When does it officially become Christmastime? For Vancouverites, it's actually in late November, when the scents of mulled wine and gingerbread and the sounds of bells and trumpets fill the crisp air. It's a time when the eyes widen at the sight of little wooden huts decked out in twinkling white lights and pine branches, of a sparkling carousel pirouetting in the night. This is the Vancouver Christmas Market.
In founding this beloved wintertime utopia, Malte Kluetz brings a 700-year-old tradition from the streets of his native Hamelin, Germany, to the plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. German Christmas markets are a staple of European holiday seasons, and over the past few years, the Vancouver market has become a similarly un-missable destination for locals.
Here, a forests' worth of light-spangled pine trees and wreaths crowd the plaza, joining 45 wooden huts in which craftspeople and chefs—many from Germany themselves—share their handiwork. Shoppers peruse hand-carved nutcrackers and ornaments, and at any given moment of the day or night, the music of carolers, a string trio, or a jazz band might warm chilly ears.
After a hug from the market's gingerbread mascots, children might go on a scavenger hunt, decorate candles, or head to the old-fashioned Christmas carousel, encrusted with hundreds of amber lights, to show parents just how good they would be at riding a pony if they had their own. When they're done, kids and their parents head off in search of herbed Bavarian bratwursts, pastries, bubbly German wheat beers, and inky, sweetly spiced gluhwein.
Like any good Christmas market, the Vancouver market's festivities are anchored by a massive tree. At its pinnacle sits a glowing star—a beacon signaling the arrival of the holiday season.
Staking a space inside the Doctor Vigari Gallery, framing ace Wendy Berry activates her longtime artist's eye while preserving clients’ mementos in technically sound and visually pleasing styles. When customers bring their special items and works to Wendy, she uses knowledge culled from her master's degree in fine arts and her background as an artist of more than 20 years to creatively build framing solutions for every project she takes on. A seemingly boundless assortment of framing options lines the walls of her framing area, inspiring visitors with styles that can help safeguard or beautifully hang anything from sports memorabilia and diplomas to family photos.
Beyond framing, Wendy's experience and education enable her to execute a number of other services, such as digital printing and creating 3-D shadowboxes. She also performs home consultations to help customers aesthetically sort out decor choices and help them choose the most unassuming portraits for concealing secret safes stocked with smaller secret safes inside.
A family-owned endeavour, Framehouse Boutique's skilled framers understand the importance of carefully preserving family photos, and they pool their more than 20 years of experience to beautify pictorial memories with custom framing services. Masters of artful borders and precise matting, the team's wide-ranging skills allow them to dexterously frame pieces of varying shapes, from jerseys and needlepoint to canvas art and small 3-D objects such as Danny DeVito. In addition to framing, the multitalented crew also performs dry mounting, canvas stretching, and glass replacement. To assure quality craftsmanship and a quick turnaround—usually seven days or less—most of their frame mouldings come from local suppliers.
The staff members at Framagraphic approach every project with the same level of care and attention to detail, whether it's an expensive piece from an esteemed gallery or a treasured crayon doodle from a child. It's been that way since the mid-1970s, when the business custom-sculpted its first frame. Ever since, Framagraphic has continually added on to its list of services, which today includes work with shadow boxes, canvases, and even mirrors. At the shop, galleries of prints and original paintings from local artists immerse visitors in color, and an on-site workshop ensures projects will never have to be outsourced to Santa's elves.
Urban Yarns is a mega house of luxurious yarns, patterns, tools, and more. Peruse the online shop of products and pick out the ideal shade of silky merino wool ($14.95) for crafting a hat, body suit, socks, or iPod case. For those who need a little guidance, kits (most ranging from $15.95 to $274.95) and a variety of patterns (usually $4.95 to $7.95) are available, giving you that extra nudge on your way to needle and knit mastery. A friendly staff will happily help you pick out the best yarn type for your project and explain the nuances of each spun thread.