Last Thursday, for one night only, the Grainger Market threw open their gates for a late night shopping extravaganza which quickly became Newcastle's festive shopping event of the year! With mulled wine warming my hands I pottered my way round the beautiful market soaking up the atmosphere, enjoying the live entertainment and taking advantage of the great offers.
Starting with the balcony that towers over the market, we got brilliant views that you'd never usually get to see. As we enjoyed our prime people watching spot we learnt some really interesting facts about the market and what an important part it plays in Newcastle's rich history. From the brides and grooms of days gone by who used to sashay their way between the aisles, to the lady who comes in every single week to buy herself a scone - the Grainger Market has been a part of Newcastle life for generations.
The sense of community in the Grainger Market really came alive for me as I got an exclusive look at the Air Raid Shelter hidden beneath the floors. Many people probably don't realise it's there but a series of tunnels and rooms can be found under the market that sheltered people from bomb attacks during the war. Shown around by a guide I was amazed by how long the tunnels were and how many people would have squashed themselves into such cramp conditions.
Not much is known about the people who may have used the shelters but they have been left in great condition and include benches, the netty (that's the toilet to those not familiar with North East lingo!) and even some grafitti. I really got a feel of how nights underground may have been.
The Shelter is very rarely open to the public but if you ever get a chance to go and have a look for yourself I highly recommend it, the experience was fantastic.
If you're looking for some truly unique treats and gifts for Christmas then the Grainger Market is the place to head. Whether you want a turkey for your Christmas lunch or a Christmas tree for your living room, the Market is a "one stop shop" for ticking everything off your festive to do list.
You can pick up some great stocking fillers from Scented Melts, buy a new handbag and scarf for your Mam from Madame Butterfly and unique presents from Kota whose Scandinavian home wear and gifts are bang on trend.
Of course, for a lot of us, Christmas is all about the food and booze and new shop La Casa Delicatessen has the perfect ingredients for a Christmas Eve feast with a fully stocked wine shop and a fridge full of gourmet hams, sausage, cheese and oils that are bound to impress your friends and family.
When all of the shopping has left your legs feeling tired there are so many places in the Market to enjoy a bite to eat or a hot cup of coffee and I know that the special festive drinks at Curious Leaves are going to wow the Grainger Market's Christmas shoppers.
Feeling full of the festive fuzz I skipped my way out of the market with a French Oven sausage roll in one hand and a Baileys cupcake from the Pet Lamb Patisserie in the other. I just can't help myself!
So when you're stressing over your Christmas shopping this month don't forget to visit the Grainger Market, you'll be surprised at what you can pick up!