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7 Best of British markets

7 Best of British markets
Whether you're looking for antiques, food, collectors' items or just random junk, our rich heritage has produced some of the finest markets in the world. Here are 7 of them.

Edinburgh Farmers’ Market


Edinburgh Market
Traders have long sold their goods in the shadow of the city’s spectacular castle, which dates back to 1130—and it’s a tradition that shows no sign of abating. Edinburgh Farmers’ Market takes place on Castle Terrace every Saturday and attracts a huge crowd with its locally sourced goods. The market is now in its 15th year and champions the very best in Scottish produce, from knitwear to organic water buffalo and lobster.
The surrounding area is also brimming with history—nearby Grassmarket was a thriving market place in medieval times, as well asbeing the site of public executions.

Billingsgate Fish Market


Billingsgate market
This hub in the heart of the East End is the biggest inland market of its kind in Britain. And with a history dating back to the 16th century, it’s an essential cog in the industry’s wheel.
Billingsgate is served by almost every UK port, with fish transported through the night to arrive for trading, which starts at 4am. As well as being famed for shifting 25,000 tons of fish each year, the traders have also attracted their fair share of attention: the term “Billingsgate” became a byword for crude language in the 16th century, applied to both traders and their wives.
It’s still quite lively today, of course, and you’ll find lots of family businesses that have continued from generation to generation—all of which can be seen on a pre-arranged guided tour.

Ford Airfield Market

West Sussex

Ford Airfield Market
Looking for an old-style prosthetic leg, a ventriloquist’s dummy, or even a suit of armour? The chances are you’ll find what you’re after—and plenty of other random stuff—at one of the hundreds of stalls here. A market and two huge car-boot sales are held throughout the week all year round, come rain or shine.
“It can take a few hours to get around,” says Kay Urquhart, a regular visitor. “If you get there early, you’ll see everything from boxes of photos to milk pales and collectors’ items. You can even get your car washed while you’re wandering.”
The market has been running for 25 years and is a well-known treasure trove for antiques experts looking for a bargain. While you’re trawling the stalls, you might even see the BBC filming their show Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

St George’s Market


St George's Market
Follow your nose along May Street in Belfast and the smells of delicious home-made food from across the globe will land you in St George’s Market. With three different weekly markets accompanied by fresh food and live music, St George’s was once voted the best in the UK.
When Belfast became an important port in the 17th century, the range of goods grew and trading thrived. This covered market in the city centre was completed in 1896, and the historic trading place—which once encompassed a slaughterhouse—is now one of Belfast’s oldest attractions, thanks to its lively atmosphere, wide range of goods and live music performances.
Visit on Friday for the Variety Market, featuring anything from Atlantic sharks to zips. Saturday, meanwhile, covers foods, crafts and gardens, while Sunday sees the addition of antiques.

Aberdeen Country Fair


Aberdeen Country Fair
Running the length of Belmont Street in the heart of Aberdeen, the Country Fair is a true celebration of all things foodie. The traders that gather on the last Saturday of every month share a passion for quality produce, which is sourced locally and sold in many cases by long-standing, family-run businesses.
With around 40 stalls, selling everything from haggises and game to artisan breads, the Country Fair has become one of the largest markets in Scotland since its inception in 2000, and now attracts around 30,000 visitors to its vibrant, once-monthly events.

Kirkgate Market


Kirkgate market
Since its inception in 1857, bustling Kirkgate Market has remained a key part of Leeds’ retail scene and a favourite of Leeds locals. With around 800 stalls indoors and out, running six days a week, the market is a mecca for bargain hunters attracted by the good prices and lively traders. Many of the stalls and shops are run by long-term residents with a passion for market trading.
“My father had it before me and my grandfather had it before that, so it’s a traditional family business,” says Leo Burke of Mr Meat’s butchers.
The large student population in the city is also wise to the great value on offer at Kirkgate, and many of the traders offer student discounts.
“A lot of young people have moved into the area,” says Leo, “and if they visit my shop, I can guarantee they’ll come back—they can’t believe the difference in price compared to supermarkets.”

Sunbury Antiques Market


Sunbury market
This celebrated fortnightly market is a must-visit event in the collectors’ calendar. It takes place beside Kempton race track and is run by Edward Cruttenden, whose late mother began the market in 1979.
“I’ve been involved since the beginning,” says Edward. “We attract a global customer base but maintain free admission.”
With around 700 stalls inside and out, there’s a great deal for collectors, designers and prop buyers to get excited about.
“Many continental stallholders arrive here loaded with their own regional offerings,” claims Edward. “Some of the pieces have persuaded some British dealers to give up the cross-Channel run altogether!” 

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