Picture the scene: the soft twinkle of festive fairy lights, the blazing heat of a roaring fire to warm your bemittened hands, rosy cheeked purveyors of mulled wine and cider…why travel to Hamburg when you can get all this – and a cheeky visit to John Lewis – in Kingston town centre.
The festive season officially began as the Christmas lights were magically switched on by the Snow Queen, the lead character in the Christmas production at the Rose Theatre. Kingston’s Christmas market opened it’s doors on the same evening and will be there until Christmas Eve with some of the food and drink stalls staying open until the end of the year.
Ok ok, I’m sold: where is it?
There will be two dedicated areas this year: Ancient Market Place and an ‘Alpine Village’ on the front of All Saints Church lawn making it easier to enjoy the festive atmosphere whilst ensuring you won’t miss anything.
How do I keep the kids happy?
As idyllic as the vintage carousel in Alpine Village sounds, OUT is overexcited by the idea of the reindeer rodeo and snowboard simulator which will be there over the December weekends. If cold induced moaning threatens to appear from any member of the family, big or small, there will be a fire pit lit from 4pm from Thursday to Sunday and the bar sells marshmallows ready to toast.
Let’s cut to the cheese: what can I eat?
Everything: it’s Christmas, right? Start at one of the bars serving warm mulled wine and cider then move on to traditional German bratwurst, roast pork rolls, waffles, churros and Dutch mini pancakes.
If you are wearing your elastic waist trousers then saunter onto the Street Food Stalls offering hot food from around the world including Vietnamese, Moroccan, Afro-Caribbean, North Indian, burgers, hot dogs and burritos.
Can I sort my Christmas shopping at the same time?
You can definitely make some serious inroads into your list plus you get to do it clutching a mulled wine and a roast pork roll: what’s not to like? Among the multitude of stalls to wander around you will find vendors of traditionally made moonshine, local candle and home fragrance makers, stalls stuffed with artwork, handmade reproductions of rare vintage maps plus cabins selling various Christmas decorations, food gifts such as specialist cheese, fudge and chocolates, handmade jewellery and plenty more.
Anything else I should know?
There will be entertainment on the market stage most nights including the odd open mic night, but always check inkingston.co.uk for updates on what’s going on.
Kingston Christmas Markets, from 14 November until Christmas Eve
Photography by Charlotte Levy