The streets are shining with the bright blue and white lights, you can smell the warm food and Christmas songs are playing on the stalls.
But not everyone’s happy. Many of the permanent stallholders are suffering a major blow, with customers choosing to spend time and money at the new pop-up markets.
Councillor Phil Bale, the leader of Cardiff City council, said: “This is set to be a fantastic event as Cardiff will come alive with the magical spirit of Christmas. We expect a fantastic atmosphere with plenty of people turning out to see Christmas in Cardiff.”
The Christmas market has been located in Cardiff city centre for around 20 years. This year it is expected to have around 190 exhibitors over the course of 42 days. It covers St Johns Street, Working Street, The Hayes Hills Street and Trinity Street from November 12 until December 23.
The market opening times are:
A guide to the market with Emma
All the items for sale on the stalls are made by small, local, Welsh businesses.
There are plenty of things to buy, from homemade food, crafts and Christmas decorations to alcoholic beverages and photos.
As I was walking along the street one of the stalls that caught my attention was the ‘Beacons Candles’. The stall smelled wonderful. I asked Ruth Jefferies, the stallholder, the story behind the various patterned candles, bath bombs and scented log fire burners. She explained that the items are created by local people with learning disabilities.
She said: “We were once a care centre but now with the candle workshop we have become an independent business. We wanted to look after the locals who have learning difficulties. We help people with mental health issues, rehabilitate them and become more employable.”
Another stall likely to catch people’s attention, and certainly caught mine, was the ‘Chock Shop’. Ellen Howells, stallholder, said: “We have been a very popular stall because chocolate sells really well. People love it.”
A wide range of chocolate brownies are available, from Oreo biscuit brownies to gooey caramel brownies. To top it off, you can have a pot of hot chocolate sauce to dip the brownie into.
Ellen said: “We have been extremely busy every afternoon. Obviously more people want chocolate in the afternoons rather than the mornings. Business has been great so far. I think the Christmas stalls are great and everyone should be allowed equal opportunities to sell things in both of Cardiff’s markets.”
Another intriguing stall that I came across was ‘Angharad Banks’ run by Trevor Banks. The small business has textile-based items such as cushions, bags, crafts and many homely items on offer, all of which are homemade.
Trevor said: “Considering the weather we have had lots of people coming to the stall which is great. We have been located here for three years and the best bit is how great the neighbours are because it makes a great atmosphere, especially for our customers.”
Whether you want to eat, drink or buy a variety of Christmas gifts for your loved ones, the market is a great place to visit at this time of year. It might be expensive, but it does only come around once a year and there is something for everyone to enjoy.
What do the stallholders in the indoor market think?
Mary Crocker, an employee at the cheese and sweet stall in the indoor market, said: “The market is absolutely terrible. We have been complaining about it for years. The outside markets are meant to sell crafts and homemade items, but they are really just selling the same things as us, which is very unfair. Our business has been threatened and our trade is going.”
Denise Edwards, the owner of the Keepsakes stall, said: “It is very unfair. We are here all year. We pay our rents to the council and then these Christmas stalls only come when money is to be made. I have signed several petitions to get this to stop, but no one can do anything about it. They are taking trade right from under our noses.”
A fellow trader and owner of the Woolpack stall, Lynnette Ford, said: “Of course it impacts our market and most of them are coming here and are earning an extra profit because their businesses are also making a profit. Yet, I do believe we cannot blame the Christmas market for these problems because online shoppers have also led to our decline in trade as well as the bus station closing down.
“Older people used to hop on a bus and come straight to the indoor market but since it closed down less come here because it is much harder for them. I say that there is enough room for us all, the indoor and outdoor markets. Some of the stalls have continued to do well. It is not a competition at all. I know myself that my sales are higher in the winter because it’s a seasonal trade and that will be the case for everyone.”
What do you like about the Christmas market?
Ali Parpaei, 23, part-time tutor.
Shreeyasi Hait, 21, student.
John Sheldon, 22, unemployed.
Tom Cotterill, 22, student.