Why you should visit your local market to purchase your Christmas groceries and essentials

Bungay Christmas Market.Katy Slater and Sophie Bell from Bells of Suffolk.

Bungay Christmas Market.Katy Slater and Sophie Bell from Bells of Suffolk. - Credit: Nick Butcher

For many a year, shopping locally meant picking up your baskets and heading off to the local market. You'd hear it long before you saw it, as town centres filled with the calls of the vendors, gossips collected in its corners, and the clatter of barrows and crates filled the air.

The busy Medieval Market at Dragon Hall. Picture: Denise Bradley

The busy Medieval Market at Dragon Hall. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

The fact that markets have not only survived frequent shopping revolutions – the arrival of supermarkets, shopping malls, and the vast, online, global storefront – but still draw people to stalls across the country, shows that shopping at your local market has an appeal that reaches places other shopping experiences can't.

Whether it's the six-day Norwich market, the weekly arrival of bright awnings and stalls in the market town centre, or the monthly visit from local farmers, the marketplace is the place to be. It's where you'll find fresh produce without the food miles, and butchers and fishmongers who can tell you where their meat and fish have come from. It's the place to go for hard-to-find household goods, pick up something for the garden, or fill a vase with fresh flowers.

And, no less importantly, the market is social. There are few better ways to meet local people, find out what's going on, or pick up a culinary tip or two from the food growers and producers. Round it all off with a leisurely stop at a refreshment stall or local café, and you have a shopping experience that's hard to beat.

As the festive season draws closer and the stalls fill up with Christmas treats and essentials, Christmas markets and fairs roll into towns and villages across the county. From the early weeks of November all the way through to the last, fevered shopping days of December, artists and crafters, butchers and bakers set out their Christmas wares. Browsing the stalls beneath the bright lights of the richly coloured stalls is as traditional, surprising, and delightful way to do your Christmas shopping as you can get.

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This year, when you can't face the car park queues, and when online shopping for gifts starts to feel a little lacking in seasonal sparkle, do different and shop local. There'll be a stall or two near you in the coming weeks; check the local listings and boards to find out where and when a Christmas market is coming to your town or village hall.

Click here to find out more about the Shop Local This Christmas campaign.

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