I love the holidays and Christmas time. Everyone is so cheerful and happy. There are lots of parties and so much good food. I start looking forward to the festive season as soon as it hits November which is mostly dark and gloomy, full of rain. Well, at least in Vancouver it is.
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One of the biggest things I miss about living in Europe are all the Christmas markets. There’s something so festive about wandering around the outdoor booths, looking at fun crafts, stuffing my face with delicious foods and sipping on mulled wine. A couple years ago, Vancouver started its own Christmas market and it’s one of my favourite things to do during the holidays in Vancouver. While it’s not exactly like the markets in Europe, it’s close enough.
There are plenty of booths selling interesting ornaments and crafts and lots of trees and pretty holiday lights. While I looked, nothing really tempted me either.
Of course, being a German Christmas market, many booths of gluhwein (mulled wine) dotted the market. They had different kinds this year. Normally I’ve only ever seen (and tasted) the traditional kind, but I got a cup of their apple variety this year as well. It’s not as strong tasting, but didn’t taste like apple either. Either way it was warm and yummy.
Food is always a highlight and I was really looking forward to enjoying a pork knuckle. It was really tender and delicious. All it was missing was some strong mustard.
We also grabbed some potato pancakes which I found overly oily and soggy.
The market has a carousel and my friend had snagged us some free rides (normally $3 a ride). I don’t remember the last time I was on a carousel, but it was actually quite enjoyable and it ended all too soon.
One of the drawbacks is how expensive it all is. Admission is $7 per person at the time of writing. Most Christmas markets in Europe don’t even charge an admission – you just wander in. Once you get inside, everything is pretty pricey too. My pork hock meal was $15 and the potato pancakes were $8. Granted, that pork hock, was HUGE so I can forgive that. A cup of mulled wine set me back $6 each with a $4 deposit for the mug which you can return for your money back.
It’s also a bit strange how the market has combined a number of different European countries within the market. They call themselves an “authentic German Christmas market” and yet there are Eastern European crafts next to Dutch Poffertjes next to Ukrainian crepes. Mixed in with it are Canadian treats like Beavertails, a sugar shack featuring maple candy, and local honey. Nothing wrong with it – just different.
I give them a round of applause in trying to emulate the same look of a European market, but it’s just not quite there. Maybe it’s just all the English and the fact that I understand everything around me. Or maybe it’s all the North American buildings surrounding the market square. There is definitely something just not quite the same. Regardless of the slight differences, going to the Christmas market reminds me of my time in Europe and definitely gets me in the mood for the holidays. Now to figure out how to make my own mulled wine…
Have you been to a European Christmas market outside of Europe? How was it?
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Vancouver Christmas Market
Queen Elizabeth Plaza
650 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 2P1
Nov 22 – Dec 23, 11AM-9PM; Dec 24, 11AM-6PM