Gloucester Green Market is a weekly chance to stock up on everything you might need. Food and homewares, trinkets and necessities - they're all here. On a Tuesday night, Gloucester Green is a quiet square, but by Wednesday morning it's bustling with stalls. The incredible feat of getting 100 stalls set up overnight takes place every week, and by 9am opening time the area's resplendent with colourful stalls.
Greengrocers abound; it's easy to keep yourself healthy with their wide range. They offer bowls of fruit and veg at great prices, that classic market call advertising wares echoing across the square. Alongside the juicy strawberries and plump tomatoes, however, are more exotic things such as yams. Oxford has a great range of cultural influences, and this can be seen even here.
Think you need a pound shop to get your cheap sugar fix? At this market there are the pound stalls with sweets, nuts and other things, all bagged up and ready to grab for a pound. The market in general is good value, but these stalls are obviously some of the best.
There are plenty of places to stock up on the useful things you might need. Bike lights and locks do a roaring trade in a city dominated by pedal power, but you can get a great range of other generally useful stuff too.
Soft furnishings and clothes are kept well out of the way of the food, but there's certainly plenty of them. Dresses and skirts, sheets and pillowcases, or simply underwear, are all available. You may not be able to try them on, but if you know what you want, a great bargain can be had. There are stalls with second hand clothes too, including great piles of scarves you're free to rummage through, reminding me of time spent going through a dressing-up box to find the one thing which would make me look and feel fabulous.
Artisan breads are available at several stalls. Huge hunks of tiger bread, beautiful round sourdough loaves and a great variety of baps and pastries are piled high, tempting snackers as well as those looking for a good loaf to take home. It's always worth talking to the stallholders, who can tell you plenty about the market itself, but also about their business and their product. Unlike a supermarket, you do get that sense of personal involvement with the items, as the person sourcing products passes them on to new individuals.
There are plenty of other snack venues. A few are more permanent fixtures around the edge of the square, but Gloucester Green does come alive with international cuisines, from fresh Chinese Baozi buns to kebabs. Add in butchers and cheese stalls, and your food needs are met!
A chic side to the market exists too, with stalls selling jewellery and other beautiful items. At the one pictured below I found some particularly beautiful glass imported from Milan. Again, a chat with the stallholder helped make sense of the items and ensured I bought a sensible piece.
On other days of the week there may be other markets, such as an antiques and/or farmers market on a Thursday. Advertisements are always put up on lampposts around the city, so it's easy to know what is going on.
If you're thinking of going as a stallholder, then rates seem very reasonable, starting at £28.67 per stall with an additional £2PR.
The markets have been taken over by a private company, LSD Promotions, although they're still to some extent coordinated through the council.
Gloucester Green is also the main Oxford bus station, so there's no excuse for not being able to get in on market day, and it's easy to struggle home with your laden bags after you've finished. The train station is only a 10 minute walk away as well, so the market is easy for anyone to access. There is parking in an NCP car park on Beaumont Street too, but walking / cycling would probably be easier.