Festive Christmas Markets

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Claire D’All, Marketing Manager

Christmas is the most festive time of the year, a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate in many ways. A very popular activity all over the world is to visit a Christmas market, whether it be in Strasbourg, Vienna, Krakow, Edinburgh or Berlin. The question today is, are Christmas markets accessible for people living with a disability?

Claire infront of the Christmas lights

I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to visit any markets out with Scotland however, this year I have already visited the George Square and St Enoch Square in Glasgow and I am planning on visiting Edinburgh’s Christmas market in the new year. Now you might be thinking but Christmas is over by then? It is, but I always feel I get the holiday blues at the start of the new year, so I’ve decided to visit before it finishes on the 5th of January.

When I visited Glasgow’s Christmas markets, I was a little disappointed that I was unable to get access to the huts that were selling many festive ornaments and food. The counters were either too high or there was a step to get inside huts. There were more food stalls than anything at both markets in Glasgow, which smelt amazing and Christmas music was blasting around every corner. There weren’t any seats outside in the market at George Square to eat food, so I decided to sit in one of the bars to have lunch and warm up a little. Now there are 3 different bars at George Square market and one at St Enoch Square. The St Enoch Square bar did have a little step, however it was manageable to get up in my wheelchair. Unfortunately, two of the bars at George Square had quite high steps at their entrances, so I was only able to choose to visit one out of three. It still had a slight step to get inside but thankfully I was able to overcome this by taking a good run up and jetting inside.

A Christmas stall
Slightly step at bar

The added bonus of the markets being within the city centre is you are to able go between the market and the high street shops and can make a real day out. I planned to visit the market on a Monday afternoon to avoid a busy rush, I think it was the perfect time because it was quiet and easy to drive around in my wheelchair. The only accessible problem for me, apart from steps at certain huts and inaccessible bars, would be the lack of Changing Place toilets. The accessible toilet that is within the market is an accessible portacabin which isn’t accessible for my needs and many others. There is however a Changing Place in the St Enoch Centre beside St Enoch Square market.

During my previous visit to Edinburgh’s Christmas market I have felt a little overwhelmed with the busyness of the market. It was harder to get into stalls due to the amount of people, and again most stalls had a step, so I wasn’t able to easily access them. Unfortunately, I was not able to visit every area of the market and I had to turn back on myself because there were steps to get to different areas. There are much welcomed purposely built spacious accessible toilets onsite and there is also a Changing Place toilet across the road at the Waverly station’s Wetherspoons. Even though I could not get to every area, I am still looking forward to visiting again in the newyear.

In the future I hope to tick more Christmas markets off my bucket list. I think the market I would like to visit the most is Berlin. Have you visited any Christmas markets this year? If so, how accessible did you find it?

Follow Claire D'All:

I graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Applied Computing. During my studies the field that I had a great interest in was web development however since graduating I have also become very interested in accessibility. I was born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and since the age of 3 I have used a wheelchair 24/7. Due to my disability I have always come across problems regarding accessibility, which is why it’s such a passion for me.

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