Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Traditional German Christmas Market - in Vancouver!

This photo of wurst, and all photos courtesy Dr Erin Tranfield (Heidelberg, GER)
My beautiful, brilliant, globe-trotting friend Erin recently enraged me by telling me about the fabulous "Christmas Markets" that happen each year in Germany. The cookies, the stollen, the wurst and beer and the carts of high-quality handmade crafts . . . scheiße. Jealous is too mild a term.

Dr Erin enjoying "Feuerzangbowle" - a drink of rum, sugar and wine!

Erin says, 
"The markets are places to hang out and enjoy the company of friends and family.  They are not materialistic markets filled with stuff to buy.  There is some stuff for sale, but it isn't the main point."
She also mentions that taking photos is difficult because they are so crowded with people out enjoying the atmosphere of the market and sipping hot drinks. There's something so insanely appealing to me about that description - I'd love to experience that sort of community-wide revelry and relaxation without it being a giant marketing campaign for Coca-Cola or Telus or any number of corporate giants! You can read more about the centuries-old tradition of German Christmas Markets here

Revellers at a Christmas Market in Germany (E. Tranfield)

Don't you wish you could attend a German Christmas Market? Well now you can!

Beginning on the 24th of November this year (2010), the Vancouver Christmas Market will open on the plaza at the QE theatre downtown. It runs until Christmas Eve, daily from 11am to 9pm, and describes itself as an authentic German Christmas Market. Wooden huts decorated with pine boughs and strings of lights, live entertainment, the hot apple cider - sounds like an ideal environment to get you in the holiday mood!

I'm really excited to try Glühwein - Erin says it's delicious and a little unexpected; a mulled wine made of red wine (with or without the addition of liqueur or rum) with sugar, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, spices and a touch of citrus.

Traditional German treats (E. Tranfield)

There are over 35 vendors, many of which are really from Germany (i.e. 'Toy Wonderland' form Dresden). The descriptions of the handicrafts are the most appealing to me (being a vegetarian, oh alright pescetarian, I miss out on the bratwurst . . . but not the beer, cookies or chestnuts!) - here is an excerpt from the mainpage for the event:
The merchandise will include authentic wood carvings and wooden toys, knitted cloves and scarves, Christmas pyramids and tree balls, tin toys, stained glass, and nutcrackers in various sizes as well as live glass blowing demonstrations.
Kitchen wares at a German Christmas Market (E. Tranfield)

And the food (in the kid's market, children can decorate their own gingerbread!):
There will be a mix of food and merchandise booths including some specialties such as German bratwurst and Leberkaes, traditional Christmas cookies, Lebkuchen, roasted chestnuts and spiced Christmas Cake (Stollen). Beverages will include hot spiced apple cider and authentic hot spiced red wine (Glühwein) and a selection of German beers.

WURST! (Sausages!) Photo by E. Tranfield

Unfortunately, this is a CHEAP-NOT-FREE event, and admission (all day) costs $5 per adult (kids under 6 are free).

In Germany, each city has a unique design for the year's Christmas mugs (E. Tranfield)
However, if you visit between 11am and 2pm on a weekday, general admission is only $2 for an adult. Why not visit over your lunch-hour? That's my plan - downtown transit is so convenient!

A spice vendor in a German Christmas Market (E. Tranfield)
Visit the Vancouver Christmas Market website: or after November 24th the market itself on W. Georgia (Hamilton and Cambie for entrances).

A bustling German Christmas Market (E. Tranfield)

Thanks again very much to Dr Erin Tranfield for sharing her photos of the beautiful German Christmas Markets! Now if only we had architecture like THAT as a backdrop! Wow!

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