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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Old-world Christmas traditions at markets in Toronto, Kitchener

   One-Tank Trip published on Nov. 26/27, 2011

   (c) By Jim Fox

   ‘Tis the season for some “old-world” holiday traditions – Christmas markets.
   Toronto’s Distillery Historic District has a re-enactment of a traditional European-style market while downtown Kitchener is the place for a festival of German Christmas.
Kris Kringle, an old-fashioned Santa, arrives by horse at the Distillery District’s Toronto Christmas Market.
   Markets have been part of the festive time for centuries in Germany, with the oldest recorded in 1310 in Munich.

   As the custom of giving gifts at Christmas grew so did the development of Christkindl markets.
   They became a popular place for the sale of children's toys, gift items and seasonal food specialties.
   The remembrances of things past with traditional sights, sounds and scents of Christmas are now held throughout the world.

   Getting into the spirit
   Children can meet an old-fashioned Santa, also known as Kris Kringle, at the Distillery District’s Toronto Christmas Market.
   The event from next Friday (Dec. 2) through Dec. 18 includes Santa arriving by horse as well as Rudolph's reindeer zoo, a fairy-tale forest maze and “roaming” elves and their workshop along Santa’s Lane.
  “Inspired by the Old World and influenced by the New, this free annual event captures all of the tradition, heritage and charm of a European Christmas market while showcasing hundreds of unique and local handcrafted products,” organizers said.
A re-enactment of a traditional European-style market takes place at the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery Historic District.
  There is family-friendly entertainment including musicians, carollers, children's choirs and holiday-themed stage presentations.
   Among the entertainers performing is Steven Page, composer, singer, instrumentalist and founding member of the Barenaked Ladies, who opens the event next Friday at 6 p.m.
   There is also great shopping, specialty beer and mulled wine gardens, sweets and treats, and all the great restaurants of district.
   Enjoy and stock up on gingerbread cookies, delicious European food items, view the colourfully decorated tree and ride a Ferris wheel.
  Make it a getaway and stay at hotel partners, the Westin Harbour Castle and Le Meridien King Edward.
   Along with an overnight stay, complimentary shuttle service to the market is available from both hotels and the Union Station for guests.
   The Harbour Castle package includes complimentary valet parking while the King Edward provides breakfast for two in Victoria’s Restaurant.
   Both packages are from $169 a room nightly. www.starwoodhotels.com/toronto-christmasmarket; 1-866-716-8101
   Market hours are Monday to Friday, noon to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. www.torontochristmasmarket.com

   Everything’s wunderbar
   Reflecting Kitchener’s German heritage, Christkindl Market is the centuries-old seasonal tradition that's a feast for the eyes, ears and appetites.
There’s lots of good eating at the German Christkindl Market in Kitchener. (Photo credit: Pirak.com)
   And, perhaps for some, the biggest news is that apple fritters – those apple rings battered with a hint of nutmeg, deep fried and dusted with confectioners' sugar – are back, said publicist Monica Reid.
   Other treats are German sausages, lebkucken (spice cake) and steaming mugs of gluhwein (mulled wine).
   The 15th annual event from next Thursday (Dec. 1) through Dec. 4 outside and inside Kitchener City Hall attracts some 35,000 visitors.
   “Christkindl magically transports the visitor to another country where Christmas celebrations are revered and perpetuated since the 14th century," said festival president Astrid Braun.
   There are more than 70 food and gift vendors, a live nativity scene, model railway displays, visits with Christkindl (the Santa figure), angels, Knecht Ruprecht, a companion of Saint Nicholas, and Klaus, the organ grinder.
Klaus, the organ grinder, and Knecht Ruprecht, a companion of Saint Nicholas, entertain at the Christkindl Market in Kitchener. (Photo credit: Pirak.com)
   Along with numerous choirs, bands, dancers and blacksmith demonstrations is skating on the city hall’s rink.
   Hours are Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday (Dec. 3) 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday (Dec. 4) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.christkindl.ca; (519) 741-2387

   Other festival happenings
   - Visits with “Old Saint Nick” start next Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 3 and 4) and continue weekends through Dec. 17 at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London.
   It’s an opportunity to visit an old-fashioned Santa, enjoy a feast of pancakes and sausages and take a horse-and-wagon ride around the village. Advance tickets required ($14 each; four for $45). www.fanshawepioneervillage.ca; (519) 457-1296
   - Tillsonburg's Country Christmas Festival features the Down Home Country Christmas Craft Show with some 140 vendors tomorrow (Sunday) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Tillsonburg Special Event Centre, 60 Cedar St.
   Other events include open houses at the Station Arts Centre and Annandale Museum, bazaars, turkey dinners and nativity displays. www.tillsonburgchristmasfestival.ca


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

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