Downtown & Waterfront Bellefonte , Pennsylvania 16823
Years ago, I rolled out of a hotel room into the lobby and then spilt myself onto some frigid December street in Hamburg, Germany. I was there with my band, in the middle of a long tour of Europe that would eventually see me and my brother catching the last possible jet out of London Heathrow, barely making it home in time for Christmas. We made it though. And it was magic.
But the magic started way earlier than that, you see, because on that cold night in Germany, on one of those very rare evenings when we didn't have a gig to travel for and play, I wandered aimlessly down the road by the hotel looking for something to eat. Five minutes later, I turned a corner by a towering Gothic cathedral (or maybe it was someone's Gothic mansion/ I have no idea) and walked right smack into the middle of one of the greatest holiday moments I will ever live through.
Der Historische Weihnachtsmarkt auf dem Rathausmarkt.
Say that again. Go ahead, I dare you.
Don't worry, I can't really say it all that clearly either. But it doesn't matter. What I wandered into, you see, was one of the very wonderful and charming Christmas Markets that are legendary in Germany. It was, without question, a place that anyone who has ever had even a smidge of love for the Christmas season would lose their fruitcaked mind. Trust me.
I speak practically no German. A few words. Enough to order a beer, maybe a meatball from a gas station vending machine. Again: it didn't matter. I could see with my eyes. Smell with my nose. Point with my finger at this cheese and that mulled wine and this wooden elf and whatever the heck else I probably spent 100 euros on in like an hour. But it was so much more than that and anyone who has ever experienced a Christkindlesmarkt will stand by my words here. The lights, the music, the people, the atmosphere.
It started snowing while I was there! I'm not lying.
Which, look, that was long ago and who cares right? The only reason I'm getting all worked up about my big fat German Christmas fetish right now is because word on the street is that the folks at Downtown Bellefonte, Inc (DBI) are thrilled to be offering all of us a seriously close dose of this kind of festive shopping experience this Saturday! That's right, the same group that brought us the completely sold-out Under The Lights Dinner on the Waterfront back in September is back again. And this time they're bringing out a whole slew of local artisans and craftspeople and chefs and good stuff to drink all in the spirit of the season.
And you know what's really super cool about all this? It is happening for just a few hours this Saturday, December 8th, from 3-9pm. That makes it a perfect little companion to the weekend's esteemed Victorian Christmas celebration happening all over town. That event, brought to you by Historic Bellefonte, Inc., promises so much to do and see from this Friday right through Sunday evening. Downtown will be bustling just like it did back when the real Victorians ruled the roost around here.
So what better way to include one of the town's most beautiful attractions in all of that action than with an outdoor market teeming with lovely gifts and snacks, right?
I know what you're thinking. Under the lights? Under the STREET LIGHTS, you mean? Heck no! The DBI people are masters of of this outdoor lighting thing, let me tell you. That evening of the dinner in the park was stunning. They used cafe lights or fairy lights or I don't even know what the heck you call them! I just know it was amazing. And that same lighting set-up is back for this very special holiday market too.
Now, as a tried and true veteran of the German Christmas markets, I am naturally curious about all of this, you know? So I reached out to Ellen Matis, one of the visionaries in the DBI crew, to tell me what's happening over by the Lamb Street Bridge come Saturday.
"Bellefonte Under the Lights: Winter Market, was an idea born by event chairwoman Dana Donofrio, who was inspired by other winter markets like the Mifflinburg Christkindl Market, that ties in themes from the Under the Lights dinner -- like the lights that will be hung over the waterfront," Matis explains.
"The market will have a ton of unique vendors, so in addition to being able to hit up all of our downtown businesses on Saturday, you might be able to cross a few extra gifts off your list as well during the market. Plus, Big Spring Spirits, Bella Vino Wine Bar, University Wine Company and Race Street Brewing will be at the event serving their craft beverages, just like the Under the Lights dinner, you can grab a beverage and hang out with your friends and family "under the lights."
I'm not even gonna lie here. My Christmas Bones are shaking at the idea of all this. Call me goofy, I don't care. People like me, 'Christmas People', they know what I'm talking about!
"Since the event is being held alongside Bellefonte's extremely popular Victorian Christmas event, we anticipate that it will be well-attended. Our hope is that visitors to Bellefonte will experience all that Victorian Christmas has to offer -- from its arts and crafts market to the horse-drawn carriage rides -- before coming down to visit the Winter Market on the waterfront. Victorian Christmas kicks off on Friday evening, and continues through Saturday evening."
If you ask me, the addition of an outdoor holiday market under the lights during a weekend when Bellefonte is alive in all of her Victorian Holiday splendor, it's just a match made in Christmas Lovers Heaven.
"I think this kind of market is something that people that live and visit Bellefonte are really craving, and it will really supplement Victorian Christmas," she says.
In other words: there will be something for everyone to smile about down by Spring Creek this Saturday afternoon and evening. Not to mention hot chocolate and mulled wine and spirits to warm your Ghost of Christmas Present.
So why not add to your Victorian Christmas memories with a short walk down to this market. It's bound to be a welcome new addition to Bellefonte's holiday season.
And you're bound to close your eyes, take a swig of mulled wine, breath in that frosty evening air, and imagine yourself in the middle of some German square somewhere, soaking it all in.
Then, when you run into me down the road, we'll just smile...two Christmas Kooks with that same tinsely twinkle in their eye.
Bellefonte Under the Lights: Winter Market
Bellefonte Waterfront, Lamb & Water Streets
Saturday, Dec. 8th. 3-9pm.
VENDORS: The Great Mish Mosh, MoniLeesA, Luciano Sormani Design, Bethany’s Cozy Crochet Creations, Kraft & Karry, Bone Bar and Boutique, Sara(h) Squared Crafts, High Street Tattoo, Acres of Joy, Lumber Works 4 You, Wildflower Enterprises, Mount NitaNee Kombucha, Bella Vino Wine Bar, Big Spring Spirits, Race Street Brewing, University Wine Co., Brazilian Munchies, Happy Dishes, State Burger Co., Rosie's Pierogies
Modern people connecting with their ancestral past is both inspiring and beneficial.
What future do you envision for your community, for this town, for Bellefonte, Pennsylvania?
An art exhibit that never closes, never goes dark, and never turns it's proverbial back on even the loneliest midnight stroller.
Learn more and sign up for their 5 for $25 Bellefonte Sampler—on sale now through Dec 23.
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Buy some cool old stories for the people you love this year. Give them a piece of the past and watch them light up.
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