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A Night in Two Parts at the Vancouver Christmas Market

I've been doing the Advent countdown with Little L, and I've been mixing gifts of varying sizes (from a box of Christmas bandaids to a gorgeous reading tent from Domestic Objects) with experiences for her to enjoy over the course of 25 days.

We have already opened four gifts and gone on the Polar Express in Squamish, and tonight we enjoyed the Vancouver Christmas Market, courtesy of Murray Paterson Marketing. Because we brought an impatient preschooler along, we were only able to enjoy a few of the awesome features offered at this year's bigger and better market, which is being held at the Jack Poole Plaza for the first time. As such, we will be back for an adults-only encore for date night tomorrow, which means this post will be broken down into two parts: avec Little L and sans the munchkin.

****Avec La Petite L****

Of course our kid's favourite feature, and the one we beelined to upon entry, was the carousel. Rides are $3/ride or $10/five rides, but most ticket packages can be purchased with a ride (plus unlimited reentry to the market - awesome!), and adults who don't ride but accompany their kid are free! Because our girl is nervous about most amusement park rides, her first one was with the both of us, and on a seat rather than a horse. Tonight was no different, and we were luckily able to grab the sled seat for our first time on the carousel. 

Now, I don't know if our ride operator was slacking or just blessing us due to the short line-up, but our ride was much longer than any carousel ride I've ever been on. Awesome sauce for our little ride-lover!

Sadly, as the lines grew, our subsequent rides were much shorter than that first one. I saw that the ride operator even had a timer beside his control panel, and yet it wasn't used at all when I was watching. Too bad, since them tickets aren't cheap ($6 for all three of us to ride)! 

While the space was a bit tricky to navigate with a stroller due to the multi-level platforms of the plaza, I did appreciate the ramps that were set up for folks on wheels. These ramps weren't always easy to find, but I am glad that there were ways to navigate the market with our Baby Jogger.

Next stop (and every subsequent stop) was for food, because they had way more food vendors this year, and the range is pretty diverse and delicious. There were waffles and crepes, chimney cakes, spaetzel, bratwurst, spiced nuts, Bavarian pretzels, rotatoes, German pizza, soup, churros, corn, chocolate, candies, schnitzel, stollen, and more! Basically, carb heaven. For this low-carber, however, the pork hocks with sauerkraut was my best option. Of course, I couldn't help myself, so I totally took a bite out of Little L's chimney cake with lemon curd (oh holy night - it was divine).

Then we had to bolt, because the little one was fading fast and having her nap at 7:00pm was simply not an option for us. Because I still wanted to check out the various stalls of the many craft merchants at the market, I insisted that we come back again tomorrow night. Hubbs is willing, so we will be heading for Round 2 (with cash on hand - this market prefers cash) tomorrow night!

PS - We also have a third visit planned, since Little L has not yet had her fill of the carousel. Thank God for their season passes! :)

PPS - Parking is at the Vancouver Convention West parkade. It is one of those paid private lots, and while it is super convenient to the market (literally it is right beside it, and there is ample space), the prices aren't cheap. Per hour, expect to shell out over $7. The food is delicious but a lot of it costs north of $5 so you'll want to bring a ton of cash for that too :)

****Sans La Petite Fille****

So last night was Media night, and also a Thursday. The rainy cold weather alongside the weeknight scheduling meant that traffic wasn't too awful and the market wasn't too crowded. Today, however, was Friday, and everyone's always looking for a good time on Friday nights. We anticipated a long line and a packed crowd, particularly since it was not raining and kind of mild outside.

Surprisingly, the reentry was painless, and the crowds were minimal at 6:00pm. We even scored metered parking across the street, which was a bit cheaper than parking in the heated, covered lot.

This time, we armed ourselves with a ton of cash and took the time to stop at various vendor stalls to admire their goods. Festive nutcrackers, intricate incense burners, amazing scented soy candles, handcrafted woodwork, delicate glass ornaments, locally-harvested wild mushrooms, and cozy knit accessories were just some of the many vendors at the market. 

One of our highlights, however, was the not-kid-friendly Kathe Wohlfahrt ornament shop/tented pavilion, which up to this point Hubbs and I had never visited (despite having come to this market nearly every year since our move). It blew our minds! Every conceivable kind of ornament was there, along with these moving wooden scenes that remind me of animatronics window displays and cuckoo clocks, and schwibbogen, beautiful decorative traditional German candleholders. We weren't allowed to snap any close-up photos inside but here's my collage to give you an idea:

We spent a good amount of time just oohing and aahing over their gorgeous wares, and I told Hubbs that once Little L is old enough not to break stuff, I will be back to buy new trinkets for our tree!

Next stop: food. Of course. We needed another meat fix, so this time we shared a full pork hock. Yes, the whole fat leg. It was as delicious as I remembered 😜

We also splurged on a fried roto-zucchini, which I am fairly certain is not historically a German food. Then again, neither are Spanish Churros, but they were at this market too! Some other foods that I didn't try, but wished I could (carbs!), included chocolates, potato pancakes, and pierogies.

With filled tummies and some tasty treats to haul home, we departed the Vancouver Christmas Market, promising to return several times more before the 2016 season is up.

Should you go this year? A resounding yes! It is the best value to date, now that there is more to see and taste at this bigger (and better, more scenic and bright) location. Also, the earlier you buy your ticket (with the season pass option), the more you will get your money's worth in re-entries, although who are we kidding? You will also likely be kissing your dollars goodbye for costs like parking and carousel rides and shopping and food each time you go. The atmosphere is very festive, though, and the market is a fantastic way to kick off a month's worth of holiday celebrations. It is just one of those great traditions that will be on our family's calendar annually, and an experience not to be missed, even if the nutcrackers give Little L the creeps. 🎄


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