Retailers from across Aberdeenshire are helping ensure that, despite what has been a challenging year, the spirit of Christmas is still strong in Aberdeen.

They are taking part in the indoor Christmas Market which opens in Bon Accord Aberdeen this Thursday (November 26).

Almost 50 businesses, from small independent makers and producers to national brands such as Lush, have signed up for the market which is being brought to the city centre by Aberdeen Inspired. Based in the lower mall of Bon Accord Aberdeen next to Top Shop, the market will be open from 26 November until December 23. The market will showcase the products and services from around 25 stallholders each weekend.

As well as giving festive shoppers access to a fantastic array of local, unique products and services, the market will raise more than ten thousand pounds of funding for Charlie House as Aberdeen Inspired is donating all the stall fees directly to the charity.

“Christmas will definitely look different for everyone this year,” said Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired. “But people still love the magic of Christmas shopping, the atmosphere, the festive décor, the Christmas lights, the real pleasure of finding that perfect gift for friends and family and there is no better and safer place to do this than Aberdeen City Centre.

“We have been working hard to ensure shoppers visiting the city centre in the lead up to the festive period can experience the Christmas spirit in a way that’s safe and welcoming.

“The indoor Christmas Market is part of the superb festive retail offering our city offers to shoppers. It’s so important that people buy their gifts from shops and businesses in the city centre, spending directly in the city with our retailers will make a real difference and support local jobs and livelihoods. The indoor Christmas market not only gives small, local businesses an opportunity to showcase their products to a new audience, but it is raising valuable funds for Charlie House.

“The charitable sector has been badly hit by the pandemic. Charlie House supports children with complex disabilities and life limiting conditions. Demand for their services has risen by more than 80% but donations and fundraising has declined by more than 70% so supporting their work is vital.”

The market will operate from 10am to 6pm over four Thursday-Sunday weekends until December 20 and will also be open from Monday, December 21 until Wednesday, December 23.

The layout of the market has been carefully designed to provide a safe space for businesses and shoppers, with limited numbers of traders each day and socially distanced stalls.

The focus has been on providing opportunities for local, arts, crafts and gourmet pre-packaged produce makers to showcase their wares.

Ben Durack is one of the directors of Origin, which was set up in 2019 and operates from a test hub at RGU. The company recycles waste plastic collected locally into new products. It has been working in collaboration with BrewDog Castlegate, collecting plastic waste from the venue and transforming it into a BrewDog limited edition planter.

It will launch its product, a mini planter made from locally collected and locally recycled waste plastic, to the public for the first time at the Christmas Market.

“Like many businesses around the world just now, COVID has had a significant impact on our business and changed our timelines notably,” said Ben. “Having a physical Christmas Market is a fantastic opportunity to raise the spirits in the city and we wanted to be a part of that. We have been working hard over the last two years to get origin to where it is today and could not be more excited to launch our first product. To be able to do this physically and engage with the public is fantastic.”

Ica Headlam, of Big Up the Deen, usually sells his Aberdeen-themed prints, badges, beanies, and mugs through her Etsy shop.

“I decided to take part in the Christmas Market as I recognise that for us all 2020 has been a difficult and challenging year,” he said. “An event such as this is important in bringing something positive to the city which is definitely needed and also supports local makers at the same time.”

Clare Terris, of Newburgh-based Blue Wasp Creative, sells her studio-printed gifts and home wares by taking commissions for bespoke items through local shops and selling online via her website and social media.

“I took part in last year’s Christmas market in the quad for the first time and loved every minute of it,” she said. “It will be different this year for obvious reasons but I’m looking forward to helping people find those special little presents that will make someone’s Christmas and perhaps spark a wee smile on someone’s face.”

The Christmas Market is also being supported by high street favourite, Lush.

“We think it’s a fantastic opportunity for our customers to find another space to explore our products whilst also being able to see and purchase from other local independent sellers and brands at the same time,” said store manager Austin Christie.“We think it’s going to be a great place for all of Aberdeen’s Christmas shoppers to experience what our local high street has to offer in a very safe environment.”