Christmas just isn’t Christmas for many Calgarians until they attend the annual International Christmas Market at Spruce Meadows.
The market is a three-weekend event in late November and early December, at which local craftspeople display their creations.
Vendors of all types participate, including jewelery makers, and creators of natural bath products, home décor items and even exotic treats.
And hundreds of Calgarians come, to sample new products, sip hot chocolate, and generally drink in the spirit of the season.
Emma Likness, a second-year student in the legal assistant program at Bow Valley College, came out this year.
“It was super busy but everyone there, both people attending and people selling, were in a very good mood. The atmosphere was full of holiday cheer,” Likness said.
The market, which is held at the popular equestrian facility at the south end of the city, has become a tradition for not only families but vendors as well.
“My favourite part about it is the hot chocolate booth and the fact that going every year really marks the start of the holiday season for my family,” said Likness.
Rob Baraniuk has been coming to the Christmas market for 15 years. He has created fashion jewelery, Signature Collection Jewelery, and personal Christmas ornaments for the Santa’s Christmas House kiosks.
“I like the spirit of the people. It’s a joyful and cheerful atmosphere,” he says of the market.
“Seven years ago I began designing product. A mall approached us to make a kiosk and it did very well. We were some of the first ones in Canada to have something like that,” he said in an interview.
Baraniuk owes the success of his business to customer service. Customers have been coming to his kiosks for years and he strives to create a personal relationship with them.
“Customers know us and know what we can do,” he said.
Happy Hippo Bath Co. is based in Sylvan Lake, Alta. and sells natural Epsom salt-based products at various kiosks. This year was the first time the company has participated in the Spruce Meadows market.
“It’s been steady so far but we hear it gets busy on Friday and Saturday nights and on Sundays,” says Nicki Van Eck, a worker at the Happy Hippo kiosk.
The market is a good way to generate new customers as well as get the name of the business out there.
“We want to bring awareness to natural bath products and how good it feels to use them,” says Sarah Burton, another worker at the kiosk.
“My favourite part about it is the hot chocolate booth and the fact that going every year really marks the start of the holiday season for my family. –Emma Likness
Likness believes that the market is a great way for consumers to discover and fall in love with new things.
“Everything is stuff you can’t get at the mall. My mom has things she swears by that she’s bought from the market. I definitely think it’s a great way for small business owners to get their names out there too,” she says.
“Joyful kids, the lights, the food. I think I love everything there is to love about Christmas,” says Burton.
“I think my favourite thing about Christmas is all the food I get to eat. It’s just so delicious,” says Van Eck.