April 1, 2023

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For the past four days, Kitchener City Hall has opened its doors to the public and presented vendors and entertainers from all over the region to showcase their Christmas spirit in one of Canada’s oldest and largest German Christmas festivals.

For the past 22 years, volunteers have come together to bring German Christmas traditions to the KW area. The festival features one-of-a-kind gifts and handmade crafts, sure to put a smile on the faces of children and adults alike.

Displays such as Fred Aldred’s model trains have become a staple at the event and are a tradition passed down from Aldred’s late father, who started showing off the trains at the festival back in 2007.

“I loved doing this event with my father and seen how much the kids enjoyed it. After my dad passed away, I knew I needed to continue the tradition,” said Aldred.

Visitors check out the model train display at the 2018 Christkindl Market in Kitchener, Ont. Photo by Terry Foster, Spoke News

There were traditional German steam powered toy displays by Helmut Banderob, who has been showing off his collection since the beginning of the festival.

“I do this because of the tradition and because of the memories for older generations like mine who remember getting toys like this for Christmas. It’s always the people over 80 that enjoy my toys the most, but I love doing it for the kids too,” said Banderob.

Other familiar faces who have been residents of the festival since its conception are Paul Schneider and Heidi Potzauf from Radio Herz, Kitchener’s oldest all-German radio station, traditional handmade wooden toymakers Peter Gordon and Marlene and Frank Schilling, and, of course, Hurdy Gurdy Klaus, the German music grinder.

There was also a live blacksmith demonstration by the Ontario Artist Blacksmith Association that drew a large crowd all weekend. Skilled hobbyists created items from raw steel and handed them out to children as they watched in amazement.

Traditional blacksmithing demonstration at the 2018 Christkindl Market in Kitchener, Ont. Photo by Terry Foster, Spoke News

Kitchener youth Shania Nixon graciously played the iconic role of Christkindl for the fourth year in a row and says that she intends to continue for as long as she is asked to perform the part.

Kitchener’s Festival of Lights also drew a crowd just up the road at Victoria Park, where the public could enjoy music and colourful displays and get their photo taken with Santa before enjoying a free horse-drawn carriage ride through the park.

If you missed out on the festivities this year, you can always put it in your calendar for 2019, as the festival is sure to return next winter. In the meantime, here are some highlights from the event.

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