As we are going to be on a boat for three weeks over Xmas, I’m extending the festive period so that it starts in November (I don’t care, I like Christmas, so go on shoot me!) and we went to our first Xmas market of the season last weekend. This was the first time we’ve visited the Gloucester Quays Victorian Christmas Market.
We’ve been to both Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market and are regulars at Blenheim Festival of Lights, so this made a nice a change. Gloucester Quays is an outlet shopping village, based around the old dockyards. It’s really grown in the last ten years since we’ve been heading there and the Xmas market is one of the highlights.
All the stallholders dress up in Victorian costume and there are character actors milling around to engage you in some ‘ye olde chat!’ The Victorian Christmas market will be open at Gloucester Quays from Thursday 15 November 2018 to Sunday 25 November 2018. So this is the last weekend you have to visit this year!
Here are our five top tips for visiting:
Parking is busy
Ok this is a boring topic, but just be prepared for the fact that this is a popular event and there is never enough parking – the car park by Gloucester Quays itself was full and closed by the time we got there at 1.30pm.
However, there are lots of car parks in Gloucester – a quick ‘google map it’ job will give you a clear steer when you’re there. We parked in Gloucester Docks Car Park. Just be patient, you’ll get a space eventually.
Hetty’s Hot Chocolate
I saw people milling around with these enticing looking hot chocolates. I eventually found Hetty’s stand where she was dishing up traditional Belgian hot chocolate, piped with a topping of sticky marshmallow which she then blowtorched! It was as epic as it sounds.
There are two or three different food areas at the Victorian Xmas market, so make sure you fully explore before you plump for your choice. The Healthy Hotdog stand was particularly popular this year and always had a super long queue, but it was tasty. I think though on reflection Tom had the better choice, as he went for lamb kofta naanwich from another stand.
Vintage fair rides and ice rink
Nothing says Victorian Xmas Market like a carousel or a helter-skelter. Both attractions were actually at different ends of the market stands which was a good idea as it kept people moving through the market, rather than clustering at one end. The open air ice rink is £9.50 for adults and £7.00 for a child.
This year the Xmas market has 160 stallholders – artisan producers from all over the area (and country!) This year there was A LOT of gin, but who’s complaining. Our particular favourites were the British Cassis supplier, the marshmallow guy, Tilly’s tearoom in Tewkesbury plus the Dutch cheese people.
Despite the fact that it is called the ‘Victorian Xmas Market’ I was actually slightly taken aback with how Christmassy it actually felt – it was the first time I’ve heard Christmas songs this year! Do time your trip so that it includes early evening when it feels super festive with the twinkly lights.