A German Christmas Market Lands in Vancouver

For a little while longer, the aromas of Bratwurst and mulled wine will continue to welcome Vancouverites into the city’s one and only German-style Christmas Market – WITH German vendors from Germany!

At first it looked like the market was doomed. On the day of the planned openng, a propane tank exploded and half the market went up in flames.

I was watching the live CBC video feed and it didn’t look pretty – black smoke billowing up from the plywood.  Miraculously, a few nights later this Old World meets New World experiment was back on track. With all signs of the fire erased, hundreds of people, myself included, lined up around the block, eager to sample some Old World Christmas delicacies.

Christmas markets are a staple in Germany.   Visit any town in December and  its central square will be lined with stalls selling baking, pretzel, baked apple and naturally, “Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut.”

The market will be full of people wandering the maze of stalls, mug of mulled wine in hand, filling their bellies and communing with their neighbours. I had the chance to visit southern town of Ulm’s market a few years ago.I happened upon it in the 4pm twilight just as thousands of decorative lights began to light up the booths. As I watched large snowflakes drifting between them and Ulm’s famous cathedral, the whole thing took on a timeless Hans Grimm quality.

With B.C. Hydro on one side; our bizaree Public Library on the other, and December showers more likely  than snowflakes, you could say a true German market is a tough act for Vancouver to follow. But hey, I bought it. On a chilly night after waiting in a twenty minute line, a 8$ Bratwurst and a $4 dollar hot mulled went down really, really well.   As I  chewed and looked about, I was impressed by the carefully decorated stalls and the energy  with which the German vendors did their thing.  The design of the market reminds me of Ulm as well – a quadrant of food stalls with a cluster of middle booths selling baking and crafts. Bratwurst and wine dispatched, I looked around at the glowing faces of my fellow Vancouverites and any skepticism about this hastily erected Christmas Market half a world away from its origins melted away.