Worldwide flavours back for Christmas

Traders are putting the finishing touches to stalls offering flavours from around the world this Christmas. The stallholders have come from far and wide to sell their wares at the annual festive markets in Manchester city centre.

Helmut Pfafflin, first came to Manchester from his native Osnabruck, Germany, to sell wooden Christmas decorations in 1999, and he has been back every year since. He said: “I love the people, they are always really keen to chat. The city has a very cosmopolitan atmosphere and that’s great for me because I’m a country guy. I usually do a really good trade here and people seem to like my goods.”

Mr Pfafflin spends the year touring markets in Germany and England selling festive nutcrackers and “smokers” crafted wooden figures smoking pipes which are traditionally given to miners in East Germany. He said: “The priests would put a coin into them and the miners would take them to work for luck, but now we have different smokers for different professions. They are usually very popular in England.”

While it is a strictly German affair in St Ann’s Square where shoppers can enjoy lebkuchen and bratwurst washed down with spicy Gluhwein while they browse for traditional glassware, pottery and jewellery stallholders from across Europe are setting out their stalls in Albert Square.

Artist Paula Arcos, from Madrid, is staying with friends in Whalley Range during her first trip to Manchester to sell her hand-stitched dolls and handbags. She said: “My friend worked here last year and he said it would be a good thing for me to try. I only arrived in Manchester this week but I really like the city. I used to live in Leeds but there are many more cultural attractions here.”

Other stalls will sell continental cheeses, fresh pancakes and cakes, along with gifts from Holland, France, Switzerland, Spain and for the first time Russia.

Wolfram Oehler’s Crystal Palace stall is one of the most striking. With tiny lamps twinkling around it, the graphic designer from Frankfurt sells a range of salt, fluoride, amethyst and jasper crystals, up to amazing 50kg blocks. Wolfram, said: “This is my fifth year. I love the people’s humour and dry wit.”

Those with less adventurous tastes can enjoy the English bitter and hog roast stands. And for the first time this year, a World Christmas Market featuring craft products is being set up in Brazennose Street.