Calgary’s biggest Christmas Market is back in full tilt after pandemic pause

Stocking stuffers and Christmas spirit: The Equi-Plex at the Spruce Meadows International Christmas Market in Calgary on Dec. 2, 2022. This is the main indoor location for vendors during the International Christmas Market. (Photo by Ahman Panjwani/The Press)

Ranked fourth in Christmas markets worldwide by Planet Cruise, the Spruce Meadows International Christmas Market, presented by TELUS, is back after a two-year pull back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Ashley Jimenez, media coordinator for Spruce Meadows, the Christmas market has grown since its birth in 2001.

“We started with less than 50 vendors and a couple of small tents, and now we’ve grown to take up much of the developed property with over 300 unique vendors.”

The Christmas market also features petting zoos, Christmas light displays, and snacks from around the world.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and regulations over the last two years, organizers had to adjust and take things online to allow vendors to sell their products.

“We invested heavily in a platform where people could shop the same way they shop on Amazon, in a way where they could pick products from all these different vendors and have it all go through in one transaction,” said Jimenez.

While the online market made an impact, vendors, who depend highly on events like these for awareness and profitability, saw less-than-normal sales during this time.

Edmonton-based business, Mittz Inc., started by Iain Anthony and Scott McKenzie in 2018, was among those whose operations were interrupted by the pandemic. Luckily, they were able to weather the storm and return in person to the Christmas market this year.

“It’s a unique product, and people love it. [We] come down here to most of the Christmas markets [because] it’s our busiest time of year,” stated McKenzie.

Vendors like Mittz Inc. see traffic of 5,000 to 7,500 people daily at the Christmas market for three consecutive weekends.

According to Jimenez, vendors are part of the 75 to 80 per cent return rate. Unfortunately, some vendors could not return because of COVID-19 impacts on their businesses, including a lack of inventory.

While Calgary’s weather is unpredictable, the Christmas market has most of its vendors in indoor facilities, creating a warm and comfortable environment for people to browse and shop local.

“This year, we did a big focus in what we call Winter Wonderland,” said Jimenez. “It’s a bit of a kid zone. We brought in a petting zoo [and] some local authors are doing some readings.”

This year’s Christmas market ran for three weekends from Nov. 18. Tickets were $15 for adults, with discounts for children and seniors.

“We really tried to give people who were coming kind of added value to their tickets,” said Jimenez. “It gives a little bit more of a feel for the family atmosphere.”

Cold drink, warm hand: Scott McKenzie showcasing his Canadian Drinking Mittz inside the Equi-Plex at the Spruce Meadows International Christmas Market in Calgary on Dec. 2, 2022. McKenzie’s products allow people to enjoy beverages while keeping their hands warm. (Photo by Ahman Panjwani/The Press)
About Ahman Panjwani 4 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Ahman Panjwani is working as a writer for The Press in 2022-23.