As a huge fan of the Vancouver Christmas Market, and an attendee since 2016, it’s my family’s favourite way to kick off the holidays. We love to shop for new glass and wooden ornaments that have a flair of nostalgia to them. We love to eat all the foods both local and German dishes. Shopping Christmas gifts while sipping on mulled wine or German beer. It’s the ultimate German Christmas market experience without booking a flight to Europe.
But this year we saw a big change in the Vancouver Christmas Market and we can’t yet decide if it is for the better. This year our favourite German vendor, Käthe Wohlfhart was noticeably missing. Käthe Wohlfhart was always their feature gem at the market with a line up to get inside the only indoor shopping at the market. They provided items like the wooden German pyramids, advent calendars, glass and wooden ornaments, specialty candles and holiday incense holders. It was THE vendor to shop.
In the place of the German vendor was a large covered dining area along the seawall with picnic tables. Definitely something needed as they seem to outgrow their location rather quickly. There was also a huge focus on the food and drinks instead of the shopping. This year the Vancouver Christmas Market seemed geared towards an older crowd with no Santa for photos, and plenty of alcoholic beverages and foods that my 4 year old wouldn’t touch with a 10 food pole.
This year there was a large food court that was central the market. Lit by holiday lights and the Christmas tree at the centre there were the majority of the food vendors in a rectangle. You could find classics like pork schnitzel, Mr Hot Cakes (the best sweet bite of the night!) and new Vancouver favourites like Squid Feast – a vendor we tried at the Richmond Night Market.
Sadly my spaetzle was missing as was the most delicious vanilla sauce over my Black Forest Bratapfel! Another irritating note, one of the longest lines was Mr Pretzel, something you can get at a shopping mall food court. I mean come on…
As we walked around the Vancouver Christmas market with mulled wine in hand I did notice a silver lining coming with all this change. The amount of BC vendors exceeded past attendance. Drink Bombs from the Okanagan, charcuterie from Kamloops, and many more. Perhaps this German market has an eye to become more Vancouver, to highlight and encourage people to buy local, in the long run? If so, this is something I can get behind but they must replace those vendors we know and love with quality local vendors. OR the lack in vendors this year could be due to the difficulties and rising costs in everything including how hard it is to secure a Santa this year.
Despite my complaints as a long time devotee of the Vancouver Christmas Market, I realize that it is magical no matter if it is your first time going or your 20th. The magic remains despite the changes. We just didn’t spend as much money as we normally would. In fact, most of our spending went towards food and drinks rather than items.