Metro-East News

Not a fan of Black Friday? There are lots of alternatives.

Belleville’s Christkindlmarket opens Friday

This 2017 video explains some of the features of the Christkindlmarket. The market opens this year on Friday, Nov. 23.
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This 2017 video explains some of the features of the Christkindlmarket. The market opens this year on Friday, Nov. 23.

You’re not interested in fighting crowds at shopping malls or box stores, and you certainly don’t want to get up at 4 a.m. and stand in line on Black Friday. But you like the idea of picking up a few Christmas gifts and getting into the holiday spirit.

You’re in luck.

Low-key shopping alternatives are being offered in Belleville and Caseyville. Metro-east organizations are hosting parades and special events, and most museums and holiday light displays are open in the St. Louis region.

Here are some ideas:


The fourth-annual Belleville Christkindlmarkt will kick off at 10 a.m. and run until 9 p.m. Friday on the Belleville Square. It will continue through Dec. 23.

At any one time, more than 20 vendors will sell their wares from wooden chalets, with a total of 35 local and international vendors.

Items range from Ukrainian hand-carved wooden Santas to German lace, Egyptian mouth-blown glass ornaments to wool hats and scarves from Nepal.

“All of the items are either handcrafted in the country of origin or handcrafted by local artists,” said Executive Director Carole Piontkowsky.

On Friday, the classic-rock band Head East will headline a free outdoor concert from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Local bands will perform other Friday nights in a heated tent.

There will be wood-carving demonstrations, a visit by live reindeer once a week and a giant sand sculpture of a Glockenspiel Clock.

“It will be lit up at night, so people can take pictures in front of it,” Piontkowsky said.

Chriskindlmarkt hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.belleville or the Facebook page.

Art and craft show

The 37th annual Belleville Art and Craft Fall Fair will be open from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and continue from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Belle-Clair Exposition Center.

People can find gifts that they won’t find anyplace else. And they’re reasonably priced because (vendors) don’t have overhead like the stores do.

Kay Weber on the Belleville Art and Craft Fall Fair

More than 400 vendors will sell everything from jewelry to Christmas decorations, household items to tole paintings, clothing to salsa, honey, kettle corn and fudge.

“We have items from 25 cents to $3,000,” said promoter Kay Weber. “They’re all unique, handcrafted items.”

Admission is $4 Friday and $2 Saturday and Sunday. Belle-Clair is at 200 S. Belt East in Belleville, near Illinois 15 and 159. Parking is free. Baby strollers are prohibited.

Vendors are coming from half a dozen states. One of the most unusual is a man who paints scenes on large feathers and frames them.

“People can find gifts that they won’t find anyplace else,” Weber said. “And they’re reasonably priced because (vendors) don’t have overhead like the stores do.”

For more information, call 618-233-0940 or visit or the Facebook page.

‘Real’ black Friday

A new event called The Real Black Friday will showcase the products of black-owned businesses and black artists from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at Crossroads Multipurpose Center in Caseyville.

The overall goal is to bring awareness to all of the black businesses in our area that aren’t being supported. But we’re also giving an alternative to shopping at the chain stores.

Tawanda Story on The Real Black Friday

More than 35 vendors will sell boutique clothing, shoes and jewelry; handmade Christmas wreaths and ornaments; body creams and soaps; baked goods and desserts; and books by local authors.

“The overall goal is to bring awareness to all of the black businesses in our area that aren’t being supported,” said organizer Tawanda Story. “But we’re also giving an alternative to shopping at the chain stores, not just on Black Friday but all through the year.”

Entertainment will include dancing by the Katherine Dunham Center Workshop. Admission is free.

Crossroads, owned by the Church of the Living God in Fairview Heights, is at 8601 California Drive in Caseyville, near Illinois 157 and St. Clair Avenue. For more information, call Story at 618-606-0225.

Christmas parades

The Optimist Club of Belleville’s annual Santa Parade will hit the streets at 10 a.m. Friday. A tradition since 1952, it’s the largest parade in Southern Illinois, according to a press release.

The parade begins at 17th and West Main and goes east on West and East Main streets, ending at Forest Avenue, near Union United Methodist Church. For more information, visit

The second-annual Millstadt Lighted Parade will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, after the 6:45 p.m. lighting of the town Christmas tree in Frontier Park. It will go west on Washington Street to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall.

After the parade, family activities will include a visit from Santa, face painting, balloon art, crafts, chili, hot dogs, hot chocolate and other beverages until 10 p.m. For more information, contact Patti French at or 618-660-5790.

Highland’s annual Lighted Christmas Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Lindenthal and Poplar and go west on Lindenthal and north on Washington, ending on the downtown square. This year’s theme is “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

After the parade, Highland Chamber of Commerce will hold its Winter Wonderland festival with carolers, carriage rides, refreshments and a visit from Santa. For more information, visit or call 618-654-3721.

Light displays

Several big light displays will be open Friday, including the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Way of Lights in Belleville, St. Louis Zoo’s Wild Lights, Anheuser-Busch’s Brewery Lights in St. Louis, Rock Springs Park’s Christmas Wonderland in Alton and Lebanon’s Winter Wonderland.

Some displays include musical entertainment, arts and crafts, campfires, rides, food, shopping and other activities. As usual, Missouri Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow is combined with its Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train Show.

All of these displays continue through the holiday season.

Lincoln museum

If you feel like a road trip to Springfield, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is hosting the third-annual Fun Frosty Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.

Free activities will include a scavenger hunt, barrel-train ride, blacksmithing and Lego demonstrations, a life-size Candyland game, face-painting, balloon art, a magic show, arts and crafts, a hot-cocoa bar and more.

Children who participate will get free museum admission. For more information, call 217-558-8844 or visit

Other openings

Also open Friday are the St. Louis Science Center, Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, The Magic House St. Louis Children’s Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, City Museum, Missouri History Museum, Lewis and Clark State Historic Site, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Gateway Arch, Winterfest at the Arch, Granite City Ice Rink and Steinburg Ice Rink.

Teri Maddox: 618-239-2473, @BNDwriter