With the holiday season fast approaching, the inaugural European Christmas Village Market at the Bearspaw Lifestyle Centre is hoping to be the premier Christmas shopping and family experience for Cochrane and west Rocky View County residents this month.
The market runs Dec. 2 to 4, and will return Dec. 9 to 11. Tickets cost $5 per individual or $10 per family, and can be purchased at the door or online ahead of time for $1.32 extra to include express access to the market.
The market runs 2 to 8 p.m. on Fridays, 12 to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
The family-friendly event hopes to encapsulate the European holiday season experience through providing an outdoor market with over 80 vendors selling handmade stocking stuffers alongside traditional European-themed food and drink.
The market will also include a variety of entertainment, including live performances on the Calgary Stampede Stage, horse-drawn hay and sleigh rides every day until 4 p.m., firework presentations at 5 p.m. on opening day and each Saturday, an ice-skating rink, and a sleigh-bound visit from Santa Claus on Sunday at 1 p.m.
It will also feature a children’s tree village with 38 trees decorated by students from local elementary schools and daycares that will be sold in a silent auction to support three local charities. Any surplus proceeds from the event will be used to support children and youth programs in the Bearspaw Lifestyle Centre.
Bearspaw Lifestyle Centre board member and the person overseeing the European Christmas Village Market, Roc Spence, said the event was inspired by how lively the downtown centres of European villages become during the holiday season. He hopes to bring the same atmosphere to the people of Bearspaw.
“Our intention is to run this annually and make it the premier event in the northwest part of Calgary and the surrounding area,” Spence said.
With so many elements involved in the set-up of the event, Spence said the work by volunteers has been amazing as they scramble to get everything together in time for the opening market.
“We had 420 volunteer slots that we needed to fill over the weekend,” Spence said. “And we had amazing support from Cochrane High School, other high schools, local community member service clubs, and [the 4H club] has come to give us a hand.”
As the opening weekend of the market approaches, Spence said organizers eagerly anticipate the opening of the winter wonderland, and he is grateful to be part of the experience.
“I am so proud of the work of the staff, volunteers, and people associated to deliver the Christmas market,” Spence said. “It’s a huge undertaking, and we have great support from the broad community, 25 unique sponsors, and ultimately everyone coming to help us get into the Christmas spirit.”
As the aim of the centre is to be the social heart of the acreage community, Spence said events like the European Christmas Village Market help bring people together, and will offer something for everyone to enjoy during the holidays.
“We think themes and programs like this help bring community together, to reach your neighbour, celebrate community, and enjoy each other’s company,” Spence said.
Spence invites anyone who is interested in volunteering or purchasing tickets for the European Christmas Village Market to visit bearspawlc.org.