Our family took a trip to the Distillery’s Christmas Market in late November right when it opened, while the cold was still tolerable and the festive crowds hadn’t quite gathered yet.
The last time I’d been was a few years ago in the middle of December, freezing my ass off in long lineups and hoards of market-goers.
It was nice to take family, as I don’t usually get to spend time with my family around this time period, and we wandered about some of my favourite Distillery haunts (read: SOMA) and also to indulge in some of classic Christmas Market must-dos (line up for free samples, drink free tea, buy expensive Turkey leg).
It’s the seventh year that the Distillery is transforming itself into a wonderland of lights, cheer, festivity and vendors to bring some warmth to this frigid winter city.
I thought it appropriate to head over in the late afternoon to watch the market slowly light up as the day darkened into evening. There’s something quite compelling in the mix of old cobblestone and brick of the Distillery and the rusty light of sunshine heading into night time. It also really brings out the magic of what good lighting can do to any venue.
Near the market centre was the tree, carousel and ferris wheel, all playing their own melodies while the stage nearby hosted choral groups, and musical acts of all kinds. I guess the ferris wheel is meant to gesture to the carnival wheel more than the romantic, slow-moving wheels from Asia that I tend to think of.
I guess there’s a novelty to the speed of the ferris wheel that is rotating so quickly, and I’m also guessing that the point of the wheel is not for a scenic look at the view, but more for the thrill of being up in the air.
Whatever the festive season might be, and however anyone is celebrating, it’s nice to go out and take a look at how a city comes together to communally mark a season or time passing. This year, Toronto is host to many more holiday markets, such as the one at Nathan Philips, and the Evergreen Brick Works. In a distant way, these communal market events remind me of the street and flea markets from the cities back home, albeit much more fluffy, well-kept and festive. I think the concept of small clusters of stalls and throngs of people is quite universal, although they vary in form, purpose and even cultural value.
Either way, if gift-giving is a part of the season, diverting your money to artisanal vendors is a wonderful way of affirming their work and acquiring thoughtful gifts. There are also pop-up markets in church buildings across the city, malls and empty lots! It’s pretty tough to brave the elements to put your product in other people’s hands, so if you make a connection with a product, your purchase might just warm more than one person up.
I walked away from the Christmas Market with a soy candle (being guilty of collecting candles and other home decor) and half a Turkey leg, which I then turned into a broth that sustained me for a week. Sometimes, you gotta make the thing worth the hefty price. 🙂 Nothing speaks festive season like giant pots of soup!