When Vancouver Christmas Market launched in 2009, there wasn’t much competition downtown for family friendly festive activities: the market, a visit to mall Santa, and you were done. In the last couple of years, though, a number of new events have arrived on the scene, and the market needed to up its game to compete with the interlopers.
It has. Old faves like the traditional carousel and the walk-in Christmas tree are always winners, plus there's the Christmas Pyramid’s Flying Stage, which sits 10 feet above the market and hosts daily entertainment for little ones to dance to. Our kids also loved the Kinder Kraft Igloo, sponsored by 4Cats Arts Studio, where they made snowflakes and Christmas stars with the friendly assistance of expert helpers. A treasure hunt was the perfect activity for a six-year-old who’s learning to read. Pro tip: Get it done early as some of the rewards include extra rides on the carousel. We claimed our prize at the end, with no time for extra activities, so there were tears on the car-ride home.
Since it’s a market, there’s shopping, too, including eco-friendly merchants such as Kasandy, which sells beautiful ethical leather goods and scarves from Kenya, MysGreen, which specializes in reusable pouches and beeswax food wraps, and Rü Supply Company, a local firm that makes lunch bags from recycled material. Foodies will be pleased to find their usual faves like pretzels, bratwursts, schnitzel and pork hocks, plus a range of newbies including turkey legs from Turkey Haus, Dutch pancakes from Two Sweet Elves, and sweet treats from East Van Roasters. Wash it all down with some mulled wine or cider.
There’s plenty of other stuff to see around the market including a giant 10th anniversary mug in its centre, a light tunnel dubbed Lovers’ Lane, and a Love Lock Installation. Perhaps best of all, unlike some other events that feel like just a pretty backdrop for Instagram photos, it’s retained its family friendly, cheery atmosphere, with plenty for everyone to do. —Aileen Lalor