Part food-markets and part craft-fairs, the holiday events bring communities together
Swirling snowflakes weave a magical aura as shoppers stroll amid twinkling Christmas lights between quaint wooden shacks offering everything from handmade Austrian Christmas tree ornaments and French nativity scenes to German Christmas cakes and ornate gingerbread houses. Yuletide tunes fill the nippy air with the voices of childrens’ choirs or the tunes of wandering musicians. Christmas markets – usually outdoors – have been a tradition in Germany since the Middle Ages, but these days they are also a growing trend across Québec, often with a distinctly French flair, every late November and December. Part food-market, part craft-fair, they are popping up in suburban parks, public city squares, on rural town streets and in gathering halls across the province.
The historic heart of Montréal is transformed into Christmas Central during the Old Montréal Extravaganza from mid-December to early January. Place Jacques-Cartier becomes an international outdoor Christmas village complete with the sound of hooves on cobblestones as horse-drawn carriages clomp past. On the city’s South Shore, in charming Old Longueuil, a log cabin sugar shack and a kids’ train are at the heart of an old fashioned market complete with traditional Québec dancing and snowshoe-making workshops. Warm up around bonfires sipping hot chocolate.
The aroma of hot mulled wine, bratwurst and hot roasted chestnuts fills the air at Old Québec City’s German Christmas Market in the square outside City Hall where free concerts are held on the weekends.
The entire length of rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste in the picturesque Charlevoix town of Baie-Saint-Paul becomes a pedestrian outdoor Christmas market with stalls offering the region’s famous art and local food products. Kids make Christmas ornaments and learn cookie decorating with the help of elves.
In the New England-like villages of the Eastern Townships there is a flurry of Christmas markets from mid-November through December featuring artisans, church choirs and horse-drawn sleigh rides. A giant decorated Christmas tree adorns Sherbrooke’s historic train-station-turned-Christmas-market, and in the ski town of Sutton parks, churches, a gazebo and a performing hall become focal points for the community’s many food producers and artists including ice sculptors.
Two snowy Laurentian Mountain villages host Marché de Noël, Val-David and the ski Mecca of Mont Tremblant. These indoor markets are all about local gourmet food with 60 producers and chefs showing off and demonstrating Christmas goodies from foie gras and bison to special Yuletide chocolates.
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