving here you then head into a large marquee which has a selection of stalls from flavoured oils to handmade home ware items. You can then move into a series of tents which are mostly food based, including a tapas style selection, ostrich burgers and roasted chestnuts. Next you can head along the side of the castle grounds past several individual tents which are all really worth a look. Especially the stall selling orange, lime, lemon and spiced wreaths and decorations – which I can never resist.
Here you will also find the ride section of the market, including a huge ferris wheel which has beautiful views out over Lincoln if you are brave enough to ride it as it is very tall! From this point onwards there is one more tent before you head back towards the courtyard outside the cathedral. If you haven’t visited Lincoln before, I would definitely recommend turning left here and having a look around and inside the cathedral.
Ferris wheel from below taken by my good friend Kieran Broadbridge
I love the Christmas market and if you can make it to at least one you definitely should! Give yourself plenty of time to explore every part of the market as it really is worth the time, especially for the stalls with beautifully handmade gifts. A very important part of visiting the Christmas is trying every free sample you can get your hands on, so make sure you do 🙂
A Day in the Life…