Lady at the Market

Support small businesses and shop local at Inspire libraries’ Christmas markets

Following last year’s success, Inspire libraries’ Christmas markets are returning at four libraries around the county. Shoppers can join the festivities at Mansfield Central Library, Sutton in Ashfield Library, Arnold Library and Bingham Library, with plenty of handmade gifts, baked goods and festive cheer in store.

This season, Inspire is urging Christmas shoppers to support small businesses, makers and creators in their community. Now more than ever, they are encompassing ‘Green’ values at every opportunity; offering local learning opportunities, free and low-cost cultural programmes, and encouraging the reuse of books amongst their readers. As value for money and sentimentality of gifts is king, Inspire puts the environment first with a call for library users to stay local and shop small.

Claire Litchfield, founder of ClaireLitchKnits, attended Inspire’s Christmas market at Sutton-in-Ashfield Library last year. While self-isolating in November 2020, Claire took the opportunity to teach herself to knit and so began the journey to creating her own business. ClaireLitchKnits launched in 2021 and features an array of handmade accessories which have proved popular at markets around the county. She found out about her local market from a friend and could not have been happier with the reception – “It was such a lovely atmosphere,” she says, “all the staff were so welcoming and couldn’t do enough for you. The other stallholders were also wonderful, and it was great to chat with them about their experience as small business owners.”

The markets have attracted a wide range of goods, with items for the whole family including immersive board games, handmade greetings cards and sweet treats to name but a few. When asked what she’s most looking forward to this year, Claire shares “I’ve a few new products I’m really excited about, I can’t wait to show off my hand-crocheted bags. I’ve gotten so many compliments on one I used over the summer so I can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks of them… although if there’s some amazing cakes like last year, that’s my answer too!”

Visitors can expect a whole host of festive events which vary between venues. Mansfield Central Library promises a day of fun for all the family, with a children’s crafting session from 11am until 1pm, and a fantastic performance by the Mansfield Ukulele Group at 12pm. Little ones will be welcomed into Santa’s grotto at two sessions throughout the day, at 11am and 1pm.

At Sutton in Ashfield Library there will be festive cheer aplenty, with complimentary hot drinks and mince pies on offer plus the honeyed tones of the Rolls Royce Rollers choir. Indulge in fun reminiscent of traditional fayres with a tombola featuring prizes donated by local businesses, then grab a bookish bargain at their Recycled Reads station.

Arnold Library promises Christmas magic with their grotto, where children can visit between 10am and 2pm and receive a gift from Santa Claus himself (booking required, small charge applies). Readers can stock up on their next great reads with their book, DVD and audiobook sale, and Inspire Learning will also be in attendance hosting a craft session for families.

Peter Gaw, Chief Executive Officer of Inspire says:

“I’m delighted that we’re able to host Christmas markets for a second year in our libraries, there really is something for everyone. I am proud of the impact we have had on entrepreneurs in our communities, and excited for the opportunities we continue to present as we support these inspired individuals.”

Tempted yet? Whether it’s for those last finishing touches or just the beginning of your quest for gifts, Inspire libraries’ Christmas markets bring the best of your community right to your doorstep.

Markets will take place on select dates between Saturday 18 November and Saturday 9 December. Visit for full information.

Catch ClaireLitchKnits at our Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield markets this month, and follow her journey on Instagram @ClaireLitchKnits

Posted on 09 November 2023

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Jack Woolley