Shoppers looking for a unique Christmas gift won’t be able to wrap up warm and head to a Christmas market in 2020. England’s second national lockdown has put an end to any cautious plans for outdoor markets to go ahead. Virtual Christmas markets may just be the norm this year, but there’s still a lot to look forward to.

Virtual markets replacing long-standing events

Here in the Midlands, the lack of events like Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland, the Christmas market at Chatsworth House and the famous German market in Lincoln will leave a gap in the lives of countless Christmas shoppers. Ever since Lincoln introduced its market in 1982, these events have been a beloved holiday activity for thousands.

If the lack of Christmas markets is disappointing for the public, it could be devastating for their vendors, many of which are small businesses and craftspeople with a local audience. But, as with many of the changes we’ve had to deal with during the lockdowns, the internet offers a new opportunity.

In a bid to inject some much-needed Christmas cheer into our readers’ lives, we’ve carried out some very unscientific research to bring you an overview of this brand-new, virtual Christmas market landscape.

UK-wide Christmas market websites

Wherever you are in the country, you can open up your laptop and browse one of the nationwide virtual markets that have sprung up this year.

Christmas Market 2020 claims to be the world’s biggest virtual Christmas market and promises a traditional Christmas market inside your very own home. True to their word, the organisers have put together a staggering list of vendors across nine different market categories including art & supplies, skincare & beauty and personalised gifts. To get information on the event schedule and attend, you just need to RSVP by email.

Online Christmas Fair is running its virtual market as a more familiar online shopping experience, rather than as an event. In true Christmas market fashion they still have dozens of small businesses and independent craftspeople as vendors, all of whom are showcasing particular products and offering market visitors discount codes to make purchases on their site. It might be a far cry from a real market experience, but it looks like a great way to find the same type of gifts and support small businesses.

Local virtual markets

While Christmas markets have become a nationwide phenomenon, most of them have retained a local flavour. They provide outlets for local businesses to reach far larger audiences than they would normally enjoy. Many smaller virtual Christmas markets have sprung up around the country to emulate these fairs’ local feel.

There are far too many local markets to highlight, but we’ve found a few good examples and would encourage you to search on Google and Facebook to see what’s going on in your local area.

One great example of a big event supporting its stallholders is the Bath Christmas market, which is linking through to many of its sellers on its website. It’s no substitute for the city’s immensely popular Christmas market, but it still gives shoppers the chance to find the same kinds of gifts and support the same sellers.

We also love the idea of the true virtual market being pioneered in Glasgow by founder Kelly Conway. Going one step further than many other sites we’ve seen, Super Market Events is actually setting up a virtual tour that allows visitors to move around the virtual market and interact with ‘stalls.’ It looks like there’s scope for this idea to take off beyond Glasgow in 2021, so it certainly seems to be one to watch.

Virtual Christmas markets on Facebook

Most of the local and smaller virtual Christmas markets that we can find are set up as Facebook events. Many of them seem to have been advertised in local papers (we found examples in publications like Cornwall Live, Warrington Guardian and Oxford Mail).

There isn’t much point in us listing individual Facebook events, as the idea is that you should go and seek out a Christmas market local to wherever you are. By searching your town, city or country alongside ‘virtual Christmas market’ it should become clear whether or not anyone is running an event local to you.

The Facebook groups and events that we’ve looked at seem to be run in a similar way. You simply sign up as attending or interested and watch for news of that market’s schedule and sellers. It seems like a really easy way to support vendors in your local area and feel like you’re a part of the wider community during this second lockdown.

Enjoying your home this Christmas

With the second English lockdown running to early December, we wanted to write something to spread some Christmas cheer and community during what is likely to be a difficult time for many people and businesses across the country.

We have a couple more blog posts in this vein coming in the next few weeks, which we hope will bring a smile to your face and help you to enjoy your home during this lockdown period.

KLG Rutland is still open for business, so please get in touch with us if you’re looking into new doors, windows or conservatories over the winter.