AFFA Fine Open Air Market

Affa Fine Open Air market is officially one years old this month!
 
One year ago Affa Fine was started in response to the need for a safe place to trade outdoors for the many local business who though Covid lost many of their usual indoor trading spaces. AFFA Fine Open Air Market is now one of Aberdeenshire's largest regular open air retail experiences, supporting and promoting local business and those looking to re-purpose their household items!
 
We bring together local makers, market traders and car boots within a socially distanced open air market. Promoting local food and drink, arts and crafts, repurposing and upcycling, clothing and accessories, home and garden, and so much more.
 

What's a year its been! We began our journey in the Guides field in Crathes castle estate, but soon needed to expand to a larger site across the Deeside road to the larger Milton of Crathes event field. This larger field offers the market ample room to support the ongoing growth, on site toilets, a large free parking area and to join the already popular exclusive complex of independent retail, hospitality, sporting and tourism businesses already located as this idyllic Deeside setting.

Drumoak-based Etiom Limited, the events company behind a monthly open-air event championing local independent makers and market traders, is pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with Banchory-based Leys Estate Group, which opens up a number of opportunities for local charitable or community organisations to get involved and fundraise.

AFFA Fine Open Air Market, which runs on the first Sunday of each month, has operated at Crathes since November 2020 and continues to expand, including independent makers and market traders selling everything from food, drink, arts and crafts, to clothing, accessories an things for the home and garden, whilst car booters continue to champion upcycling and recycling. 

Etiom's Operations Manager, Adam Simpson comments, "Its been an incredibly tough time over the past 18 months and it continues to be a challenge for everyone to navigate the current stresses presented by the effects of the ongoing pandemic. The AFFA Fine concept was established towards the end of last year, primarily to support local makers and market traders looking to trade their produce within a safe open air market place. We trialled the concept in November and December last year, and it proved popular, both with shoppers and with the retailers. The concept continues to be popular, continuing at Milton of Crathes Events Field throughout the year. We continue to think of creative ways to adapt the market so that those in most need can benefit from the opportunity.We are excited to be working closely with Leys Estate Group to promote these opportunities." 

The new partnership between Etiom and Leys Estate Group allows the AFFA Fine Open Air Market to continue to establish its roots at Milton of Crathes, whilst opening up exciting opportunities for enhancements to the current operation, including free entry and parking, improved opening times of 10am until 2pm, and opening up limited opportunities for local charities and community associations to fundraise. 

Leys Estate Group's Communications and Marketing Manager Susanne Shepherd added, "HOLD. Local charitable and community organisations are invited to get in touch to discuss opportunities to get involved in one of the future markets. They can email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..".

The Milton of Crathes cluster is already home to the Milton Art Gallery, Milton BrasserieTwinPeakes Fly Fishing  and the popular pop-up shop concept, a fashionable addition to the retail outlet centre offering a home for start-up businesses. Milton of Crathes is of course home to the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society which has just recently opened up again following enforced COVID closures.

The next AFFA Fine Open Air Market is this Sunday 5 September, open between 10am and 2pm. Entry and parking is free, with free parking accessible through the Milton of Crathes Events Field Gates off the Milton of Crathes car park.

Whilst you would think that we would be used to the ups and downs presented by COVID, this week certainly hasn't disappointed, with a rollercoaster of good news, bad news and the inability to plan anything. 

This week started off on a good footing, with the UK Government announcing indicative dates and a tentative roadmap out of the priority restrictions. This was followed, in our opinion, and of course applying to Scotland only, by a reversal of the relatively good news announced the day before.

Our markets are in different locations, with different governing council authorities and separate landlords, and whilst we are keen to proceed with the markets with essential items and expanding this to non-essential items as allowed, the announcements made this week contributed to nervousness about proceeding with the markets in March.

This is frustrating since markets are allowed (and continue) to proceed for essential items only, and they help to provide much needed income for independent makers and market traders.

It is unfair on the traders to wait until next week to make a decision, some of whom ideally need more than one week's notice of a cancellation. Therefore, we had  to make the decision yesterday to cancel the March markets, which is so very disappointing for the team here, and of course to all those that were booked to come along next weekend. 

With regard to the April markets, we still plan for these to go ahead, but we will make a announcement once we have received a further update from the Scottish Government, scheduled to be on Tuesday 16 March 2021.

We endeavoured to call all the traders booked for the March markets yesterday, but we had to leave a voicemail with quite a number. For those that we didn't get to speak to, we hope that social media does its thing and we will follow up with you all next week. For those that have booked to come as a shopper, we will be in touch with you all early next week.

This is an incredibly frustrating time for retailers, and of course for market operators too. We continue to plan as best we can, and we hope you will stick by us whilst we manage all this as best we can. Meantime, please stay safe and well, and if you have any questions for us at all, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Copy of QUEENS LINKS

Despite best efforts to reach a compromise with the site owners at the new Aberdeen City Centre location for AFFA Fine Open Air Market, we have reached an impasse on getting access to the site again for the next market, scheduled to take place on Sunday 18 April 2021. Whilst we have approval from Aberdeen City Council and both UK and Scottish Governments to proceed, the site owners’ reluctance centres around their nervousness of hosting an open air market on one of their sites, whilst COVID restrictions remain in place.

Despite having an agreement in place since January, we have to respect their final decision. We have therefore withdrawn from the agreement as we cannot continue to cancel markets at relative short notice, which is unfair on those booked to attend, and particularly those that rely on these markets to earn much needed income during these tough times.

We continue to review alternative sites in the City Centre but nothing has been identified yet that meets the criteria that we require to safely operate an open space market and which offers convenient facilities for those less mobile or requiring local facilities. We will be contacting all those booked to attend the market to offer refunds or transferring to the next market at Milton of Crathes on the first Sunday of each month.

Whilst this is disappointing for those that prefer the City Centre location, we will continue to seek alternative City Centre sites and also focus on growing the AFFA Fine Open Air Market at Milton of Crathes, which offers ample free parking onsite, toilets, direct access off the A93, fantastic scenery and great local shopping at Milton of Crathes and Banchory.

Our next market is on Sunday 2 May 2021 and we look forward to welcoming local makers, market traders and car booters, all within a safe socially distanced open air market space. We will be promoting local food and drink, arts and crafts, repurposing and upcycling, clothing and accessories, home and garden, and so much more. As restrictions are anticipated to ease over the coming months, we are looking into additional entertainment that can enhance shoppers’ trip to enjoy the stunning Royal Deeside scenery.

We value your ongoing support as we continue to navigate these tough times as best we can. Meantime, please stay safe and well, and we look forward to seeing you next month. If you have any questions for us at all, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.