One of Vancouver’s most beloved winter traditions is back for another exciting year. Returning to Jack Poole Plaza for more vendors, more food, more activities, and much more fun. This is the Vancouver Christmas market running from November 16th to December 24th, 2023 and we got an early look during this year’s media day.
The market is designed to resemble a sleepy German Town, all vendors work out of house shaped booths with roofs and their own sign German-ized with “Das” and “Haus” before or after it. For example, “Das Charcuterie Haus” and “Das Smoked Meat Haus”, both new for the season.
Ticket holders are grated access to the market grounds with over 90 artisan huts to explore, many of which offer handcrafted items such as candles, keychains, ornaments, and giftable confections. There are so many unique, local artists to shop from, that I am sure there is something for everyone on your list. From artistic gingerbread that can double as decor, to chocolates too precious to eat. From crochet flowers for bouquets that never die, to cocktail bombs you can put your glass and add liquor to, for an easy mixing drink. There were vendors selling soaps, one with wooden toys and hand-knit dolls, pearl jewelry, and ugly Christmas sweaters. There is a booth dedicated to Nutcrackers, another for drinking steins, and even one for modern interpretations of Russian nesting dolls. Not to mention ornaments of all kinds.
For all I did see, there was 50% I didn’t get to. You can spend hours trying to take it all in, so the following is all the food and drinks we had, plus the activities we took in. And I strongly suggest not only visiting yourself to experience all this, but to check out the Vancouver Christmas Market website’s vendor list, before hand, to ensure you don’t miss anything, like I did.
Starting with Glühwein, also known as everyone’s favourite warm winter cocktail. Nothing like a cup of mulled wine to warm up your hands and yourself, inside out. Grab yours from the market’s landmark: the Christmas Pyramid; and be sure to enjoy it in this year’s keepsake mug.
The Christmas Pyramid resembles a tower with a propellor circling up top. It also doubles as their “flying stage” with a line up of holiday entertainment performing live within, daily.
Today we got a taste of that through the a cappella group “The Gingerbread Men”, singing classic holiday songs and some new ones I have yet to hear.
There is German and Austrian beers by the can, or you can take a seat at the Alpine Haus and grab a drink and a bite there. This is also where Christmas karaoke will be held. On November 24, November 27, December 4, and December 11, from 6-9 p.m., belt out all your favourite Christmas songs with DJ Boogie Shoes.
Not into singing? Then visit on either November 28th or December 12th, where the Alpen Haus will be hosting holiday trivia from 6-7 p.m instead.
A few new vendors we were unable to sample from, but worth nothing are the Montreal smoked meat stall, Thomakis for the “best Greek yogurt”, a booth dedicated to apple strudel, and one with Black Forest cake. And Chella Georgian Sweet Haus, who will be introducing guests to Churchkhela, a traditional snack from Georgia.
Popular vendors from years back will also be returning, like the Swiss cheese raclette stall, and the classic German schnitzel and spaetzle Haus. Plus, the always popular bratwurst. These Bratwurst are sausages pan-fried and served in a white bread roll with sauerkraut, and help yourself ketchup and mustard.
There was pork shank on the spit, slowly rotating and making a scene. This is Schweinshaxe roasted on a special rotisserie until it’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
There was soup paired with grilled cheese sandwiches made with three types of cheeses. The creamy tomato wasn’t percolating today so we got their popular hearty mushroom with five types of mushrooms instead. The classic French onion is also a good choice, cheesy and sweet from the caramelized onions.
I liked the Lángos, a traditional Hungarian street food. It is a deep-fried flatbread, served with your choice of sweet and/or savoury toppings, like garlic spread, sour cream, grated cheese, bacon bits, jam, or chocolate. Think, the Hungarian version of a beaver tail.
Familiar soft pretzel chain, Mr. Pretzel was also on site with their pretzel dough prepared on the spot, hand-rolled in front of their guests, for optimal freshness and taste. Made with whole wheat, they are low in fat, and contains no preservatives.
Looking for something to whet that sweet tooth? The Pancake and Waffle Haus is back with their poffertjes, a mini puffed pancakes, originating from the Netherlands. Baked on big square brass plates indented with small holes, the little cakes are traditionally greased with oil and served with butter and sugar.
Looking for a more substantial bite? They also have Croffle (a compound word of croissant and waffle). This is a dessert invented in Ireland where croissant raw paper is baked in a waffle pan and eaten with ice cream or maple syrup. You can get either dressed in a bevy of familiar candy, chocolate, and fruit topping combinations.
There are also traditional Spanish churros. Long tubes of fried-dough either coated in white or dark chocolate, or left as is to be dipped into a caramel or chocolate sauce.
And if you prefer your dough in a cone over a stick, head to the Transylvanian Chimney Cakes booth for their spiral of sweet, flaky dough coated with sugar. Roasted on a spit, these are evenly burnished, and crunchy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside.
And after all that eating you will probably need to walk it off. Outside of the live music and artisan vendors to shop; there are plenty of photo ops around the market to take in, appreciate, and have as the perfect picture backdrop.
Frolick with Vancouver Christmas Market mascots “Holly and Jolly”.
The walk-in Christmas Tree is a popular location for winter proposals. Or look to the tunnel of lights that has mistletoe hung.
You can get cozy in a sled or write your name on love locks and have it added to installation.
There is also a scavenger hunt for kids, the opportunity to take photos with St. Nikolaus, and a lantern parade that will go through the convention centre.
And one of my favourite attraction is the carrousel available for all ages, sponsored by Aeroplan, and free for anyone to ride.
In short there is so much to see and do at this year’s Vancouver Christmas Market that one visit is not enough.
Vancouver Christmas Market
Jack Poole Plaza
1055 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 3G3 vancouverchristmasmarket.com