Thursday, December 9, 2010
Holiday: Toronto Christmas Market
The entrance to the Toronto Christmas Market, sponsored by Lowe's, was observed on the evening of 9-December-2010
TORONTO, ONTARIO - One of the delights of the holiday season in central Europe are the Christmas markets in most towns of any size. These outdoor markets attract crowds with their outdoor huts of all kinds of gifts and foodstuffs. On business travel, I've had the privilege of being able to see Christmas markets in such places as Basel, Switzerland and Konstanz, Germany, and really enjoyed doing some Christmas shopping there.
Some of the vendors at the Toronto Christmas Market were observed in their authentic huts on 9-December-2010
When I heard that Toronto was going to have a German-style Christmas market this year, I was initially quite skeptical. While placing it in the Distillery District, which has a rather European atmosphere with its older brick buildings and small alleyways at any time of the year, seemed a good fit, I wasn't convinced that any such event in North America would be able to capture the feel of the European markets.
A choir performed German and North American Christmas favorites at the Toronto Christmas Market on 5-December-2010
When I arrived at the opening of the market last Friday night, however, I was pleasantly surprised. The shops looked straight out of Germany. Furthermore, the place was packed--it was barely possible to move around the central area around the stage and Christmas tree in order to explore the entire market.
Look closely at the turkey at the center of the Leonard Cakes store at the Toronto Christmas Market--it's actually a cake on 9-December-2010
There are only thirty stores at the Toronto Christmas Market, many fewer than a typical German market, and I was initially unimpressed, but after talking to some of the vendors, I changed my views. There were German-heritage businesses from as far away as Peterborough, Ontario, businesses that are normally on-line deciding to take up a holiday booth, and an interesting collection of entrepreneurs including a children's book author--all in all, very similar to the kind of mix found in Europe. Undoubtedly, as words gets around, there will be a larger number of more varied vendors next year.
One of several beer gardens at the Toronto Christmas Market, associated with a very fine German beer, was noted on 9-December-2010
While I might have been happy, the real test was the opinion of a native German. I had the opportunity to go to the market on Sunday with a group headed by a relatively-recent German transplant. He was duly impressed. He even managed to find the mulled wine, which was available at one of the beer gardens though it wasn't particularly promoted. While it wasn't as spiced up as it should have been, he was still quite happy that an effort had been made to offer it.
A puppet troupe performed for passers-by at the Toronto Christmas Market on 5-December-2010
Children have plenty to do at the Christmas Market as well, with roving entertainers, a real Gingerbread House to observe, a maze to walk through, and an "Elves' Workshop" where they can draw or write a letter to Santa. For more information on the Toronto Christmas Market, refer to its website but plan to visit soon--the market closes after this Sunday, 12-December-2010.