The Kitchener-Waterloo region is deeply proud of its Teutonic heritage and the annual Christkindl Market has delighted residents and visitors for over 20 years, historically combining mainstays of traditional Christmas markets with Germanic traditions like polka dances and pageants.

What began as a small Christmas exhibit of just 12 merchant’s huts in Kitchener’s City Hall Square, modelled after the traditional market in Germany, has evolved into a massive event that now takes over a portion of the town’s main street. Annually, the event hosts over a hundred exhibitors and 40,000 attendees visiting to shop, sightsee and be immersed in German culture and holiday magic over four days in early December. This event is Canada’s original Christkindl market, and although it began here in 1997, the roots of the market date back thousands of years to medieval times. 

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The traditional opening ceremony includes choristers and market enthusiasts caroling together, as candles and Christmas lights set the city square aglow. The Christkindl angels, clad in golden robes, greet the crowd from a balcony overlooking the square from Kitchener’s City Hall and – finally – a giant Christmas tree is lit and the market is officially open. In addition to the heavenly Christkindl angels, performers dressed as characters from German folklore can be found throughout the market, including Christkind, and Knecht Ruprecht — St. Niklaus’ companion, who carries a bagful of treats for those who have been nice and wooden switches with which to punish naughty kids!

As with most things this year, the holidays may look a little different, and so too will the Christkindl Market. This year’s event will be a brand new type of experience that can be enjoyed from anywhere, but never fear — holiday spirit and sparkle will still emanate from the K‑W region this season, as Bingemans’ Gift of Lights promises to delight visitors either from their cars or on foot. Two and a half kilometres featuring more than 300 twinkling light displays will be lit up throughout the month of December, with sparkling snowflakes and reindeer flying overhead. 

The 2020 Christkindl Market Experience

The innovative online format of this year’s Christkindl market has a few exciting surprises up its sleeve: first and foremost – extended dates! Rather than taking place over just one weekend, the event will be live from December 1st-24th, bringing all visitors holiday cheer for almost an entire month. The extended festival will include an exciting digital advent calendar, with the official Christkindl Market website sharing stories, holiday crafts, seasonal recipes, videos and memories from markets past. 

Also new for the 2020 event are the Christkindl-Market-In-A-Box” packages. Only a limited number will be sold and will include a true taste of the holidays: the market’s famous Glühwein. This delicious mulled wine is a staple of any Christmas market, and the scrumptious spiced aroma filling the air will transport you right to the city square and some of your favourite memories from past years. The Glühwein included in the Christkindl Market Box will be non-alcoholic, so the whole family can toast to the holidays together, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try your hand at making your own holiday mulled wine. There are hundreds of variations with different spices and fruits, so you can find your own perfect combination and enjoy. A word to the wise: sip slowly – Glühwein loosely translates to glow wine”, thanks in part to the lovely red colour of your cheeks after warming up with a cup…or two.

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If you’re wondering where to get your treasures and trinkets without visiting a local vendor’s market hut, not to worry, Christkindl Market will still have all of your holiday shopping needs covered. Although all vendors will have different arrangements, you can still purchase the perfect gift for a loved one (or for yourself, we won’t tell) from your favourite local artisans online. A full vendor list will be available on the Christkindl Market website and offerings will include everything from holiday decor, handmade gifts, and the delicious kind of specialty food and treats that can only be found in Kitchener at this time of year.

So, Happy Holidays to all, or – as they say in Kitchener-Waterloo – Fröhliche Weihnachten.

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