Vancouver, B.C., November 08th 2014
When does it officially become Christmastime? For Vancouverites, it's actually in late November, when the scents of mulled wine and gingerbread and the sounds of bells and trumpets fill the crisp air. It's a time when the eyes widen at the sight of little wooden huts all decorated with a Herrnhut Star decked out in twinkling white lights and pine branches, of a sparkling carousel pirouetting in the night. This is the Vancouver Christmas Market.
In founding this beloved wintertime utopia, Malte Kluetz brings a 700-year-old tradition from the streets of his native Hamelin, Germany, to the plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. German Christmas markets are a staple of European holiday seasons, and over the past few years, the Vancouver market has become a similarly un-missable destination for locals.
Here, a forests' worth of light-spangled pine trees and wreaths crowd the plaza, joining 45 wooden huts in which craftspeople and chefs—many from Germany themselves—share their handiwork. Shoppers peruse hand-carved nutcrackers and ornaments, the original Herrnhut Stars, and at any given moment of the day or night, the music of carolers, a string trio, or a jazz band might warm chilly ears.
After a hug from the market's gingerbread mascots, children might go on a scavenger hunt, build their own Herrnhut Star, or head to the old-fashioned Christmas carousel, encrusted with hundreds of amber lights, to show parents just how good they would be at riding a pony if they had their own. When they're done, kids and their parents head off in search of herbed Bavarian bratwursts, pastries, bubbly German wheat beers, and inky, sweetly spiced gluhwein.
Like any good Christmas market, the Vancouver market's festivities are anchored by a massive tree decorated with 26 white Herrnhut Stars. At its pinnacle sits a glowing star—a beacon signaling the arrival of the holiday season.