Dec. 20 - Traditional Christmas markets have been part of Germany's culture for centuries but more recently they've been spreading further afield. Hayley Platt went to one in the heart of London to find out what the appeal is, and whether they're here to stay.
Traditional German Christmas markets can be traced back centuries. Selling everything from Bratwurst to handicrafts. They're a sign the festive season is finally here. But you don't have to travel to Germany to visit one. Mark Lovegrove has been bringing the Christmas markets from Germany to London for more than a decade. SOUNDBITE: Mark Lovegrove, saying (English): "It started about 10 years ago with one or two stalls in Covent Garden and increased every year with different locations. The second one was in the Millennium Dome and from there on we just grew throughout the country." And it's not just Britain embracing the idea. It's fast becoming one of Germany's biggest exports with markets now in most European cities and even America. Corinna Schmidt has been coming to London to sell traditional Christmas crafts for the past 6 years. SOUNDBITE: Corinna Schmidt, saying (English) "Our stuff is getting more and more popular so even the younger ones, they get to know what we sell, they know the pyramids already and so we're doing very well. People like our things and we're happy and next year we'll try to expand even more Christmas decorations from Germany." As day becomes night people come pouring in. SOUNDBITE: Frank and Christine Skillington, saying (English): "It's good, yeah a really nice atmosphere." SOUNDBITE: Tessa, shopper, saying (English): "The food is wonderful of course and the bits and bobs for Christmas." SOUNDBITE: Unidentified man, saying (English): "Gluhwein, it's basically why I'm here." Cash strapped shoppers have slowly been deserting Britain's high streets. But research shows nearly a quarter of consumers like shopping for presents at Christmas Markets. Mintel's Richard Perks says there are advantages for both. SOUNDBITE: Richard Perks, Mintel, saying (English): "For the most part Christmas markets are in town centres and they pull people in and they increase the attraction of the town centre and it's exactly the sort of thing that town centres should be doing much more often to make them more attractive to bring people in." There's no shortage of shoppers at London's Southbank Christmas market. And although the UK may be relative newcomers compared to their Teutonic cousins, they certainly seem to be getting a taste for it.