Christmas Markets 2018

Categories:Conventions
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Here at PlayBox Designs, we like to constantly come up with new and bright ideas.  However, not all of those ideas actually turn out to be that bright.  One of those ideas was to have a go at the Christmas Market scene.  Seems legit right?  I mean, MCM Birmingham is always our last gig of the year and then we have a massive empty space right up until March the following year.  Christmas Markets seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a bit of extra cash to tie us over during the winter months and to also help with the Christmas fund.

So, excitedly I signed us up to do a couple of Christmas Markets.  The first being the Brighton Palace Pier Christmas Market.  It was a weekend event, situated around Horatio’s Bar and cost of the gazebo was included.  I thought it would be the perfect place to sell all the jewellery and accessories that were non-fandom related, you know, the pretty pretty stuff that would be ideal for such an event.  What could possibly go wrong?  Oh yeah, the good old British weather! That’s what!

My Daddy (an honourable member of PlayBox ever since he helped set up a couple of years ago for the Brighton tattoo convention) had very kindly offered to take myself and Bret (along with all our gear) so that we wouldn’t have to worry about parking.  Brilliant stuff! What wasn’t brilliant stuff was the fact it was pissing down.  However, on the road there, the radio assured us that the sun would be shining by 2pm.  Okay so not so bad then.

We arrived at the Brighton Palace Pier, welcomed by a dude who was a dead ringer for Ezekiel from The Walking Dead (I kid you not).  Then an extremely helpful chap loaded all of our gear onto a large trolley and off we headed to Horatio’s Bar.  You may not be familiar with Brighton Pier but Horatio’s Bar is literally down the far end and feels like a 10 hour walk to get there.  Even more so, in the rain and wind.  I could only look on in despair seeing all of my boxes getting soaked in the rain.  We eventually got to the Bar and was shown to our own personal gazebo.  What we didn’t bargain for was just how strong the wind was further down the pier, which of course blew the rain straight into our gazebo.

Obviously there is literally no way at all, we can set up in wet conditions as the stock would get absolutely ruined.  There was nothing to do but sit there, in our zipped up gazebo and just wait.

Fast forward a couple of hours, throw in an overpriced cup of tea, hot chocolate and some fries (about £20 altogether) and what does that leave you with? Absolutely no change in the weather conditions whatsoever.  We were sat there FREEZING cold wrapped in our table cloths with wet feet and an overwhelming urge to throw ourselves over the pier.

Yes, that’s really Bret under that!

It was bitterly cold and pretty obvious to us by 2pm (we had been there 5 hours already) that we were never going to be able to set up.  By this point I was on the phone to my Dad, literally begging him to come and pick us up already. I’d had enough! So had Bret! And bless him for getting up early and giving up his Saturday for me.

My Dad is coming to get us! HURRAY!!

We had to wait an excruciating half hour for my Dad to finish his lunch and then another half hour before it was worth us packing up and making a move to the front of the pier.  Let me tell you, the walk back was just the most dismal journey ever.  The wooden slats on the pier made it almost impossible for us to move our buggy (we had literally everthing piled on our small little trolley).  We had to stop every 2 steps to stop the boxes from toppling over and it got to the point where I just said to Bret, lets just fcuk this lot straight over the side of the pier!

Everything was fine until we reached the midway point and then of course, 1 step too far, too fast and all the boxes came tumbling down, along with the necklace stand (with all the necklaces still on).  It was that exact moment that I totally lost my sense of humour.  By the time we got to the front of the pier, the trolley was knackered beyond repair (the tyres had basically fallen off) and I was ready to burst into tears.  Luckily my Daddy was already there and he always has words of wisdom for times like this and has preached this to me since I was a kid.  Just say BOLLOCKS!  Yep, he’s taught me this for years and infact made me shout it out a few times when he saw how upset I was.  Gotta love my Daddy, he’s amazing!

Needless to say, Bret and I decided we would not be returning the next day (even if a shock heatwave had been promised) and we consoled ourselves later that night with a celebratory Chinese anyway.


Our next attempt at a Christmas Market was a couple of weeks later in Horsham.  Now, I’d been watching the weather report like a hawk and had already managed to re-schedule with the organiser once because of bad weather.  This day, however, the rain wasn’t due until 4pm which was around the time we would be packing up so definitely worth the risk.

Once again, Bret gave up his Saturday for me and off we set, nice and early to Horsham.  Upon arrival, we got shown to our “OPEN” gazebo by the organizer.  Determined to put on a positive face, we decided we would set up and make the most of it.  Setting up was was a complete nightmare though, once we off-loaded our boxes, it then took us half an hour to find a hidden car-park which was then a good 15 minute walk back to our gazebo.  It wasn’t raining but the wind was certainly against us and quite literally infact as our table was smack in the open away from the row of shops offering protection to the other traders.

Bret clearly amused by the great weather

Now I had warned Bret to dress appropriately but to him, that meant a zip up hoodie.  He was freezing and actually stole my coat.  He was that cold, he didn’t care how he looked although to be honest, it did quite suit him. I was so cold I did spend 10 minutes inside the nearest charity store wondering if I should lose a few quid on a sweater or cardigan.  I may have even been tempted but in the end, the smell put me off.

As I walked back to our table, what should happen? Yep, it started to rain! Could you believe it?  It didn’t take 10 minutes before realising that I’d already had enough.  No way was this being a repeat peformance of Brighton! I decided right there and them that we would be packing up and leaving.  The organiser did offer me a pitch for the next day but to be honest, Bret and I had had enough of Christmas Markets to last us a lifetime.

The best part about the disasterous morning was the lovely traffic warden (and I never thought I would be using the word “lovely” in the same sentence as “traffic warden”) who obviously recognised a lady in distress when he saw one.  The market has literally NO parking once the event has started, the road you use to drive down to set up is closed up shortly after opening time.  This lovely (I said it again) gentleman, turned a blind eye to me parking illegally for 5 minutes while I ran up and down the road like a mad woman throwing everything in the back of the car.


So, important lessons were learned.  PlayBox Designs will NEVER EVER participate in another Christmas Market EVER again, unless it happens to be INSIDE!



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