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Vancouver Christmas Market: A German Tradition

November 18th, 2010 @ 9:40am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Vancouver Christmas Market will be popping up on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza November 24th until December 24rd, 2010.

In the style of a traditional German Christkindlmarkt, you will be able to experience a full Christmas village with vendors and artisans taking up shop in wooden huts. Lights, decorations, gifts, crafts, a kids market, and plenty of treats await. Mulled wine, spicy gingerbread, carolers, trumpeters — you’ll be wishing everyone a Frohe Weihnachten!

The market will also host a variety of special events in early December and is available for private bookings. It is also licensed so you may partake in some traditional spirits and brews on-site but remember to drink responsibly. The nearest SkyTrain station is Stadium and it’s right off Georgia for North Shore and Downtown bus access.

Tickets are available at the door for $5 (adults), $2 (ages 7-12), and children under 6 years old are free. Follow the market on Twitter or Facebook for updates throughout the season.

Update November 24, 2010: CBC is reporting that there was an explosion and fire at the site of the Christmas Market this morning.


Photo credit: CBCStephenQuinn on Twitter

According to tweets from Stephen Quinn, a security guard spotted the gas leak and had everyone evacuate. No one was injured and the VFD have things under control. From a press release this afternoon:

Vancouver, BC The opening of the first annual Vancouver Christmas Market has been delayed due to a construction accident that resulted in a fire at the site on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza Wednesday morning.

Vancouver fire investigators say the fire started when a person drilling a hole in one of the Market’s huts drilled through a propane tank in the process. The propane ignited upon hitting an unknown heat source. Fortunately, no one was hurt as a result of the fire. Damage was contained to approximately six of the Market’s more than 30 vendor huts.

Update November 24, 2010: The fire caused damage to some electrical equipment on site, resulting in the need for extensive repairs and sourcing of parts, which will delay the opening until early the week of November 29.

Update November 27, 2010 per a press release today, the market will open tomorrow:

“Thanks to the efforts of workers and volunteers, the Market will open its doors to the public tomorrow, Sunday, November 28 at 11am and continue to run daily from 11am to 9pm through December 24th.”

Update I had the chance to check out the Vancouver Christmas Market last night, here are a few photos.

Vancouver Christmas Market

Vancouver Christmas Market Vancouver Christmas Market

Vancouver Christmas Market

Vancouver Christmas Market Vancouver Christmas Market
Vancouver Christmas Market Vancouver Christmas Market
Vancouver Christmas Market Vancouver Christmas Market
Vancouver Christmas Market Vancouver Christmas Market

Feathered birds, wooden nativity scenes, alpen figures, and classic decorations. Among all of the ornaments I was surprised to see a festive pickle, however I did bring one home to adorn our tree.

Vancouver Christmas Market

Vancouver Christmas Market Vancouver Christmas Market
Vancouver Christmas Market Vancouver Christmas Market
Vancouver Christmas Market Vancouver Christmas Market

Vancouver Christmas Market

The band played familiar tunes while the aroma of bratwurst, potatoes, cinnamon spice apple cider and sugary crepes filled the air. Although our night was extremely soggy, the kids had a wonderful time getting airbrush tattoos, meeting Holly & Jolly (the gingerbread mascots), decorating their own candles and chocolate candies.

Update September 2011 Vancouver Christmas Market returns this season.

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25 comments

  1. Mom604 says:

    This authentic German Christmas market village sounds absolutely wunderbar! I can’t wait to see it and I will definitely bring your Oma. The Lebkuchenhaus (gingerbread house)sounds delicious!

    I hope it’s a success and becomes an annual Vancouver tradition!

  2. jas says:

    why isnt it free like the richmond night market

  3. Ine says:

    I cannot wait to go and visit the market.
    A couple of days ago I was telling my husband how much I miss visiting the German Christmas Markets and all of a sudden there’s people telling me about the market in Vancouver. I was over the moon when I heard!
    The atmosphere is amazing! I checked the list of exhibitors and they have some typical German products coming (Kathe Wolhfahrt).
    Thanks for blogging about this, it’s about time people find out about this great German tradition:)!

  4. Lindsay says:

    I hope they have Glühwein!!

  5. Mom604 says:

    Ya, Linsay, there will be Glühwein!

  6. Lumen Photo says:

    Get your Advent Calenders out December is almost here!

  7. fotoeins says:

    Thanks for your article, RB. I’m glad Vancouver’s “Weihnachtsmarkt” runs the entire length of the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas. Please have a “Glühwein” for me!

  8. sonia says:

    Why is there $5 fee? It’s a market, to buy stuff, no?

  9. Jenny says:

    I can’t wait to go. It’s going to be awesome.

  10. Kevin says:

    I live in Germany. The most important tradition of the traditional German X-mas market — no admission charge — seems to have gone by the wayside in Vancouver. No admission charge also means that the German X-mas markets are not roped or fenced off, so it feels like the regular marketplace / street has undergone a natural, seasonal transformation, rather than like an artificially imposed event.

  11. Mort-y says:

    @Kevin: You are fortunate that you have these markets every year (for the past 400-600 years) Remember, this is NOT Germany. You cannot compare what we do here to anything you do there. Please don’t trash-talk our attempt at doing something nice and festive! Guten Tag!

  12. Mom604 says:

    I have learned from several German colleagues at work that there are many German Chistmas markets which DO charge admission. One friend who was there just last winter said she had to pay 3 Euros to get in. Many of these markets are walled or fenced in and charge money.
    You would be lucky to find a free one.

  13. ariane c says:

    I do miss having our 45 minute drive (from Amersfoort, The Netherlands) to Köln for the holiday market. I’ve been to markets in many German towns and I don’t recall having ever paid an admission. Nor in Vienna. Mostly it’s about ‘renting’ the Glühwein cup for the evening, then whatever you drink is obviously charged. Keeping the cup will set you back about 10 euros.

    The Köln market was one of my favourites! I hope that Kevin (post above) will get a few in for us this year :-)

  14. Kevin says:

    @Mort-y: Not trash talking, just wanted people there to know that this is not the norm. After I wrote my previous comment it occurred to me that there is fair reason for enclosing the Van market that does not exist here: public alcohol consumption laws.

    @Mom604: I guess I should enter the lottery then, because after many years I have yet to attend a “Weihnachtsmarkt” that charges admission! But I have been to Christmas-themed craft fairs with very similar set-ups that do charge admission, so the line is blurry. I believe the main difference is that true Christmas Markets have their origins in the regular weekly markets, have been around for centuries (in some cases) and are truly civic institutions supported by semi-permanent infrastructure.

    PS: I am a Canadian — from Vancouver — living in Germany, so I feel qualified to speak on both sides. ;)

  15. Rebecca Bollwitt says:

    Regarding the cost… I think for locals it would be like putting a fence up around Granville Island Market and charging $5 to get in. However, for those visiting who had never experienced Granville Island, it would be well worth it and less shocking.

    … Okay now I hope they don’t start charging for Granville Island hehe.

  16. Mom604 says:

    @ Kevin: Thank you for explaining. I wish you all the best.

  17. Luckyloui says:

    This is for the local population who can visit more than once, such as in Parksville.
    One visit $5.00
    Five visits $20.00
    Ten visists $35.00

  18. Bill McFarlane says:

    Why are you charging admission to a market where people go to spend money?
    It sounds like you are charging people for the privilege of attending your market.
    It’s sort of like if the Bay or Holt Renfrew charged admission to their stores at Christmas time because they have put up a few decorations.
    I love the idea of a European Christmas Market but you are spoiling it by charging customers to get in! It just sounds so greedy. You know some families who want to walk through the market and get a little flavour of a European Christmas could be denied or worse be forced to stand outside a fence peering in, because they may not be able to afford the five dollar per person ticket.
    I understand the big Christmas Markets in German cities do not charge admission.
    Why are we charging in Vancouver??????

  19. Erving says:

    This is not unusual for Vancouver. I attended this city during the 2010 Winter Olympics and also for a fireworks show in the summer of 2007 (Celebration of Lights is what they called it) and I found that this city nickel and dimes the tourists into poverty. They charge for everything and have some of the most shocking tax rates (why do they not include the tax in the price you see) added on top of their posted prices. Vancouver is a very expensive city and I would not vacation there again unless I had to. Even the “free and cheap things” that I went to do costs money (I went to climb the famous grouse grind and they charge you $10/person to ride the gondola down now – it used to be free back in the early 90’s).

  20. Kate says:

    I actually don’t think charging admission is a bad thing. It’s the same as many other special events that happen in or around the city. The first example that comes to mind is the Renaissance Festival. This market cost a great deal of money to organize, build, and now repair. The people inside are selling their wares to make enough money for their own businesses, not necessarily to cover the cost of putting the entire market together. If those responsible for the market’s creation want to make sure the market at least breaks even, I say let them. It is the sad truth that events put on at a loss eventually cannot continue — the summer fireworks are a good example, floundering as they have been. If any of you would like the Vancouver Christmas Market to be an annual tradition instead of a one-off, I say pay the extremely small admission fee and deal with it.

  21. Jen says:

    I would have gone if it was free. Money is really tight now but it would have been nice to go and look around, but can’t justify spending the $$$ to window shop. I probably would have bought something to eat though :)

  22. fotoeins says:

    @Mom604 and @Kevin : as a former Vancouverite who lived in Heidelberg for 2 years (and who visits Germany frequently), it’s true most Weihnachtsmärkte do not charge admission. For example, in Heidelberg, the markets in the Old Town (at least six within a two-km walk along the Hauptstrasse) has been, and AFAIK, continues to be free of charge. There are exceptions throughout the country to be sure. For example, in Berlin, the large market at Gendarmenmarkt is charging 1 Euro in admission (except New Year’s Eve). At any rate, it’ll be interesting for me to see in 3 weeks’ time just how special/individual this market is compared to others …

  23. lisa says:

    looks fun, can’t wait to go check it out !

  24. Nadja says:

    ADMISSION- here’s why:
    In Germany the markets are a traditional event that has taken place for 100 s of years. Therefore it is supported and paid for by the city it is taking place in.
    In Vancouver it is run by a private group of people. They have to rent the space from the city of Vancouver as well as have a liquor liscence to serve alcohol. They are trying to recreate a typical German market but they are doing it at they’re own expense.
    I think they have done a marvelous job. You can buy a seasons pass for $15 which a lot of people who live or work nearby have done because the food is so good. The most expensive food item I saw was $8 and the most expensive drink was $7. The souvenir gluhwein mug is only $4.
    These are really not the most outrageous prices I have seen at events in Vancouver.
    I encourage you to try it once and enjoy it for what it is. We have been twice already and plan to go back a few times.

  25. [...] Markets in Germany Posted on 23 Nov 2010 by fotoeins Miss604 wrote last week about the upcoming version in Vancouver [...]

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Night of a Thousand Dinners 2010
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International Freeski Film Festival – IF3