the christmas village in baltimore

Thursday, December 19:  I first read of the Christmas Village in Baltimore in the December 8 edition of the Washington Post Travel Section, in “Two villages of good cheer, in Md. and Pa.”  The article followed the headline article about the Christmas markets in Nuremberg, Germany.  Of course the idea of sampling a bit of Europe here in America enticed me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about when I could squeeze in a trip to visit the market in Baltimore, as well as the one in Philadelphia, a city to which I’ve never been despite it being less than 3 hours from northern Virginia.

Baltimore's Inner Harbor
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

According to the Post article by Andrea Sachs, these are a pair of “German-inflected colonies featuring crafts, local and Deutschland foods, toe-warming beverages and decorative lights as bright as a diamond tiara.”

On this Thursday morning, I deposit myself at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor after about an hour and 20 minute drive.  At first sight, all I see is the harbor, the Legg Mason Building and other gleaming skyscrapers, rippling reflections of buildings and boats in the water, and the Maryland Science Center with a big sign for its Mummies of the World exhibition.  Finally, tucked in a little spot off the wide paved walkway, I find the Christmas market.  It seems a small affair, with a smattering of 14 open front timber shops strung with greenery, colored ornaments and white lights, open to the cold air.  Some of the luckier vendors, 29 out of the 43, are inside a heated tent strung with festive white lights.

Inner Harbor and marina
Inner Harbor and marina
walkway around the Inner Harbor
walkway around the Inner Harbor

In the outdoor part of the market, I find vendors offering landscapes on plexiglass; German Gluhwine, hot chocolate and apple cider; works of art and handmade felts, knits, and wovens, as well as bags handmade from recycled jute, hemp and cotton — all from Nepal; glass Christmas ornaments from Egypt; glass jewelry; Russian Christmas ornaments, nested dolls, wooden ornaments, amber jewelry, wooden carved Santas; homemade soap and body butter; and South American woolens.  It’s a truly international market!

Nepalese hats
Nepalese hats
German houses
German houses
German houses
German houses

My first stop is Alpaca Girl, a shop selling alpaca fashion, scarves and soft teddy bears.  A young woman sits wrapped in a woolen poncho, totally engrossed in her cell phone.  She can’t even look up to offer some Christmas cheer, so although I think of buying a warm wool scarf for my mother-in-law, I don’t want to bother with someone so, well, uninterested in a sale.

I ask the vendor at Norden Arts if he’s Nepalese and he tells me, yes, he is.  I say that I was just there in January, in Kathmandu and Pokhara, and he perfunctorily says, yes, it’s beautiful isn’t it?  Then he goes back to the business of selling. It’s strange because I can’t imagine there are many people in America who have actually visited his home country.

It seems to me that vendors these days need to learn the art of small talk.  At both of the above shops, I considered buying something, but was put off by the all-business attitude of the vendors.

the outdoor Christmas market
the outdoor Christmas market
the entrance to the big tent
the entrance to the big tent

I wander inside the big tent where I find numerous other vendors, but the first one that catches my eye, and my nose, is The German Grill, selling bratwurst and sauerkraut.  As it’s just after noon, I order the bratwurst and sauerkraut, and a Hofbräu Original.  It’s not too early for a beer, is it?

bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer
bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer
Yuengling Beer and Hofbräu Original
Yuengling Beer and Hofbräu Original

Wandering around the inner part of the tent, I find Sylca Designs, a booth selling jewelry and woolen ponchos.  The owner says she designs everything herself and she’s friendly and welcoming without pressuring.  I buy a poncho for my mother-in-law and some earrings for myself (from Santa!).  I find another friendly vendor at Nut’n’better, selling roasted almonds, nuts, and sweets, and offering samples to potential customers.  There I buy four packages of cinnamon encrusted almonds.

I wander into the tent’s anchor shop, Kaethe Wohlfahrt, which sells incense smokers, nutcrackers, pyramids, Schwibbogen, music boxes, wooden and glass ornaments.  I snap a picture of a mural of the medieval town of Rothenburg on the back wall.  As I aim my camera at a pretty display of nutcrackers, the sales girl tells me no photos are allowed.  I say, that’s a shame, because I’m writing a blog about the market.

the mural of Rothenburg at Kathe Wohlfahrt
the mural of Rothenburg at Kathe Wohlfahrt

It seems unless you’re a writer for the Washington Post, you have no clout here.  I don’t know why vendors try to prohibit people from taking photos of their goods; they will only benefit with the wide array of social networking used by most everyone these days.  People will inevitably post their pictures on Facebook, Instagram, blogs, Twitter, or PinInterest, giving their business free publicity.  It seems these vendors could use some marketing lessons.

Meanwhile, in another shop nearby, I find a woman from Ukraine who sells pretty Russian and Ukrainian nesting dolls and Santas. She is very friendly, and not pushy at all, and though I don’t buy anything from her, I’m tempted to support her just because of her warmth and good cheer.

Ukranian and Russian figures
Ukranian and Russian figures
mulled wine and egg nog for sale
mulled wine and egg nog for sale

There are lots of gifts to be found here in the Christmas Market in Baltimore, but to be honest, I had more fun just wandering around the Inner Harbor, visiting the National Aquarium and eating a light dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory (stay tuned for more on the Inner Harbor).

By the time I leave the Inner Harbor, it’s dark and I pass by a sprinkling of festive lights.  Walking back through the Christmas market on my way to the parking garage, I find the only Christmas tree I’ve seen in the entire Inner Harbor.

nighttime at the Christmas market
nighttime at the Christmas market
Gifts from Afar
Gifts from Afar
the only Christmas tree I find at the Inner Harbor
the only Christmas tree I find at the Inner Harbor

Europe it’s not, but it is a nice little outing if you’re looking for some gifts from afar.

The Christmas Village in Baltimore is at the Inner Harbor, 501 Light Street.  Check out Christmas Village in Baltimore for details.  Open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Free weekdays; $1-$5 weekends.  Closes December 24.

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25 thoughts on “the christmas village in baltimore

  1. At least you stayed long enough to see it at night, much more appealing with its lights. I also prefer the Inner Harbor. A vendor’s life is not an easy one. So competitive, but the art of conversation helps.

    1. Yes, I’m sure a vendor’s life is a hard one, but it seems they would at least try to make an effort to make small talk, and at least APPEAR friendly. I like the Inner Harbor, though, and the aquarium. I’ll post some pictures soon. 🙂

  2. Sounds quite disappointing really and not many buyers around. It’s been quiet around the markets here too, though the weather may have something to do with it as it has been wet. Some great foodie stalls there yesterday, but hardly any customers! Too many online shopping maybe?
    Jude xx

    1. Yes, Jude, it was pretty disappointing; I think maybe the Philadelphia one is better. I think that one’s been around longer. Also, it might have been slow because it was a weekday. Maybe everyone is shopping online, but it’s possible they are too busy shopping for electronics to spend time on crafts like these. 🙂

  3. Oh dear what a grim bunch of sales people! I do a lot of craft fairs and cant stop myself talking to people whether they’re buying or not, I just love to chat to as wide a mix of people as I can. As for the guy from Nepal, that’s just plain weird!

    1. Isn’t that weird about the guy from Nepal? What I think is that he really wasn’t from Nepal at all, and he wanted to avoid conversation so he wouldn’t be found out. After all, he’s selling his goods as authentically made in Nepal. 🙂

      Or maybe he’s just plain rude.

      1. Yes I am going to go ! Thanks for the nudge ! I did know about it but I forgot. Two years ago I bought some wonderful scarves for gifts and then kept them : )

  4. The Philadelphia Market is great. My family and I go every year. Also, it’s much bigger and there is free admission all the time.

    1. Thanks for commenting about the Philadelphia Market, Jane. I hope to make it, but it will have to be after Christmas because I don’t have time before. It stays open until January 1. I wonder if it will be as good AFTER Christmas! Do you know?

  5. Isn’t it intriguing how some sales people can’t be bothered to be pleasant to the people who are meant to be paying their wages. I wouldn’t feel inclined to buy from someone who was rude either. Did you enjoy the bratwurst? By coincidence I was at a weekly market with my daughter in Brisbane on Saturday morning and guess what I had for breakfast…bratwurst with sauerkraut in a roll! Delish, followed by donut holes and a spiced honey latte!

    1. Wow, great minds think alike, Carol. So funny that you had bratwurst and sauerkraut and a roll not long after I had mine! Sadly, mine wasn’t followed by donut holes and a spiced honey latte! I would have liked that immensely!

      I don’t understand salespeople who can’t be bothered with their customers either. Oh well, those people lost a potential sale! 🙂

      1. It looks like he will enjoy it very much. Tell him it will be very hot and very humid in January. We live about 2 hours drive west of Brisbane, but my younger daughter lives there so we visit every now and then. I’ll be interested to hear what he thinks of our part of Australia.

      2. I’m sure he will love it, Carol. I’m excited for him to have this experience; it’s costing us an arm and a leg, but we consider it part of his education. We got tired of arguing with him; he wants to pursue his dream of working with permaculture. All of our efforts to have him go to university were failing, so we’re going with the flow here. I really hope he finds his way…..

      3. You know, I’m a firm believer in letting your (adult) children follow their passions. There is no point in wasting money on going to uni if he doesn’t want to be there. If he wants to do this badly enough he will definitely find his way.

  6. I never heard of this Christmas Market, wondering whether it’s a recent phenomenon? But then again, I never was drawn much to the Baltimore area…. There were some interesting products, though… wonder what the mulled wein (Gluehwein) was like? Gluehwein was very popular when I grew up, a warm, spiced wine that would warm you up quickly when you came in from the cold.

    1. I think this was the first year for the Baltimore market; the Philadelphia one has been going for a longer time. I hadn’t been drawn to Baltimore before, but it was fun to explore the Inner Harbor. I’ve heard Fells Point is nice too, so I’ll have to go back and explore there too. I bought some of the Gluehwein, but we haven’t tried it yet. I’ll have to let you know how it is.

      Hope your holiday was good. We’re relaxing now in front of the fire. It’s cold outside!!

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