The spirit of the season lights up at Trail’s Waneta Plaza, where volunteers-turned-elfs are transforming the north end of the mall into a Christmas village.
Trail’s Incredible Farmers Market offers the Early Bird Christmas Market this weekend, and The Last Minute Christmas Market the second weekend in December, giving you plenty of opportunities to get your holiday shopping done, even if you’re late to the party.
“Visitors will enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a Christmas Village as they wander through the colorful market tents of over 100 amazing make, bake and grow vendors,” explains Gina Ironmonger, Director of Trail’s Incredible Farmers Market. “This is the biggest and most magical Christmas market in the Kootenays – it’s a sensory experience, and you don’t want to miss it!”
Held at their annual pop-up site in the former Zellers, the assorted vendors galore have plenty of space to set up and deck their tents in the 1.5-acre interior.
“There really is something for everyone and every budget,” adds Ironmonger. “You can literally buy anything you need for the holidays, right down to a tree, a meal, and your holiday clothes.”
In addition to produce and artisanal products, the market promotes a farmers’ corner so shoppers can fill their pantry and stock up on all the ingredients they need for their feast. Gift wrapping can be done on site by the West Kootenay Rebels softball team and Mrs. Claus will roam the aisles handing out treats. The family-friendly event packs a lot of fun for kids, with Balloons by Doreen, Face Painting with Yarnia, craft and art supplies from The Steam Truck, and a fish pond and activities by Beaver Valley Pathfinders and Rangers.
Shoppers are encouraged to linger for lunch or a meal in the corner café, and enjoy the festivities and live entertainment from Mrs. Claus’ Lounge. Afterwards, why not visit the photo booth or book a family photo session with the on-site photographer?
“It’s a one-stop-shop for the Christmas season. Once you’ve had your fill at the market, you’ll find more at the mall,” says Ironmonger, adding that kids can deliver a letter to Santa or visit with their jolly mate, get holiday photos with their pets, and enjoy a variety of items. Live shows.
“I love to see the community come together like this. When people are in the market, enjoying each other or acting like children – with awe in their eyes as they dance to live music – it’s magical,” she says. “I got an adrenaline rush from it! I’m really looking forward to the spirit being high.”
Building on last year’s success, this year’s multi-day event was met with so much demand that there’s a waiting list of 40 vendors, according to Ironmonger.
“I’m passionate about supporting local people and I love seeing people succeed – the market gives them that opportunity,” she says. “In addition to it being a magical time when the community is coming together in a really unique market, I think it’s a really good thing for our economy.”
Most of the vendors are local to the Kootenays, with a couple from as far away as the Okanagan bringing in items the area does not currently supply. Ironmonger points out that their marketing package and army of dedicated volunteers help attract quality vendors because they ensure the professionalism of the event.
“We welcome sellers to our community with a hearty and cheerful ‘Ho Ho Ho’,” says Ironmonger. “This market is a hit and it delivers every time. Vendors know what to expect and are lining up to participate.”
Shoppers are welcome to fill their stockings at The Early Bird & Last Minute Christmas Markets at Waneta Plaza (8100 BC-3B) on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends November 26-27 and 10 – December 11th.