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Sweet taste of success as Christmas market returns to Belfast City Hall

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Christmas market at Belfast City Hall

Christmas market at Belfast City Hall

PETER MORRISON

Christmas market at Belfast City Hall

Mulled wine, German Bratwurst sausages and Santa’s Grotto.

It is a combination that for six years has resulted in the sweet taste of festive success for Belfast’s Christmas Continental Market.

And as thousands of people once again flocked over the weekend to enjoy the first taste, sight and smells of the Yuletide period, it has already been heralded the most successful to date.

On Saturday and Sunday the organisers who bring the market to the City Hall said 40,000 people walked through the gates.

And by December 19 when the stalls pack up, close to one million visitors are expected to have enjoyed the beer, ostrich burgers and festive cheer.

When the first month-long Christmas market opened in 2005 there were concerns it could affect local traders. But it was a complete success.

Now every year from mid-November the grounds of City Hall are transformed as they are styled to look like a little alpine village of wooden chalets.

The market attracts people who want to relax after a hard day at work, groups on their Christmas night out, shoppers stopping for a coffee or families out to enjoy the atmosphere.

Even presenter Christine Bleakley used her Twitter account to say she was excited about it returning.

“Can't wait to see Belfast and the continental market when I get home,” she tweeted.

Allan Hartwell, director of Market Place Europe, the company

which brings the market here, said there is “no doubt” everyone looks forward to its arrival.

“We've been coming to Belfast now for six consecutive years and each year we feel like we are coming home,” he said.

Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile said the market has also helped to transform the image of the city.

“It has established itself as a popular place to go, a place people can go and shop — a place people can go and enjoy the atmosphere.

“It offers a lot but also offers practical benefits of drawing people into the city and in terms of tough economic times that can only be a good thing.”

For the Lord Mayor, however, there is one reason why he enjoys the Christmas market.

“The burgers — you can’t beat them!”

Belfast Telegraph