Philadelphia’s third annual Christmas Village offers holiday gifts, performances, arts and crafts, holiday food and more.
As the holiday fuss along the west side of City Hall indicates, Christmas Village has returned to Philadelphia for the third time since 2008 with more vendors, booths and activities.
This year, more than 80 vendors are selling international holiday gifts, including several European food stands and a never-ending supply of authentic mulled wine. The Christmas Village outdoor holiday market resembles the traditional “Christkindlesmarkt” that has taken place in Nuremberg, Germany, since the late 1620s.
“It’s not just for Germans,” marketing manager Isabel Menasch said. “The main target of the Christmas Village is to meet your friends, to drink something and to get delicious food.”
Ariel Peredo, a sophomore business major who works at the Christmas Village, said it “really puts you in the holiday spirit.”
This year, Peredo works at the Bejam booth, where she sells recycled products made of juice bags from the Philippines. Each hand-woven product supports more than 500 families in the Philippines.
Brad Moore, a junior film and media arts major, works inside a large, white tent filled with finely crafted German Christmas treasures by Kathe Wohlfahrt. It is Moore’s second year in a row working at the Wohlfahrt tent.
Moore said it is entertaining to see, “little kids running around and getting so excited to see the nutcrackers,” and enjoys working with different kinds of people.
Along with the booths where Peredo and Moore work, a new food tent catered by Chaddsford Winery and Brauhaus Schmitz offers bratwursts, potato pancakes, goulash and traditional hot gluhwine.
Several other food booths sell sweet Christmas edibles, such as lebkuchen, stollen, spekulatius, chocolate-covered fruits and frosted nuts. Graver’s Christmas Tree Farm is also present with real Christmas trees and wreaths to decorate for the holidays.
“Students should definitely go,” Peredo said. “Even if you don’t want to buy anything.”
Organizers expect that more than 300,000 visitors from all over the world will attend the Christmas Village by Christmas Eve.
“Many new ideas have been implemented in the attempt to make the 2010 Christmas Village in Philadelphia even more attractive than last year,” Menasch said.
Several musical performances are scheduled daily for the Christmas Village’s central stage, with appearances from local church choirs and orchestras, as well as traditional German dance groups and singers. Menasch and event manager Ulrike Fischer said Christmas Village is always open to new artists and performers becoming involved.
Twenty-two wooden houses were built this year, along with more than 50 returning vendors from last year, each offering one-of-a-kind holiday toys, ornaments, candles, jewelry and arts and crafts.
According to the Christmas Village’s website, many events will take place throughout December, including ornament-painting classes from Yolkstar at 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
A special German-American Weekend took place this past weekend to recognize German- American heritage and cultural organizations, and on Dec.11, Christmas Village will celebrate the Army/Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field by hosting special performances.
Right before Christmas, an international weekend is celebrated to highlight Philadelphia’s diversity. Local cultural heritage clubs will perform at the Christmas Village to show their country’s distinct way of life.
Visitors can also purchase raffle tickets at the information booth; Menasch said proceeds support the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the winners will receive tickets to see Toy Story 3 Disney on Ice.
Fischer said she has high hopes of the continuing success of Christmas Village.
“It’s just our third year,” Fischer said. “And I think there’s still a lot of potential to grow, to get bigger in the next years.”
The outdoor holiday market is located at the easily accessible Dilworth Plaza on the west side of City Hall and is open 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily until Christmas Eve. Admission is free.
Lauren Hertzler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.