There have been markets in St Albans for a thousand years. In 2013 the beautiful City added a European-inspired Christmas Market to its portfolio. This has grown since then to become one of the highlights of the festive calendar, attracting visitors from near and far. For its fifth year, in 2017 the market will be longer than ever – operating almost up until Christmas itself. It will open on Saturday 25 November and run right up to Saturday 23 December, offering shoppers even more opportunity to soak up the festive atmosphere.
It takes place in and around the beautiful walled Vintry Garden adjacent to the magnificent 11th-century St Albans Cathedral. The pretty Cathedral quarter sits right at the centre of a triangle of St Albans ‘oldest’ treasures: the only working Medieval Clock Tower; the oldest Public School in the country; and the oldest pub in the UK, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, a stone’s throw from the Cathedral.
Around 40 stalls will be selling gifts and goodies, including decorations, jewellery, clothing and homewares. There will also be festive food including German-style bratwurst and warming hot chocolate. This year stallholders are vying with each other for the title of best-dressed chalet. You can vote for the one that you think is the most beautiful via our Facebook page.
A packed programme of festive fun within the Christmas Market, including music, dance, magic and circus skills will entertain the crowds. Come to the Tinseltown Tent for a fun-filled festive extravaganza with local bands, musicians, entertainers, community groups, youth groups and schools.
All of this will be launched in spectacular style. The Christmas Market opening weekend coincides with the festive event to end all festive events… the great St Albans Christmas lights switch-on on Sunday 26 November
Come and meet the stars of Aladdin, this year’s panto at the Alban Arena, as they count down to the big moment when the lights will be revealed in all their twinkling glory. Fairground rides, facepainting and festive performers will combine to create an unbeatable atmosphere.
For families and visitors looking to explore the City’s charms in more sedate style, a Nutcracker Trail promises to delight the eye. The trail features 15 six-foot tall Nutcracker soldiers dotted throughout the city from the end of November (maps and entry forms are available from City Centre shops). Followers of the trail will be in with a chance of winning an iPad Mini – come and post your entries and meet the Nutcracker King at the Christmas Market.
If you time your visit right, you’ll get two markets for the price of one! St Albans Charter Market operates on St Peters Street in the City Centre throughout the year on Wednesdays and Saturdays, selling everything from fabric to fruit. From Sunday 17 December this vibrant market – one of the biggest weekday markets in the region – is on every day until Christmas Eve.
Dates for your diary: Christmas Market Saturday 25 November – Saturday 23 December. Mon-Wed & Fri 11am-6pm. Thu 11am-8pm. Sat & Sun 10am-6pm
Charter Market: Every Wednesday and Saturday, then daily from 17-24 December.
Farmers’ Market: Sunday 10 December.
Christmas Lights switch-on Sunday 26 November 12-6pm, St Albans City Centre.
For information on all of the above, please see enjoystalbans.com/Christmas
Harpenden Christmas Carnival and Farmers Market (from noon, Sunday 26 November). Father Christmas and his elves will be stopping by, and the Harpenden Christmas Lights will be switched on at 5pm. Details at www.harpenden.gov.uk
Redbourn Christmas Market, Sunday 3 December, 11am – 5pm redbournchristmasmarket.com.
Abbey Flyer Santa Special Saturday 9 December. Bring the children down for a special visit (see www.abbeyline.org.uk for times and details).