Christmas markets just keep getting bigger each year across the UK. Almost every town now seems to offer a Christmas market at this time of year in an effort to boost both retail trade and tourism. Yet it’s not a new phenomenon; if we go back a few hundred years, Christmas Markets were very popular in the UK and a part of each township’s tradition. But then that miserable puritan curmudgeon Oliver Cromwell banned the celebration of Christmas in the fashion people had become used to - and Christmas Markets were thrown out with the rest of the festive fun. Lincoln was the first UK town to revive the tradition in the modern era. From relatively small beginnings with just 11 stalls, it is now enjoying its 30th successful year, with over 250. Many Christmas markets have continental themes, bringing with them French, Italian and, particularly, German traders. There are now traditional German Christmas markets each year in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Oxford and Bournemouth. Birmingham hosted the first German Christmas market of any great size in the UK back in 2001. Now, the Frankfurt-Birmingham Christmas market is the largest of it kind anywhere outside Germany. When it first started, the market hosted 25 stalls. For this year’s Christmas market, you can multiply that number by almost ten – and around four million visitors are expected to visit before the market closes on December 22nd. Of course, if you’re after an even more traditional German Christmas – then Germany is the country to go to – and an increasing number of British tourists are doing exactly that each year. Wherever the German Christmas market may be – you’ll be able to buy traditional central European gifts of wooden toys, figurines, marionettes, candles and lambskin shoes and many other specialties. But more importantly, you really will get into the festive spirit helped by a little mulled wine, baked apples roast chestnuts, grilled sausages and endless other savoury delights – as well as gingerbread biscuits, marzipan figures and many other sweets. Whether it’s a German Christmas market, or any other Christmas market you’re after; this is a wonderful time of year to soak up a traditional atmosphere. For your nearest German Christmas market, go to www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk, or go to www.christmasmarkets.com for a comprehensive list of all Christmas market types. And finally – Merry Christmas!