Belfast’s annual Christmas market is returning to City Hall Gardens again this year, and is set to open at noon on 16th November.

The Belfast Christmas Market attracts visitors from across Europe and has become a significant contributor to the local economy. Just over 1m visitors came to the market in 2018 – 184,228 from out of state, spending £38.9m. The overall gross economic impact of the 2018 market was just over €87m.

The Christmas market is operated by Market Place and sees 32 nationalities from all over the world offering unusual foods and gift ideas: crepes from France, Dutch pancakes, Belgian chocolates, ostrich, wild boar and crocodile burgers, bratwurst from the Schwenkegrill, Spanish paella, and sweets from Italy.

The market’s 20 chalets will host over 90 traders selling food, jewellery, clothing and crafts. The food court, with bench style seating, also makes a return, as does the vintage helter skelter.

In addition, this year one of the chalets will be host to LOAF catering, a social enterprise bakery set up by the NOW Group to help people with learning difficulties and autism into employment.

In partnership with the NOW Group, two new initiatives have been introduced for people with accessibility challenges. On the Donegall Square East side of the market, a quiet room has been created to offer a calm space when the market becomes overcrowded.

In addition, market traders have received awareness training about the JAM Card. The JAM Card, which stands for ‘Just A Minute’, is a social innovation from NOW Group that offers a discreet way for users to tell people that sometimes they need a little extra time and patience. The JAM Card is available in the quiet room at the market as a credit card sized card and also as downloadable app for smartphones.

To keep track of market additions, and for weather updates, follow the official Facebook page at Belfast Continental Christmas Market.

Belfast Christmas Market will be at Belfast City Hall from 12 noon on Saturday 16th November until 6pm on Sunday 22nd December.

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