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Christmas Market packs holiday spirit, an extra day each week

Tick off that holiday wish list with wares from up to 160 vendors this year from Nov. 27 to Dec. 19.
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The St. Albert Chamber of Commerce's Christmas Market promises wide open aisles for easy shopping, as these two young girls demonstrate. The market kicks off at the Enjoy Centre the weekend of Nov. 27-28, 2021. SUPPLIED/Photo

Christmas is in less than two months, and this year visitors to St. Albert's Christmas Market will have an extra day each weekend to cross gifts off their holiday shopping lists. 

Traditionally, the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce's annual Christmas Market has run only on Saturdays. This year organizers are lengthening the buying season and staying open every Sunday, too. 

Situated at the Enjoy Centre, the market is set to run every weekend from Nov. 27 to Dec. 19. 

“It’s a partnership with the Enjoy Centre. We want to turn this into a test shopping experience. We’ve never tried it before and we’re just testing it out,” said Shelly Nichol, director of operations with the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce. 

In 2020, the Christmas Market attracted an estimated 2,500 visitors per day. Nichol hopes to attract at least that many people this year and possibly more if the added Sundays bring in a different crowd of shoppers. 

“We want to make it a destination shopping experience. The Glasshouse Bistro is here. It’s an opportunity to have a relaxing lunch and go shopping afterward.” 

Market manager Crystal Gossmann noted vendors are excited about the expanded days. 

“They love the option. They’re already set up for Saturday. They just show up on Sunday and do their thing,” Gossmann said. 

This year the market will feature anywhere from 140 to 160 full-time and part-time vendors set up under the main greenhouse’s glass ceiling. This is a slight increase from the 120 vendors who attended in 2020. 

“Last year there was more space between the vendors. We set them up 10 feet apart. This year, health regulations allowed us to keep them six feet apart. This allowed us to bring in more vendors,” said Nichol. 

Decorated with bright poinsettias, lights, and trees, the market is designed to help shoppers polish off their wish lists with everything Christmasy, from holiday decorations and ornaments to chocolate bombs and candies.  

The market will feature an eclectic range of gifts from knitted clothing, baby wear, and pet treats. Artisans are offering crafts such as woodworking, hand-made jewelry, and poured candles. In the food aisle will be Christmas baking, beef jerky, seafood, frozen elk and bison, farm-fresh eggs, and seasonal fruit. To top off the holiday feast, local distilleries, breweries, and wineries are offering their specialties. 

Other culinary marvels include the ethnic food packages styled on Thai, Ethiopian, and Ukrainian cuisine. 

“This year we also have the Philippines. I’m excited about that one,” Nichol said. 

For Nichol, there are many pluses to hosting the market at the Enjoy Centre.  

“It’s a very open, spacious place. It never gets a crowded feeling. And it’s fantastic when it’s snowing outside. You can see it through the greenhouse, and it gives you that Christmas feeling.” 

To incentivize local business transactions, the chamber will also give away one $25 gift card for every market shopping day. The “shop local” initiative can only be used to buy locally at the market or at any business with T8N in its postal code. 

Every Saturday starting Nov. 27, the market runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Sundays it is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Enjoy Centre is located at 101 Riel Drive with free parking. Although the market is considered an essential service, a masking mandate, restricted capacity, and social distancing will be in place.