Days out diary - child friendly and family activities

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The Christmas market at Stratford-Upon-Avon is on each Thursday in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is on one of the main streets in Stratford Town Centre and is a traditional English Christmas Market.

We have visited several times over the past few years. This year We visited the Christmas market on the first week that it was on. We didn't realise until we got there that it was also the night of the Christmas light switch-on.

The Christmas Light switch-on is a traditional English event involving morris dancers, the Mayor, the Town Crier and Father Christmas. Unfortunately this year the switch-on did not appear to go to plan. When the lights were first switched-on none of the lights over the Market area came on (which was later fixed), and then it was not possible to hear the announcements over the megaphone which did not appear to work, despite being only a few feet from the front. Fortunately the town crier did a better job and was able to make himself heard without need for the megaphone. The switch-on of the light Christmas Tree worked and all the lights were switched on eventually, but it didn't really go to plan.

Stratford-Upon-Avon Christmas Market

Unlike most other Christmas Markets which seam to grow in size each year, the one at Stratford appeared to have got a little smaller than previous years. It still had most of the market stalls from previous years, but a few that I visited last year were missing and it appeared to be a bit shorter than the past (although it may actually be the same size).

The market is just for shopping; there are no fair rides or any entertainment at the market, although the Christmas lights are colourful and the children enjoyed seeing them.

Stratford Christmas light tree

We were disappointed that many of the high-street shops closed at the normal time. The market is open until late and in the past we have done some Christmas shopping at the normal high-street stores as well. There were some shops still open late including the department stores (open late each night) and the toy shops Wiggler and Much Ado About Toys (the latter is off the main shopping area around the back of BHS). The Nutcracker Christmas shop (selling Christmas decorations throughout the year) was also open.

Nutcracker Christmas Shop at Stratford-Upon-Avon Warwickshire

The Christmas Market still has a good selection of gifts including handmade crafts. It's good that it is a traditional English market without following the current trend of German Markets. It's not that I've anything against German Markets, as I enjoy those as well, but it's good to have the traditional English Christmas markets as well. The Hog roast and handmade crafts are part of the English tradition.

It is however a shame that there are not more shops open for late night shopping.