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Friday, December 2, 2016

Festive events with markets, lights, Santa, shopping . . .

   One-Tank Trip for Nov. 26/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   ‘Tis the season . . . for Christmas markets, holiday lights, Santa sightings, Stratford shopping and more.
   Kitchener’s Germanic heritage is fitting for the Christkindl Market, marking its 20th year from Dec. 1 to 4.
   Everything is “Wunderbar” as the market outside and inside Kitchener City Hall recreates a Christmas tradition from 700 years ago.
Photo opportunities with Christkindl with her two angels at the Kitchener festival.
   Since then, towns and cities across Germany come alive with outdoor markets of rustic wooden booths and stalls full of traditional handmade ornaments, nutcrackers and wooden figurines.
   “It’s a truly unique experience,” said publicist Monica Reid and the market is one of the Top 100 Festivals/Events in Ontario, attended by 40,000 visitors.

   “Admission is always free and includes 30 performances by choirs, bands and dance groups, and there’s something for all ages to enjoy,” she added.
   It has expanded to more than 90 food and gift vendors, many of them clustered in huts on Carl Zehr Square and along King Street.
Folkloric organ grinder Klaus entertains at the Christkindl Market.
   This is the place to “grab a bratwurst, schnitzel or pretzel and stroll the square to find unique, European-themed gifts and decorations.”
   Similar to the outdoor markets of Europe, there are the smells and tastes of fresh-baked pastries, apple fritters, funnel cakes, traditional mulled Gluhwein and hearty German cuisine.
   The tradition includes a lantern parade, lighting of the Christmas tree, live nativity scene, carol singing, blacksmith demonstrations and classic European characters.
There are many good things to eat at the Christkindl Market.
   Have a photo taken with Christkindl (Christ Child) and her angels, Knecht Ruprecht, a companion of Saint Nicholas, and Klaus the organ grinder.
   From German brass brands and philharmonic choirs to classical European folk dancing and horse-drawn carriage rides, there’s always something to see and hear.
   Phoenix & Mercedes of the pop group Courage My Love are performing this year.
   For children, there are puppet shows and a model railway display along with weekend workshops to create wooden crafts.
   Opening ceremonies are on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. and the market is open that day and Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Dec. 4, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. christkindl.ca

   Lighting up the dark
   “When the air gets colder and the days get shorter, communities in every corner of the province turn on the lights,” said Nichole Fogarty of Festivals & Events Ontario, who suggests:
   - The Winter Festival of Lights, now through Jan. 31 in Niagara Falls, with “dazzling light displays” along the five-kilometre illumination route passing by the falls and through Dufferin Islands. wfol.com
   - River Lights Winter Festival, now through Dec. 18 in Amherstburg, is a “wonderland experience.”
   There are two decorated parks with a gingerbread house at Toddy Jones Park, Victorian and children’s themed light displays, period costumes, horse-drawn carriage rides and carollers. riverlights.ca

   - First Light at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, now through Dec. 10 in Midland, features a 17th-century holiday season celebration.
   There’s the “magical glow” of 5,000 candles at the historic site along with First Nations drumming and singing. saintemarieamongthehurons.on.ca

   Shop Stratford

   Downtown businesses are taking part in the Shop Stratford Christmas Contest.
   The “Festival City” has “transformed into a magical wonderland, with a great contest for shopping,” said Cathy Rehberg of the Stratford Tourism Alliance.
   The Shop Stratford Christmas Contest runs until Dec. 31 featuring a grand prize valued at more than $1,200 in gift items and certificates.
Stratford City Hall takes on a festive glow at this time of year.
   Fifteen local businesses have contributed to the prize package and everyone who visits the participating shops has a chance to enter the draw. visitstratford.ca/contest

   Santa on the rails

   All aboard with Santa on the Port Stanley Terminal Rail, weekends from Dec. 3 to 18 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

All aboard with Santa on the Port Stanley Terminal Rail.
   The “Santa Treats” train chugs through the Elgin County’s countryside and “children’s anticipation grows as we near our destination to meet Santa,” said rail president Dan Vernackt.
   The train departs and returns to the Port Stanley station (309 Bridge St.) by the King George Lift Bridge. It costs $15, adults; $9, children ages two to 14. pstr.on.ca; 1-877-244-4478


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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