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TRAVEL SLEUTH - IT'S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS
 
(2014 - Winter Issue)

Writer: JANE STOKES



No matter what faith or tradition you follow during December, finding just the appropriate gift to mark the moment is never an easy task.

There is a remedy, however, to put you in the spirit—and to get it all done quickly. Throughout the world, December is dedicated to a profusion of Christmas markets where countless stalls are stocked with handmade crafts and one-of-a-kind gifts and millions of glowing lights that fill us with the true meaning of the season.

In Europe, the four-week Christmas market was born in medieval times beside the town cathedral. Today, our New World versions are sometimes held outside in the crisp air while others are housed comfortably indoors to handle any weather.

CANADA

CHRISTMAS MARKET AT THE OLD PORT

Québec City, Québec—November 25 to January 5

Known locally since 1604 as Le Marché Signature du Vieux-Port, the festivities showcase several lively concerts and choirs as well as more than 70 vendors offering countless products from across the province, such as handicrafts, spice bread, fine artisan cheeses, maple syrup sweets and regional vintages, including warm mulled wine. bonjourquebec.com

TORONTO CHRISTMAS MARKET

Toronto, Ontario—November 28 to December 1

The Distillery District is a trendy, year-round pedestrian-only space, which attracts artists, musicians, diners and partiers, so it’s the perfect venue for a traditional Christmas market. When you’re all shopped out, stop for a cold one in the Beer Gardens as Europeans would or for mulled wine and hot rum drinks in the true Canadian tradition. torontochristmasmarket.com

CHRISTKINDL – A Festival of German Christmas

Kitchener, Ontario—December 4 to 7

Settled by Berliners in the 19th century, Kitchener has deep roots in the German tradition. Its award-winning Christmas market attracts more than 35,000 visitors every year. Mail your cards with the official Christkindl postal stamp, then enjoy the magic of the model railway, children’s workshops, parades, live music, sugar cookies, marzipan, schnitzel and sausage. christkindl.ca

VANCOUVER CHRISTMAS MARKET

Vancouver, British Columbia—November 22 to December 24

Here, as the traditional Yuletide gets into full swing, children can ride a Christmas carousel, decorate candles and gingerbread houses, and compete for prizes in the scavenger hunt. Sample foods from various Christmas traditions and take home your favourite morsels. vancouverchristmasmarket.com

THE UNITED STATES

CHRISTMAS VILLAGE

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—November 27 to December 28

In Philadelphia’s famous LOVE Park, vendors in more than 60 European-style wooden huts sell high-quality arts and crafts, including ornaments, clothing, jewellery, decor enhancements and all types of holiday gifts. Exuding “joy to the world” with thousands of little lights, a big holiday tree and the delicious smell of waffles, gingerbread, bratwurst and mulled wine, an infectious spirit warms the heart of every culture, tradition and faith. philachristmas.com

TEXAS CHRISTKINDL MARKET

Arlington, Texas—November 28 to December 21

The sister city of Arlington is a German town called Bad Königshofen (bath at the king’s farmhouse), so December festivities celebrate that heritage, starting with the age-old Advent name, Christkindlemarkt (the Christ child market). Visit vendors in traditional wooden huts. Then tuck into wurst- and potato-pancakes and Bavarian strudel. Drink schnapps or try the warming glühwein, a blend ofred wine with cinnamon, sugar, orange and cloves, before heading off for an evening ride in a Texas-style horse-drawn carriage. texaschristkindl.com

THE GREAT DICKENS CHRISTMAS FAIR

San Francisco, California—November 22 to December 21

Inside the exhibition halls of Cow Palace, this annual one-of-a-kind fair is an adventure into Victorian London. It’s an elaborate party with hundreds of costumed players performing and interacting with visitors and vendors in the theatrically-lit music halls, pubs, dance floors and Christmas shops. Envision a twilight evening along winding lanes filled with colourful characters from both literature and history, complete with enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty foods. dickensfair.com

EUROPE

MUNICH CHRISTMAS MARKET

Munich, Germany—November 27 to December 24

The origins of this event held in Marienplatz date back to the “Nicholaus Markets” of the 14th century. The Bavarian wood carvings are valuable keepsakes, which you can purchase directly from the sculptor. The city is also the place to buy all the pieces of an authentic manger setting, a renowned Munich specialty. And every night at 5:30, singers, string groups, wind players and choirs perform in front of an enormous Christmas tree adorned with 2,500 glittering lights. germany.travel

WINTER WONDERS

Brussels, Belgium—November 28 to January 4

This yearly happening is a magnet for visitors from all over the world. Stretching for two kilometres through the heart of the city for almost five weeks, the market encompasses shops, chalets, attractions, activities and outdoor eating and drinking enjoyment. More than 200 stallholders surrounded by music and an electric light experience in the crisp air are on hand to send you home with the most unique gifts in the world. visitbrussels.be

CHRISTMAS IN TIVOLI GARDENS

Copenhagen, Denmark—November 15 to January 4  

The lights of Christmas symbolize hope and happiness amidst the darkness to fill our hearts with joy. So if you’ve never seen the millions of little lights all over Tivoli Gardens, your heart may never be as full as it should be. As you stroll through the beautifully landscaped 8.5-hectare park, stop at any one of the 70 market stalls for Danish food and drink and Scandinavian gift specialities galore. You will be surrounded by miles of pretty white lights. visitcopenhagen.com

“We’re born with millions of little lights shining in the dark—and they show us the way.  One lights up every time you feel love in your heart—one dies when it moves away.” —Michael ‘Passenger’ Rosenberg

 
 
 
 
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