It’s time to bring a German-style Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) to Spokane

weihnachtsmarkt-annaberg
In much of northern Europe, the Weihnachtsmarkt (German for “Christmas Market”) has become not just a tradition, but a cultural institution. Imagine a Christmas Market in Spokane alongside Winter Glow and a revitalized, newly urbanized ice skating rink. (PHOTO: Grenzenloses Erzgebirge)

The launch of the Facebook page of the Spokane Chinese Lantern Festival got me thinking about the different types of cultural events that would fit Spokane in the future. Not long ago, it was difficult to imagine these types of festivals taking place in our city. But with the rise in popularity of Craft Beer Week, Inlander Restaurant Week, Terrain and Bazaar, the Spokane Winter Glow Spectacular, and now the Chinese Lantern Festival, it’s not hard to see bright possibilities for the future. Personally, I think Spokane needs to next develop its winter offerings to include a German-style Christmas Market.

In Germany, even small villages host Weihnachtsmarkten. Vendors sell hand-crafted goods, like ornaments, gifts, and toys. Typically, there’s fresh local food available, like wursts, kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), and other delicacies. Oh, and the glühwein (mulled wine) flows generously. Imagine how a small- to medium-sized Christmas Market could work in Spokane. I could see it taking place near the Rotary Fountain in Riverfront Park, to complement the soon-to-move ice skating rink in the Gondola Meadow and Spokane Winter Glow Spectacular, the large winter lights show. While open container laws would likely put a damper on any plans to allow patrons to roam freely with mulled wine, perhaps a wine garden (weingarten?) could be established. Or maybe a waiver of the open container law could be granted for this specific event, as has occurred in other cities.

Either way, a Christmas Market would be a really cool way for downtown Spokane to continue to distinguish itself during the holiday season. There’s even the possibility of adding a Spokane-esque twist, like curated booths a la Bazaar, or maybe a way to include winter-releases from local craft breweries. With eight months to go, perhaps something could even happen this year. Let’s make it happen.

What are your thoughts? What cultural festivals would you like to see take place in Spokane? Do you think a Christmas Market would be a good addition to downtown Spokane during the holiday season? What other new attractions would you like to see this Christmas?

What could help the Garland District become more vibrant, like South Perry?

Spokane’s Garland District has a second-run movie theater, specialty retail shops and services, iconic buildings like the Milk Bottle, and popular and exciting events like the Garland Block Party. So why does it always play second-fiddle to South Perry?

The South Perry District on Spokane’s South Hill has become a vibrant, exciting neighborhood since the 1990s, with hip restaurants and trendy, eclectic retailers, and further expansion incoming. It’s become a sort of model for other areas of town, a brilliant success story of a district’s revitalization. The Spokesman-Review thinks that the Thursday Market played a big role, and I’m inclined to agree.

But what does that mean for our other major neighborhoods? The Spokesman article and a suggestion from Facebook fan Caleb Ingersoll made me start wondering: what could help the Garland District reach the same level of vibrancy, excitement, and virality? They already have a Street Fair, a Block Party that sounds like something that belongs in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and a second-run movie theatre. They also have the really cool and historic Milk Bottle, a sort of Spokane landmark. On paper, Garland should be blowing South Perry out of the water. But that’s not happening. Garland always seems to play second-fiddle to South Perry.

Why?

I want to know what you think. Post your comments below in our comments section or on Facebook. Is it the lack of a destination Farmers’ Market? Do they need more hip restaurants and retailers? Streetscape improvements? Residential units? Let me know what you think.