Kitchener’s Christkindl Market

20161204_122133Ever since I got a taste of a traditional German Christmas Market at the Distillery District in Toronto last year, I realized it was the perfect way to get into the winter season. Holiday music blaring through speakers, hot drinks, fried food, and cold noses somehow scream Christmas is coming! So when I heard that Kitchener, just a little over an hour outside of London, put on a 4 day Christmas Market extravaganza, there was no stopping us.

The Christkindl Market takes place in and around Kitchener’s City Hall. It’s a free to attend event and, on Sunday, parking at all city lots is free! Wooden huts line the street outside the building and there are plenty of traditional goodies, from food to crafts, for purchase. German music, dancing and blacksmithy demonstrations entertain the bundled masses. And if you want to warm up or work off the fried up feast, strap on some skates and take a spin around the rink! 20161204_11134420161204_111505      20161204_11121320161204_11100620161204_11102120161204_11152820161204_11122620161204_11121720161204_111305     20161204_11130120161204_11123720161204_11094720161204_11160620161204_11232220161204_11244920161204_11163620161204_11170820161204_11172020161204_11111920161204_11241220161204_12211920161204_11273020161204_122322But the boy and I found a better way to warm up. We grabbed some goulash, fried potatoes with applesauce, and fritters and headed for the 10th floor of City Hall. Surrounded by views of the city, we devoured our lunch and defrosted our toes.

Bellies full and back on the main floor, we wound our way through an indoor market displaying traditional wooden folk art from the Ore Mountains, felt crafts, jewelry, snacks, and gifts. And listened to an organ grinder named Klaus entertain the shoppers with his music and monkey puppet. He’s been part of the event since 2000!20161204_11534320161204_115425       20161204_11534820161204_12053520161204_12051720161204_120741    20161204_11591720161204_11585720161204_122054The Kitchener Christkindl Market is the perfect blend of tradition and entertainment, sating our bellies and our hearts. Although this event only takes place for 4 days once a year, I hope you all put this on your to-do list for 2017! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Toronto Christmas Market 2015

Crowds at the Distillery District, TorontoSince the Toronto Christmas Market took up residence in the Distillery District six years ago, I have been making plans to drop in for a visit and scope out all the fun I’ve been hearing about from friends who live in the city. Based on traditional German and Austrian holiday street markets that have been around since the 1400s, the Toronto market is a beautiful and traditionally European way to celebrate the onset of Advent and the holiday season.

And even though a glance outside will remind you that it still doesn’t feel like winter is here, the boy and I took advantage of a warm, grey weekend afternoon to finally visit the festive event everyone is talking about.

The popularity of the market has grown exponentially with each of its successive years. In fact, the Disitllery District boasted over half a million visitors last year over its 21 day run. This year, to curb some of the crowds, an entrance fee of $5 during the weekend was instituted as a means of crowd control. However, the market is not-for-profit and the money is donated to a number of charities including the Daily Bread Food Bank and Plan Canada. Plus, visits on Tuesday to Friday remain free of charge.

Retail facades in the Distillery District, TorontoBrick pavement, Distillery District, TorontoThe Saucy Milliner, Distillery District, Toronto I felt like I was stepping back in time as we wandered among the crowds. Making our way down the pedestrian-only brick cobbled streets we admired the large brick buildings and retail spaces, cafes, and galleries. The District once housed the Gooderham & Worts Distillery, and now represents the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America.

Pedestrians, Distillery District, TorontoDrinking garden, Distillery District, TorontoFood stall, Distillery District, TorontoCeramic gifts, Distillery District, TorontoAt the epi-centre of the festive set up stands the 50 foot tall tree, a wonder to behold, and decorate! More than 18,000 lights are sprinkled throughout the branches and act as a beacon to a stage that is set up next to it. Apparently, this year saw more than 320 performances presented to the visitors.

Christmas Tree, Distillery District, Toronto  Susan Harris Design, Distillery District, TorontoMistletoe sign, Distillery District, TorontoThe biggest draw of the Christmas market are the variety of gift and food vendors that line the streets of the district. We indulged in the sampling of traditional German fare like giant pretzels and hot sausages, and dipped into warm mulled wine, along with coffee from Balzac’s. But the little wooden stalls offer a treat for everyone’s taste, including free samples of vodka, amaretto and Mill Street beer (a local District microbrewery).

Cobblestones and Cappuccinos, Distillery District, TorontoHoliday decorations, Distillery District, TorontoMill St Brewery sign, Distillery District, TorontoChristmas lights, Distillery District, TorontoSt. Jacobs Maple Syrup stall, Distillery District, TorontoWagon wheel, Distillery District, TorontoWooden vendor stalls, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoVendor stalls, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoVendor stall, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoWood wine stoppers, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoWood spinners, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoOld truck, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoChristmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoChristmas trees for sale, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoCeramic cup stall, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoSnowman scultpure, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoThe Toronto Christmas Market is exactly what you would expect of a European Christmas Market – in Canada! We truly celebrated the sights, sounds, and tastes of Christmas all in one afternoon. I’m thrilled with my first visit and will be sure to brave the crowds and make a evening trip next year. Although, the market has wrapped up for this season, I urge you to put this winter event on your must-do list for next year.

Cobblestones and Cappuccinos under the mistletoe, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoI wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!