Cramped wooden stalls, sweaty vendors, bright fabric roofing or simple framing to hang merchandise from, wares laid out on cloth or leaves (food, vegetables, jewelry, weaponry, books, bright bolts of cloth and silk, spices, fruit, alcohol/ale, clothing & shoes, elixirs & powders, pendant/flags/statuettes/souvenirs of royalty in power, baskets, leather goods, hanks of smoked & fresh meat [chicken, ham, salted beef, fish], bread goods and pastries), crates, bins, racks, shelves, boxes, barrels, shoppers browsing with carry baskets or satchels, jingling pouches of coins, orphaned children working the crowds and stalls, begging or thieving, smoke rising from cook stoves or portable grills, midden piles, flies, stray dogs, trash, muddy flagstones, packed bodies, musicians & performers, people haggling/bartering, tethered goats, crates of live chicken or rabbits for sale, a soothsayer tent, exotic creatures or good from foreign lands
Haggling, bartering, sellers hawking wares, people calling out to friends, laughter, animals braying/barking/clucking, creaking wagons as they pass, the clop of horses' hooves, mugs hitting the tabletop, people calling for service in eating areas or outdoor drinking establishments, meat sizzling on a grill, gossip, packages crinkling, vendors banging on a pot/whistling to get attention or demonstrate a product's sturdiness, music, sun protective cloth on stalls flapping, beads clicking together, thatch rustling in the breeze, the jingle of coins
Spices, grilling meats, yeast from baked bread, sweat, rot from alleyway middens, dust, char, smoke, over-ripe fruit, manure, oils, leather, perfume, ale
Ale, beer/wine, fresh juices, spicy meats, bread & rolls, sweet rolls, candied fruit, roasted nuts, kabobs
Cobbles underfoot, stepping to avoid refuse, manure or muddy patches, tripping on loose clay, stroking fabric for quality, testing buckles, ties and straps for durability, hefting the weight of something (a knife blade, pot, etc), fingering a handful of coin as you decide whether to purchase or not, squeezing into gaps to reach a stall, bumping into people in crowded areas, nudging, elbows poking, having feet stepped on, goats or dogs bumping against legs, the pull of a heavy basket on arm, full of new purchases, pointing to a specific item, holding up a piece of clothing or piece of fabric, paging through a book, tapping a tray of goods to select an item to look at, juggling hot food or a drink, readjusting packages, feeling hot sun on the back of the neck, wiping at sweaty forehead, shading eyes from the sun to look around, fingering beads or decoration on clothing or jewelry, lifting spice pots and sachets to the nose to smell, sorting through fruits or vegetables for unbruised product, turning away or flapping a hand to feign disinterest or disgust at a vendor's pricing in hopes of him or her readjusting the price, holding onto the hand of a child so they are not lost in the crowd, smoke stinging the eyes
--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Whenever possible, Marcel would fetch water early, crossing Market Square at dawn as the vendors arrived to set up their booths. The sunlight fell gentle on his shoulders and the air still held that crisp, dewy smell. Sometimes he would linger a moment or two, admiring bead work on a festival shirt or the sheen of a dagger's blade, dreaming of the day that he could afford such things.
Karla hated running the outdoor tables for her uncle on market day. After a few pints, the air turned fetid with sour ale and the customers were much too free with their hands, while being stingy with their tips.
--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile)
Inside the ring of brightly decorated booths, villagers packed the grassy common like a corral of sheep waiting to be fleeced.
Example 2: (Metaphor)
By noon, the air was alive with spices and honeyed scents. Candied nuts, exotic fruit, sweetbreads and glazed pastry lined the tables in the market, a gauntlet of temptation for those trying to hang onto hard-earned shillings.