Video: How to Visit a World-Class Christmas Market without a Trip to Europe
by: Lynn Elmhirst, Ship2Shore.TV
Even the bah-humbug types, if they admit it, are charmed by European Christmas markets. Christmas markets really do capture the best of the holiday spirit with Olde Worlde charm, a celebration of winter, and they’re a great source to stock up on essential Christmas traditions like home made decorations, baking, toys, and (the rarest and most important Christmas commodity) good will.
Toronto’s Christmas Market
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting some of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe: in Dusseldorf with friends who introduced me to Gluhwein, and more recently, I sailed on the Arosa Silva on a Christmas market river cruise in Germany, with magical night time visits to Regensburg and the mac-daddy Christmas market of them all, Nuremburg.
But this year, I stayed closer to home, and could still take part in the delightful tradition of Christmas markets. Toronto’s Christmas market has been rated one of the world’s best! And no jet lag!
A majestic 54-foot Christmas tree decorated with 18,000 balls is the jewel in the crown of the Christmas atmosphere of the city’s Distillery District, one of Toronto’s most delightful pedestrian historic neighbourhoods and the largest collection of Victorian industrial architecture on the continent. It’s a perfect setting for a modern, North American interpretation of a European holiday tradition.
Toronto’s Christmas Market vs European Christmas Markets
What’s the difference between Canadian and German/ European Christmas markets? The winter festive spirit is pretty much the same joyful experience (English carols replacing German ones), and there are charming booths, food, drink, and decor, but there are some differences: in Toronto, the gluhwein is called mulled wine (equally delicious, take my word for it, a warming spiced gluhwein is a must do), and although I luckily could get my yearly fix of marzipan, stollen, and even my Dutch favourite sweet, syrup waffles, a hipster Canadian twist was there in the form of chocolate dipped bacon!
This really is where the Olde Worlde meets New! I met friends there from some the great European Christmas market destination partners including Arosa River Cruises, Avalon Waterways, and the next European winter destination I hope to experience, Switzerland!
There’s also a philanthropic angle that means a lot to me. A number of charities benefit from the Toronto Christmas spirit including one fun record challenge. Here’s what they’re hoping to do on the closing day of the Christmas market:
World Caroling Challenge
“Join us at 5pm, December 15th for the Mill Street World Caroling Challenge at the Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District. Mill Street will hand out reusable LED candles and candleholders and will to donate $1 to Daily Bread Food Bank for every person that participates. In addition, we encourage and welcome visitors to bring non-perishable food donations to give the daily Bread Food Bank.”