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Every year, for centuries, people in towns and villages across Germany have staged and enjoyed a wealth of festivities based around a Christmas market. These events were – and still are – packed with outdoor markets of cute wooden booths and stalls, full of traditional handmade Christmas ornaments, nutcrackers, wooden figurines, delicious German foods to suit every taste, music and dancing.
In 1997, ever the groundbreakers, the City of Kitchener, led by Tony Bergmeier, brought the tradition of the Christmas Market right to downtown Kitchener and staged Canada’s first ever! Christkindl Market – A Festival of German Christmas is now in its 22nd year and in 2018 will be staged in around the Town Hall in downtown Kitchener from December 6 to December 9.
What is the Christkindl Market?
Inspired by the 16th century Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, one of the first holiday markets of its kind, the Christkindl Market here in the Waterloo Region is well-known for its vendors’ high-quality gifts and food, holiday cheer, and for being the ideal place for families to create their own holiday traditions.
If you haven’t seen it yet this year, here’s the ad spot for the 2018 festivities.
Looks great, doesn’t it? In case you have never attended before, here’s a quick look at just some of the things you can expect to see, hear and taste!
Food and Shopping
Over 90 vendors will be setting up shop at this year’s market. Some will be located within the Town Hall itself while others will be set up in huts that will line Civic Square. The festival is set up very much like the festivals in Europe after which it is modeled, with everything available from traditional German food to the kinds of handmade Christmas decorations and gifts that you simply cannot find in the regular stores.
If you are looking for a unique gift for some special people, or are hoping to up your Christmas decor game this year, this is the place to go. And you’ll be in good company. Over 35,000 people are expected (about the same as last year) to attend!
In terms of the food, our advice is don’t eat before you head to the market as there will be a lot available to fill you up! Sweet and savory treats abound, everything from hearty German soups, turkey legs, goulash, potato pancakes and more to all kinds of fresh baked bread and rolls to almost any kind of chocolate or dessert you can imagine no-one has to leave hungry (and lots of food, even bread, is gluten-free too!)
As the original Canadian Christmas market, upholding the traditions of old make up a very important part of the Kitchener Christkindl Market. From the lighting of the beautiful Christmas Tree at the festival’s start to nightly candlelight parades and beautiful illuminations the sights, sounds and smells of the season abound.
There is a wide variety of entertainment offered over the course of the four-day festival and the list of performers grows in number and variety every year. In addition to traditional Bavarian brass bands and carol singers this year there will be folk dancers and philharmonic performances as well as offerings from several local choirs and well known local entertainers like Marko, The Prince of Polka.
Kiddie’s Christmas Fun
There is, of course, lots for children to enjoy. From live blacksmith’s demonstrations (which are very interesting for grown-ups to see too) to visits from Santa and the Christkindl, special craft workshops, puppet shows, a wonderful model railway display and more.
You can check the vendor lists, the schedule of events and much more at the festival’s official website here.