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Information for visitors

After 1,000 years of a regular market, St Albans now has a Christmas one with up to 60 stalls. The event takes place in and around the beautiful Vintry Garden – a walled garden adjacent to the magnificent 11th-century St Albans Cathedral.

The 2016 Christmas Market will run from Thursday 24th November to Sunday 18th December 2016.

Visitors will enjoy browsing the high quality produce on offer in up to 60 traditional wooden chalets outside the Cathedral and in the Vintry Garden. The pretty Cathedral quarter sits right at the centre of a triangle of St Albans ‘oldest’ treasures: the only working Medieval Clock Tower; the oldest Public School in the country; and, for visitors to the market who fancy a pint of real ale, the oldest pub in the UK, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, just at the foot of the Abbey Orchard, a stone’s throw from the Cathedral.  

Entertainers, twinkly lights and plenty of Christmas cheer will add to the festive atmosphere – and don’t miss Carols on the Hour, on the hour, every hour from 11.00 to 16.00 on the last Saturday before Christmas in St Albans Cathedral.

It's easy to get here too. We're just 22 minutes from London St Pancras, a short hop off the M1 and M25 motorways, within easy reach of London Luton and Heathrow airports.  

Come and visit St Albans this festive season, and rediscover Christmas.
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Dates and opening times

Thursday 24th November to Sunday 18th December 2016.

Opening times:
11am – 6pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
11am – 8pm on Thursday & Friday
10am – 8pm on Saturday

10am – 6pm on Sunday
The market is also open until 8pm on Sunday 27th November as part of the Switch On Christmas event on St Peter's Street. 


Entertainment

Meraki Christmas Mini FestivalNEW FOR 2016! Introducing the Meraki Christmas Mini-Festival at the Christmas Market, with music, films, spa activities and performers in their fabulous tipi stage! See the Meraki entertainment schedule at: www.merakifestival.com

On Wednesday 30 November, the entertainment programme is extended to 8pm for a special ‘blues night’ featuring Simon McBride & Jo Harman.

Everything in the lineup of entertainment and activities is COMPLETELY FREE but they operate on a first-come-first-served basis. There are no admission charges and no additional costs for individual activities.



Santa's Grotto

Santa's Grotto 190x150The lovely Father Christmas will be at his grotto Tuesday to Sunday. Monday is his day off!

Grotto opening hours:
Tues – Fri 1pm – 6pm
Sat & Sun 10am – 6pm

£5 per child including a quality, traditional gift. You can take your own photo at no cost. No need to book in advance. Just drop by the Meraki Tent (Tues-Fri) or the grotto (Sat-Sun) to purchase your tickets.

Travel

Getting to the market
Help reduce congestion by travelling sustainably. Find out about all the ways of travelling to St Albans here.

It's easy to get to St Albans. We're just 22 minutes from London St Pancras, a short hop off the M1 and M25 motorways, within easy reach of London Luton and Heathrow airports. See our Travel and Maps section for details.



FAQs

Can I take my dog into the Christmas Market? 
As this is a public place, we cannot and would not want to prevent visitors from bringing dogs. However, as the event is likely to become extremely crowded at peak times, dog-owners may want to be aware that their dogs might become agitated, and could become a tripping hazard, resulting in injury to animal and members of the public alike.

Are the same stalls there throughout the 25 days? 
Don’t forget that St Albans Christmas Market will be different every time you visit. While some stallholders are with us for the whole time, others are here for just a few days! Check back and see what’s new – we’ll be updating you with new arrivals through Facebook and Twitter #VintryVillage. The main change-around days will be Mondays 5th and 12th December, so come and check out what’s new!

Why do you close on 18 December?
We are delighted that the Cathedral and Christmas Market work so closely to enable the festivities in the Vintry Garden. We are aware, though, that the closer we get to Christmas itself, the busier the Cathedral gets. We therefore close on 18 December to give us time to deinstall the Market safely and promptly in order to restore the site to public use over the Christmas holidays and avoid the costs of keeping the site closed and secure over Christmas. If you still have shopping to do on that last week, make sure to visit our Christmas Charter Market which will be running on St Peter’s Street from 16 to 24 December (but not Monday 19 December).

Why is there no snow?
We are doing our best to create a festive atmosphere but even we can’t control the vagaries of the English weather systems! Don’t worry, though. There are plenty of places to keep warm and dry, not least of all the fabulous Meraki Festival tent in the Vintry Garden. Check out the full programme of activities here to make sure you get to see all that they are showing, screening, displaying and showcasing over the 25 days.

Can you stay open any later?
We love our location in the picturesque Vintry Garden but we are also well aware of our lovely residents who live nearby. We work hard to balance the desire for a lively atmosphere in a central location with the enjoyment of the residents and Cathedral who are on our doorstep. We have extended the opening hours this year in answer to public demand: Thursday, Friday and Saturday we’re in full swing until 8pm. We have even squeezed in a couple of extra late-night openings with special performances on the Meraki stage on Sunday 27 November and Wednesday 30 November too: check out www.merakifestival.com for more details. If the party hasn't stopped by the time the Market closes, don't you worry. With a long history of inns, ale-houses and hostelries, there is no shortage of places to carry on partying. 

It is the real Father Christmas?
Why not come and ask him yourself! He meets children of all ages, and the VERY good children receive a small gift. He’s brought with him gender-neutral, high quality, traditional toys with him this year so you can be sure you and your child will be delighted. We hope you’ve been very VERY good this year… Visitors are welcome to take their own photographs.

Do I have to pay to get into St Albans Christmas Market?
No! There is no admission fee to enter the Market or any of the Meraki activities. It will cost £5 per child to visit Father Christmas and get a gift.

How can I locate my lost property?
For all lost property queries, please email events@stalbans.gov.uk

What age is the Market aimed at?
St Albans Christmas Market is for everyone. Young and old love to see Santa Claus! Meraki have a full programme of entertainment in their Festival Tipi, and there is plenty to eat in Pudding Place, creating a perfect atmosphere for after-work gatherings.

How accessible is your site for wheelchairs, buggies and mobility scooters?
Most of St Albans Christmas Market is sufficiently level for wheeled mobility, with only gentle inclines. There are a few steps by Mistletoe Mews but you can access all areas through various domestic-width doorways. Please note, we do not have an official buggy park. We have not included ramps to each individual chalets as this would compromise the space available due to the uneven topography of the site. All traders are briefed to do all they can to assist disabled visitors. 

What about toilet facilities?
There are temporary toilets in the North Churchyard, which is reached via Waxhouse Gate. A number of accessible toilet facilities are available around the City.

Photography and filming at St Albans Christmas Market
Photography and filming on site is only allowed for personal use. If you have any commercial or editorial photography or filming requests, please contact us to request accreditation in advance of arriving at: liz.marcy@stalbans.gov.uk. All amateur photographer groups must also request photography accreditation in advance of arriving on site. We thank you for your co-operation.

Sustainability policy
Visitors are strongly encouraged to travel to the Christmas Market on foot, bike or by public transport. St Albans Christmas Market will provide suitable facilities for visitors, traders and operators to recycle their waste. Power, lighting and water usage is minimised wherever possible. Traders and operators will be encouraged to procure products from sustainable sources where possible and the vast majority of the Christmas Market infrastructure is permanent or is re-used year after year. St Albans Christmas Market uses local staff and crew where possible and encourages traders and operators to do the same.

Comments and feedback
We're always interested to hear your feedback - if there's anything that isn't covered in the above, you can email us on events@stalbans.gov.uk events@stalbans.gov.uk


Accommodation

The Where to Stay section of this website gives details of all the hotels, historic inns and guest houses around St Albans along with photos and ratings.


Visitor Information Centre

Located in the foyer of the Alban Arena, our Visitor Information Centre can help you find a place to stay and recommend some must-see sights for you to enjoy while you're in St Albans.

Telephone us: +44 (0)1727 864511

Write to us:
St Albans Visitor Information Centre
Alban Arena 
Civic Close
St Albans
AL1 3LD 

Email us: tic@stalbans.gov.uk