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Stirling – four seasons, a thousand reasons
If you add street performers, food, wine tasting and popular weekend shopping to an already successful Sunday market, what do you get ? The answer is Stirling Laneways, a fantastic new concept in Stirling that brings a burst of new colour to the regular once a month Stirling Market Days. On the 4th Sunday of every month (3rd Sunday in December) the Stirling Markets come alive in Druid Avenue for six hours of market fun from 10am. And supplementing those markets on the same days during the months of September to April, the Stirling Laneways brings Stirling alive with a celebration of gardens, food and street performances that will leave everybody talking about this picturesque Hills town.
In conjunction with the market stallholders, local traders are taking pride of place amongst the pavements and patios, and into the tucked away places of the village of Stirling. The laneways of Stirling are blossoming with visiting artists, musicians and a broad range of gardening and arts and craft stalls amongst many of the popular local eateries.
Our recent visit saw us starting near the Stirling Hotel, and as we headed north along the main road we immediately came across numerous fashion stalls near the Police Station, the Post Office and the Bank. These stalls started a sprawl which heads beyond the roads and patios surrounding the buildings, and eventually leads us towards the Organic Market and Café, a great spot for a morning coffee.
Just beyond the cafe is Druid Avenue, the majority of which has been closed to allow for the three long aisles of stallholders associated with the Stirling Markets to sell all things great, green and golden. A solo busker about halfway along the aisles at a natural junction point draws a small crowd while he belts out a few light-music tunes which inevitably causes a number of us (me included) to softly mumble the lyrics of these popular songs while browsing further stalls.
The "upper" aisle along Druid Avenue is a foodie's delight with numerous ready to eat foods such as the irresistible Bull Creek Pies, a sausage sizzle, german sausages and pancakes. Drinks include the Coffee Pot, and a couple of vendors offering wine tasting, while numerous stallholders have preserves, jams, chutneys and fresh bread products for sale.
The highest point of Druid Avenue sees a collection of garden / plant stalls all of which seems sensible in this village renowned for its changing colours. Garden enthusiasts, and even many non-enthusiasts, will find many merchants with plenty of beautiful plants and flowers, and also willing and prepared to offer plenty of Hills gardening knowledge to solve your unique gardening challenge.
The carnival atmosphere continues along the remainder of Druid Avenue and then spills across the road to where Ruby's Organic Café and the Lobethal Bakery are doing a reasonable trade. The tight gaps between the buildings on this side of the road is no dampener to market stallholders, with many finding imaginative ways to anchor their marquees to provide shade for the stallholder and the goods for sale.
Bull Creek Pies (Personal Favourite) - Steve Hudson
Centenary Place is the next hub for street performances with a small stage set amongst some tables and chairs, and a kids play area. The wine tasting stall nearby and the coffee outlet have managed to secure prime positions in this small grassed area, and seemed to have attracted the attention of the adults while the kids are either playing or watching the performers on stage. With singers, bands, belly dancers and musicians performing during the day, it is quite possible that some adults and kids could have been content staying there for hours !
Soon after Centenary Place, the stalls dwindle quickly and eventually we pass the final craft stall. Unfortunately we had failed to press the stall-counter button on our smartphones, but we all thought that there was easily more than 100 stalls on display in the markets and laneways of Stirling, albeit we weren't convinced that we had managed to find them all ! We were however fairly confident in the breadth of stall offerings and struggled to think of anything that was missing.
Overall we can but highly recommend the Stirling Laneways and Markets, and we know that we will be back again in future months. Further details on the Stirling Laneways and the Stirling Markets refer to their website or their facebook page. Note that an event like this in a village like Stirling results in the closure of a number of laneways and side streets, and traffic controls through the main street. The best parking spots are in the larger shopping centre carparks on the fringes of the main street.
The quality of goods at this market is better than most and there is a wide range.Wherever you wander there is shade and music.Seating is provided here and there and there is a grassed area for children diagonally opposite to the Stirling Hotel.There is also the playground area at the other end of the main street,near Druid Ave.where you will find toilets.
Parking could be problem as this place is very popular.At the top end of Druid Ave;to the left is possibly a good place to park your car.
This event which happens on the last Sundays of the month, from September to April(except for March due to Easter 2016) is from 10 am to 4 pm.
You will need to allow at least 2 hours to potter around and perhaps grab a bite and yes the Bull Creek Pies and the fruit juice stand in Druid Ave; are well worth a try.
Allow about 25 minutes drive from the city to get there.
The setting here is delightful as good as anywhere I have been for an event of this type.
I think you will agree,that there is no better place than in Stirling,when the weather is fine and the streets/laneways are thriving with activities of all kinds.