If there was ever a holiday season to shop local and meaningful, this is it. And Loudoun businesses and nonprofits are offering more opportunities than ever to do that, with a raft of upcoming Christmas markets from the traditional to the alternative.Over the next few weeks, Loudouners can get out and get festive while finding unique gifts from local artisans or donating to charities while sipping spiced wine, beer or cocktails and listening to live music.
One of Loudoun’s most beloved holiday markets, Lovettsville Christkindlmarkt, celebrates its 12th anniversary this year. David and Veronika Bennett launched the market in 2008 as a tribute to their town’s German heritage and a complement to Lovettsville’s famed Oktoberfest, inspired by the traditional Christmas markets of Germany and other Alpine countries. And while bringing in unique vendors is a big part of the appeal, David Bennett said it’s also a chance to eat and drink with neighbors.
“It is always a community event in Europe,” Bennett said. “It’s not all about shopping, although that’s part of it and we have some amazing vendors some of whom have been with us since the beginning.”
This year’s Christkindlmarkt is held Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8 at the Lovettsville Game Club. It’s a festive weekend of traditional German food, music, beer, spiced gluhwein and lots of traditional treats from the Falls Church-based German Gourmet. The musical lineup is always a big draw, and Austrian-born accordionist Silvia Eberly, who lives in Arlington, is a crowd favorite. Hammered dulcimer player Jody Marshall from McLean will also perform, along with husband and wife duo Karen Ashbrook Paul Oorts on dulcimer and viola da gamba.
Highlights of the event include visits and photo ops with a traditional Saint Nicholas (think Third Century bishop, not Santa Claus), the German Christkind angel and, of course, Krampus, the horned goat-like figure who deals with the naughty kids in German tradition and serves as a constant foil and companion for Saint Nicholas.
“We try to minimize the scariness, but it’s really tradition,” Bennett said. “In the south of Germany and the Alpine countries, you can’t have one without the other.”
All over Loudoun, wineries and breweries are also getting into the Christmas market act. At the Wine Reserve at Waterford, owners Cori and Jon Phillips were also inspired by European Christmas markets they fell in love with while studying in Europe. The couple launches their first Makers and Purveyors Market at the winery Saturday, Dec. 7.
“We really wanted to make it festive,” Cori Phillips said. “We want to create that wonderful experience—it’s like our local adaptation of a European market”
Phillips carefully curated a gathering of cool vendors using her own connections on the Etsy platform along with local contacts. The market will feature vintage and handmade housewares from Roost Design Co., unique baby items (including seasonal bibs) from Kookabella Baby, jewelry from Noonday Collection and other local and regional favorite artisans.
But for Phillips, it’s also about bringing neighbors and visitors together.
“It’s more than the shopping although the shopping is great,” Phillips said. “What’s always stuck with us from the [European] experience is the feeling of having holiday music, a cozy fire, the lights, the merriment of it all.”
The Wine Reserve will offer spiced wine, beer from their neighbors at Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery, food for sale from Borinquen Lunch Box and live Christmas music from Anthony Semiao.
Local breweries are also hosting events in the lead up to Christmas: Old 690, Old Ox and Vanish all have holiday markets planned. And Round Hill’s B Chord Brewing is partnering with the nearby Snickers Gap Tree Farm for a perfect post-Thanksgiving outing. B Chord hosts its Christmas market Saturday, Nov. 30, and if you buy a tree from Snickers Gap, you’ll geta 10 percent discount in the tasting room. Visitors can shop for gifts and enjoy fire pits, marshmallow roasting, hot cider and a new food menu.
For details on The Wine Reserve at Waterford’s Makers and Purveyors Market, go to waterfordwinereserve.com
For information on Lovettsville Christkindlmarkt, go to lovettsvillegameclub.com.