Hello, and welcome to the WRX Property Group website! We’ve said it many times, and if you’re looking into properties in the region, you might already have an inkling, but let’s just say it again: Kitchener-Waterloo is a great place to live.
One of the best things about the area is the events held here throughout the seasons; and every year, around the beginning of December, the Christkindl Market comes to King Street West, right by Kitchener’s City Hall.
The 2017 Christkindl Market will run from Thursday, December 7th – Sunday, December 10th, from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free, and there is free 2-hour parking on certain downtown streets, and in City-owned garages on Charles & Benton, Duke & Ontario, and City Hall on Young Street (check Downtown Kitchener’s parking page here for more information on parking around downtown).
The event’s Facebook page can be found here.
What is Christkindl Market?
First of all, what is a Christkindl Market? Well, like many of Kitchener-Waterloo’s traditions and much of its history, it stretches back to Germany. In the 14th-century, German-speaking towns and cities (such as Frankfurt and Munich) began to usher in the Advent season by opening temporary, outdoor markets known as Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindlmarkt (German for ‘Christ Child Market’).
These festive markets featured resplendent, candlelit opening ceremonies; traditional singing and dancing; and wooden stalls set up to sell local wares. You can imagine the medieval villagers revelling in the joyous sights and sounds, and enjoying the intermingling scents of mulled wine, gingerbread, toasted nuts, and Bratwurst that wafted through the air.
These Christmas markets spread across Europe, including the magnificent Striezelmarkt that opened in Dresden in 1434 (it will be celebrating its 583rd anniversary this year), and more as time marched on. More spread throughout the vast territory of the Holy Roman Empire, and wherever German immigrants travelled (including North America).
Indeed, there is an annual competition for the best Christmas Markets in Europe: 2016’s winner was Zagreb, Croatia; its brightly coloured, festive market was a sight worth seeing. Christkindl Market’s have a rich history, and people have been enjoying them for centuries for good reason.
Let’s get back to Kitchener-Waterloo. As you may know, German Mennonite settlers from Pennsylvania came to the Waterloo Region in the early 19th-century, and as the towns of Waterloo and Berlin grew, more immigrants from Germany and Switzerland began to arrive.
They brought with them the traditions and language of their homes (including Oktoberfest), and thus, the ground for Kitchener’s Christkindl Market has been laid for over a century. In 1996, forward-thinking (and perhaps backward-remembering?) resident Tony Bergmeier brought the Christkindl Market to Kitchener’s City Hall, and it has been running ever since.
Gifts & Creations
Kitchener’s Christkindl Market has won several awards over the years, and it’s truly embedded itself into the fabric of the Waterloo Region’s holiday season. Speaking of fabric, there are over 90 vendors set up with both traditional wooden and indoor huts for the 2017 Christkindl Market!
Handmade, wooden ornaments, nutcrackers, and carved toys make shopping for gifts easy (and it’s great to support local artisans); and a variety of jewellery and clothing vendors mean you can get a special, little festive something for a special someone.
There are plenty of lovely objects sold here, but a Christkindl Market just wouldn’t be a Christkindl Market without some lovely food and beverages.
You’ll be able to enjoy all of your favourite German treats, here: adults can sip some steaming Glühwein as they stroll (a centuries-old, heated, flavourful red wine, typically spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and citrus, though it varies by vendor) – there’s a non-alcoholic version, too.
Pop by Stickling’s Bakery, where you can feast on everything from Hutzelbrot (a southern-German and Swiss bread with fruits and nuts) to Elisen Lebkuchen (a sweet, and sometimes spicy, Christmas treat that varies by region – somewhat like a soft, round gingerbread cookie).
Were you hoping there would be waffles? Well guess what: there are waffles – waffles of the delicious, Belgian variety. There’s a lot more than just sweets, of course: you’ll be able to find all your savoury German favourites, from Bratwurst to Schnitzel, and from pretzels to Oktoberfest beer nuts.
All the delicious food and drink at the Christkindl Market is available to enjoy as you walk around, or to take home.
The Christkindl Market is worth visiting for its wide range of vendors and its wonderful decorations alone, but there’s more: throughout its four-day run, the Christkindl Market has hours of live entertainment (which, like the market itself, is free to enjoy).
Each day features many musical delights and more, but here are some highlights: on Thursday at 5:30 is a sing-along with the Grand Philharmonic Choir (you can purchase or bring your own lantern, or pick up a free candle), followed by a Candlelight procession along Gaukel Street to City Hall, and culminating in the Opening Ceremonies (including the lighting of the Christmas Tree on Civic Square) at 6:20.
On Friday at 6:30 is a performance by the Alpine Dancers, a troupe of Austrian folk dancers who also graced the stage in Kitchener-Waterloo’s Oktoberfest (as the 1965 Academy Awards can attest, people love dancing Austrians).
On Saturday from 3:00 – 6:00 is a ‘Santa’s Workshop,’ in which a team of helpers will guide children in creating something special. And finally, on Sunday at 2:00 is a performance by the Swiss Farmers Band – a group of Swiss farmers who formed a band (as the name implies) that has played at every single Christkindl Market!
Of course, this is just a small sampling. There is entertainment running throughout the four-day period, including the ‘Blacksmiths on the Square,’ who will be providing demonstrations from Friday to Sunday. You can see the whole program here.
Kitchener-Waterloo’s Christkindl Market is a lovely tradition. It’s worth the trip downtown just to marvel at the regal grandeur of the Christkindl Market’s glowing Christmas Tree – it may even move you to spontaneously burst into an acapella rendition of ‘O Christmas Tree’ (though, if we’re being picky, O Tannenbaum might be more appropriate.
Better bring an English-German dictionary just in case). But the jovial spirit throughout the market, the wide range of vendors, and the generous offerings of live entertainment really make it something special. The Christkindl Market is truly something to behold (or beho-ho-hold, if you will [I’m contractually-obligated to include at least 1 Christmas pun; it’s the ‘Santa clause’]).
If you’d like to know more about Kitchener-Waterloo’s German heritage, and an overview of the cities as they are today, be sure to check out the WRX articles on them here: Kitchener and Waterloo.
You can also check out more of the magic of Christkindl Market in their video section.
Written by Will Kummer