Lincoln Christmas Market Review

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AngryShopper's review of Lincoln Christmas Market

★★☆☆☆

“I visited the Lincoln Christmas Market for the first...”

Written on: 07/12/2008 by AngryShopper (21 reviews written)

Good Points
Location - The centre of Lincoln, the Cathedral and Castle, is a magical place with a real atmosphere. Steep Hill has a great selection of unusual and out of the ordinary shops.
The Christmas Fair - Free to enter, plenty of stalls and plenty of food and drink vendors.
My son loved the Dodgems, Coconut Shie and freshly made hot doughnuts.
Well organised - staff appeared friendly and competent, plenty of sign posting for the One Way System.

Bad Points
Overpriced Park & Ride Scheme
Too many stalls selling plastic "tat" and items that you could get at any Pound Store or similar
Too many stalls selling similar items (gifts made of wood, the Russian Dolls, hats/gloves/scarves)
I saw nothing for sale that I wanted.
Very mundane and dull

General Comments
I visited the Lincoln Christmas Market for the first time today, along with my family. Not having been before I had no idea what to expect.

Firstly, there was the Park & Ride scheme. For £10 I could have parked my car and, along with my family, ridden into Lincoln on a bus or coach. The drop off point was quite a distance from the Market itself. As my wife is very familiar with Lincoln she was able to guide me to a car park within easy walking distance of the Christmas Market and it only cost me the sum of £5.50 (All day parking). We did have to drive up a road marked "For Residents Only" but we were able to park easily (this was at about 09:15). This made the trip considerably more pleasant and speeded up our exit from the event. I'd advise anyone going to the Lincoln Christmas Market to find alternative parking options rather than use the very expensive (in my opinion) Park & Ride scheme.

Once we arrived we headed to a local establishment, called ' Wig & Mitre ', and had breakfast. We were charged £4.95 each for a simple bacon sandwich. Our request for tomato ketchup resulted in the appearance of a small ceramic pot with about two teaspoons of ketchup sadly lying in the bottom. We got the distinct impression that "service with a smile" was not a menu option. Two coffees, an orange juice and three bacon sandwiches came to £19.15. Not what I'd call good value for money. I've eaten better and, more importantly, cheaper at too many other establishments to mention.

Once breakfast was completed we headed for the Lincoln Christmas Market proper, starting at the entrance to Lincoln Castle. This was quite early and a number of stalls had not yet opened. There were crowds but not so many that it wasn't easy to move about. The Market staff, wearing Hi-Vis jackets, appeared plentiful and cheerful.

Once into the main Castle area we were presented with large number of stalls. The lawn area had been covered with a plastic matting system so you weren't walking through churned up mud, a definite improvement on some events I've attended. My son also liked it because he could skid across the plastic surface. The stalls could be broken down into the following categories. Food stalls selling hot sausages, pork, beef and anything else that could be stuffed between two slices of bread or in a roll. Hot mulled wine and spiced cider stalls. Stalls selling cheese or other "products" of Lincolnshire. Other stalls were selling plastic "tat", "artworks" that looked like they'd come out of a cash-n-carry and clothing stalls selling hats gloves and scarves. There were a few jewellery stalls and toy stalls. None of what was on sale struck me as being very original or very tempting. My son, whilst being tempted by the plastic "tat", wasn't very impressed with the prices and felt no need to part with his spending money.

We left the Lincoln Castle area after about 30 minutes. Proceeded out of the Castle (there's a one way system to prevent human bottlenecks and I think that's a good idea). From the Castle exit we were guided past a number of rather forlorn and empty food stands to an indoor market where the stall holders were all (as near as I could see) dressed in Victorian dress. A nice touch. The stalls themselves were a cut above the stalls in Lincoln Castle. One product stood out a mile. Footstools that were made in the shape of various animals. Sheep, cattle etc. They were interesting and unusual, I'd never seen anything like them before. The only downside was that the price was too high for me to even consider them as a purchase.

The indoor market held our attention for about 15 minutes. From their we were directed to another outdoor area. Here there was a covered area in which people could sit while watching a brass band play carols, accompanied by some carol singers. What should have been a festive delight was quite drab. I feel the setting wasn't very well decorated and it felt like someone had just shoved the whole affair to one side. Nearby was another collection of stalls. Every other stall being some kind of food retailer. We quickly got bored of these stalls and the overall opinion was that there were far too many food retailers. Perhaps they're the only ones who could afford the rents?

We followed the One Way System, as shown by plenty of signs and reasonably friendly staff, and passed stall after stall. None of which really made any lasting impression. My son bought a couple of cheap toys from one desperate young stallholder who claimed that my son was only his second customer of the day. The stallholder also stated that there were plenty of people passing by but very few buyers.

We carried on and came to a Ferris Wheel. Bright, large and attended by a crew of young men. It was completely empty and the staff looked bored out of their minds.

We eventually came to a small group of fairground rides and my son was immediately in seventh heaven. He loved the Dodgems ( £2.50 per car - max capacity two), the Coconut Shie ( £2 per three balls) and the Carousel ( £2 a go). We spent more time with the Fairground rides than anywhere else. Our son loved it so much that he rode the Dodgems three times. He wasn't in a minority.

That was pretty much the end of the Lincoln Christmas Market. We followed the route back to the start (Castle Entrance) and dared to buy some fudge ' ( £3.50 per 150 grammes - that's £23.33 per kilogram).

Overall, we weren't impressed. Having never visited a Christmas Market we weren't totally sure of what we'd experience but we'd hoped it would be more than stall after stall of what seemed to be the same dull goods. Never ending opportunities to buy various fast food meals and the chance to pay over the odd for things we could get at our local supermarket or Pound Store (Pick n Mix sweets at £1.50 per 100 grammes - £15 per kilogram!!!). Perhaps the Lincoln Christmas Market was once something special but today it's just too mundane and run of the mill to excite us into returning next year.

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