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Market's the wheel thing

Decorations, food and gifts on offer to Christmas shoppers

By Victoria O'Hara

Ulster shoppers flocked to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Christmas yesterday as the Continental Market returned to Belfast.

The grounds of the City Hall came alive with visitors browsing among the stalls from across Europe offering a wide range of food, gifts and festive decorations.

And Santa has also taken up residence in a specially built grotto until the market ends on December 18.

Proceeds will go to the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice.

Members of the public were able to enjoy many dishes including Spanish paella, Tyrolean dumplings, Dutch cheeses, crepes from Brittany, and giant bratwurst sausages from Germany.

And there is a special section showcasing some of Northern Ireland's best food products.

This includes Country Harvest's delicatessen, Suki Teas, Archana Indian Cuisine and the Rocket and Relish gourmet burger bar.

Liqueur coffees, German and continental beers and local brews from the Hilden Brewery are also available.

Markus Kochem's wine stand, which produces the wine from their vineyards along the Moselle Valley, is also among the traders in the grounds of the City Hall.

The Flying Dutchman, Gradus van de Wardt, has also returned with his huge display of bulbs and perfectly formed Christmas trees.

Councillor Michael Browne, chairman of Belfast City Council's development committee, said this year's market is set to be bigger and better than ever.

"The Continental Market is definitely one of the highlights of Belfast's Christmas calendar and its arrival is eagerly anticipated by not only people from the city but also much further afield," he said.

"This year's market promises to be bigger and better than ever, and no doubt once again will prove to be a popular seasonal attraction."

Opening hours are 10am-8pm Monday to Thursday, 10am-10pm Friday and Saturday, and 1pm-6pm on Sunday.

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