Ypres skating
5 December 2013

Enchanting Market Forces

By Rachel Sloane

Sometimes the hassle and bustle of preparing for Christmas can just seem too much, even for those who enjoy all the card-writing, present-giving, meal-planning razzmatazz. A Christmas shopping trip to Europe is the ideal way to turn a chore into a holiday.


Beginning in Germany, the idea of market stalls that specialise in everything to do with Christmas has spread across mainland Europe. Britain has also embraced the idea and there is even a continental style Christmas markets in Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk. However good the British version is, it is the excitement of the real thing that lures us to the brochures. But, where to go, with so many markets on offer?


Some of the German Christmas markets are enormous so the shorter trip to Belgium and the Flanders region could give you the chance to stock up on chocolate, wine, pâté and cheeses, but in a more relaxed style.


Galloways Travel, based in Suffolk runs over twenty Christmas market trips each year to UK cities such as Birmingham, Bath and Lincoln, as well as to Europe.


“Over the years I have been to many Christmas markets,” said David Palmer, a driver with Galloways for 23 years and a tour escort for three. “Some people say that when you have seen one you have seen them all, but they each have their own little individualities, depending upon the town where it is held.”


I was invited to join David for a three day trip to Ypres, Bruge and Ostend. This would offer the opportunity to see beautiful medieval buildings, learn of British heroism in war, get in some store shopping, and discover what are the essentials that make a continental Christmas market…..


Read the full article in the December 2013 edition of Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine