As Americans are busy preparing for Thanksgiving this week, I am already celebrating Christmas at the Continental Christmas Market in Belfast. Last Saturday night the Christmas tree was lit outside City Hall and all of the stalls of the market were set up. Signs all over the town spell out “Merry Christmas Belfast” and “Be Festive”. The sounds and smells of Christmas are in the air, and it’s so wonderful!
Last night I went for the first time to check it out. I had heard so many good things about the Christmas Market and was excited to see if it lived up to my expectations. It was even better than what I had imagined! City Hall was all lit up and there were loads of people everywhere. I was surprised how busy it was for a Tuesday night. I went in a group with six of my friends and we were all very excited to try the foods and get in the Christmas mood.
There was food stalls from all over the world including Germany, France, India and America. I tried gluhwein, which is a traditional German spicy mulled wine that is warmed up. It was really nice and was great for keeping my fingers warm as I wrapped them around the edges of the cup. My friend from Germany informed me that the gluhwein served at Christmas markets in Germany tastes even sweeter and is better than the one I tried. I also bought a crepe filled with Nutella from the French bakery stall. Of course it was delicious! Although the embarrassment of getting sticky Nutella all over my fingers and face will make me think twice next time I attempt to eat it in public. I also rounded off the night over-eating with a packet of roasted cinnamon almonds, which were incredibly yummy. There were so many other tempting treats for sale including chocolate, cakes and buns.
The beer tent was the most heavily populated area of the market. It was packed with people jostling for space. There are so many different types and flavors of beers. My friend tried a strawberry flavored beer.
The most unique stall I saw was serving burgers… but not just any type of burgers. They were selling burgers made out of unique pieces of meat such as: kangaroo, crocodile and ostrich! One of my friends sampled the kangaroo burger and he liked it. I’m usually one for being willing to try new foods, but never in a million years will I try kangaroo meat. It just does not appeal to me!
The entertainment for the children was a merry-go-round and lots of stalls selling little hand-made toys and treats. I really liked the atmosphere of the market because it was really family oriented and encouraged people to come out with their family and friends to soak up the Christmas spirit.
Despite the chilly temperatures, the entire time I was at the market I had a big smile on my face and felt like Ralphie from the movie, “A Christmas Story” as he looked in the toy store window at the present he wants Santa to bring him. Because of all the fun and festivities getting ready for Christmas, it’s making me miss my mom, dad and sister back in Philly even more. I can’t believe it’s already the end of November and I’ve been away for three months!
I’ll definitely go to the market again before it closes and next time I’m going to try a spin on Irish coffee and have hot chocolate with Baileys! 🙂