Leeds 'Christkindelmarkt' is one of the largest and best established authentic German Christmas markets in the UK. Established in 2002, the Market is a partnership between Leeds City Council and Frankfurt Am Main (City Council) in Germany.
The tradition of German Christmas Markets goes back to the Middle Ages. Records of the Frankfurt Christmas Market date back to 1393. At that time, the markets merely consisted of product stalls where artisans sold their own wares - mainly wooden toys, Christmas decorations, candles and sweets. Ceramics stalls were a special feature of the Frankfurt Market.
Over time, the range of products available at German Christmas Markets has changed to suit modern tastes, but the markets still hold true to their traditions, with Christmas decorations, crafts and sweets still dominating today. The Christmas market is the place to buy all you need to make Christmas special, including decorations, gifts and sweets - traditionally consumed in large quantities at Advent and Christmas time.
Reflecting this tradition, stalls selling candles, toys, sweets, ceramics and crafts are an integral part of an authentic and traditional German Christmas Market and are essential to create its special atmosphere. The same stalls feature at the markets year after year. But this does not mean that their products stay the same. Every year, the stallholders update their ranges: the candle stall, for example, offers fresh and exciting products every year to cater for changing tastes. Today's range of candles in all shapes, sizes, colours and designs is very different from the wares that the same stall offered a few years ago. This is typical of all the stallholders' approach. Each year, current demand and new innovations on the product market alter the range of goods available at the German Christmas Markets.
Over the course of their history, the German Christmas Markets have evolved into something more than merely a product market: today, they are meeting points where people can relax and socialise. The food stalls literally cater for this trend: the gluhwein, refreshment stalls and marquees offer a place to meet up with friends and family, making a visit to the market an enjoyable experience.