GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It’s normal for the holiday season to leave its mark on City Park. A tall white fir tree is lit up with Christmas lights every year once December rounds the corner, and a mailbox at City Hall invites letters to Santa Claus. But this year, there’s something even bigger rolling into town.
The city announced over the weekend that Christkindlmarkt is coming to town on Dec. 3-5. The European-style Christmas festival is moving to Glens Falls, after first calling the village of Lake George home in 2018 and 2019.
Moving from scenic village to hometown city means trading in the open oval of Charles R. Wood Festival Commons for City Park, a downtown center with a lot more close neighbors. But what won’t change is the spirit of celebration that comes with bringing the festival back after COVID-19.
“This was a natural fit,” said Glens Falls Tourism and Business Development Director Amy Collins on Monday. “We figured that there was an investment in the event.”
Christkindlmarkt brings live music, visits from Santa Claus, food, drink, and as many as 40 vendors to the park outside Crandall Library and around the park gazebo – all under heated tents. Festival organizer Nancy Turner said this year’s festival will be a bit less German than it was in 2018 or 2019; she was unable to get Glühwein, a traditional festival drink, from either of the local breweries that have provided it in the past.
Luckily, one benefit of holding the festival in Glens Falls is its proximity to the city’s restaurants. At least 10 chefs and managers at work around town are getting in on the festivities, hand-preparing special German food and drink that allows the festival to extend, in spirit, well beyond the park.
“I’d definitely encourage anyone coming to the festival to give them your business as well,” Turner said.
A walk down Glen Street on Monday signifies that the new festival on the roster isn’t canceling out anything else from Glens Falls’ holiday schedule. Santa Claus will parade through town on Sunday, Nov. 28; the annual Christmas tree lighting will end the first day of festivities on Friday, Dec. 3; and crews in Glens Falls were already stringing trees up with lights on Monday.
City employee Tyrone Bapp said that he and another staff member would be lighting up every tree along the sidewalk up Glen Street, from the traffic circle to City Park, and then go around the park itself and do the same there. He pulled lights from a giant spool as he spoke. His counterpart was stringing lights from the treetop down, in a cherry picker high over the sidewalk. The lights will go live starting Dec. 3, when the city tree lighting takes place.
And just like Glens Falls, the village of Lake George is getting ready for the holidays in its own ways – even if Christkindlmarkt won’t be a part of it. Last month, the village announced that winter entertainment company Ice Castles would be building an over 25-million-pound ice castle attraction at Charles R. Wood Park. The castle is set to open in January, meaning the park will be in use for plenty of time before then.
Lake George first contacted Glens Falls about the potential festival handoff over the summer. The city hasn’t had to move its other events around; Collins says they fit right in.
“The whole community is really just coming in for one big group hug,” she said.
In addition to city events, the Queensbury Hotel is hosting a holiday festival of trees the weekend of Nov. 26-28. The Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council, at the edge of the park, is hosting a holiday party on Dec. 16.
Turner is excited to get the festival going. Walking through City Park on Monday, she pointed out where different tents are going. Many of the vendors will be in the area in front of Crandall Library, facing Glen, Bay and Maple streets. It’s Turner’s first year with the festival, after many previous years running the city’s tree lighting ceremony and other celebrations. And this is a long time coming.
“Back when (Christkindlmarkt) was first proposed, I was saying, ‘Why not do it in Glens Falls?” She said. “But back then, it just didn’t work out for some reason or another.”
Turner says this year’s festival will be smaller in comparison to what it was building up to be in those first two years before the pandemic, but that it’ll all be worth it; as both holiday fun to close out a challenging year, and as a test run to what more planning and preparation can bring in 2022.
Collins said she hopes Christkindlmarkt draws visitors not just from around Glens Falls and Queensbury, but from as far north as North Creek, and beyond in all directions. In an ideal world, she’d like to make it easier for people to get from one place to the other, no matter which one is the destination.
“I’d love to have a shuttle bus (between Glens Falls and North Creek),” she said. “That’s my goal. For a day-trip, it would be great to have that option.”
Christkindlmarkt runs Friday, Dec. 3, 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.