Organizers of the Belleville Christkindlmarkt want to kick up the “downtown Christmas atmosphere” by increasing the number of vendors and opening an entertainment tent, where you can hear live music and step out of the chilly weather.
For the second annual Christkindlmarkt, visitors will see 22 huts where you can buy goods from Belleville, other states and Germany, Ireland, Nepal and Russia. Last year, the open-air market had 13 vendors.
Belleville’s market is modeled after outdoor Christmas markets in German cities.
For anybody that’s been in Germany at a Christmas market, this will be reflective of really just about any of the smaller markets that you see there.
Carole Piontkowsky, director of the Belleville Christkindlmarkt
“For anybody that’s been in Germany at a Christmas market, this will be reflective of really just about any of the smaller markets that you see there,” said Carole Piontkowsky, who is director of the Christkindlmarkt.
Along with checking out the nine new huts, visitors will be able to see bands and enjoy children’s activities on weekends at the entertainment tent.
City employees on Thursday delivered the wooden huts to the Public Square.
“It’s exciting because we didn’t know what to expect the first year,” Mayor Mark Eckert said. “But the first year … we believe was very well received. Downtown had a lot of visitors from all over. The merchants did well.
“It did exactly what we had hoped it would do,” he said. “It added to our downtown Christmas atmosphere, and it added to our overall business.”
All of the booths will be on the east side of the Public Square. “When you go to Germany, you’re all shoulder to shoulder and you’re walking up and down” the aisles, said Piontkowsky, who lived in Germany for seven years when her husband was stationed there with the U.S. Air Force.
Christy Vineyard, co-owner of Local Lucy’s at 18 E. Main St., said she looks forward to the Christkindlmarkt because there was a “very noticeable” bump in business when the market was open last year.
“We have a lot more people in the shop” during the Christkindlmarkt, Vineyard said. Local Lucy’s features products from more than 80 local artisan vendors.
Eckert and Piontkowsky praised the volunteers who have helped the market.
“We’ve had great volunteers from businesses,” Eckert said. “It’s been tremendous.”
Mark Hinrichs, president of Fairview Heights-based IMPACT Strategies, said his employees have donated over 250 man-hours since August to help construct and paint the nine new huts. He called the Christkindlmarkt a “unique and fun community event.”
Others who helped build the new huts include members of the local carpenters union and electricians from Glaenzer Electric and Jarvis Electric.
Six area nonprofit groups will earn proceeds from one of the booths staffed by the groups. These groups are: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4183, Masterworks Chorale, St. Vincent DePaul, Belleville Optimist Club, Family Hospice of Belleville and Hope Animal Rescues.
Want to go?
- What: Second annual Belleville Christkindlmarkt from Nov. 27 to Dec. 23
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday
- Opening day: On Nov. 27, the market will open at 8 a.m. and the official proclamation will be read about 12:30 p.m.
- Where: Belleville’s Public Square
- Cost: Free admission.
- Details: Call 618-233-6769 or go to www.bellevillechristkindlmarkt.com or on Facebook at Belleville Illinois Christkindlmarkt