2011 Holiday Light Up on Churchill Square

The annual Holiday Light Up on Churchill Square is something I don’t like to miss, even if the weather is less than conducive for an outdoor event! Mack and I braved the cold to partake in this annual tradition.



Earlier in the afternoon though, I trekked down to the Square to pick up some groceries from the City Market. As with the previous two Saturdays, to help tie the Market into the day’s festivities, a third of the vendors were set-up in a tent on Churchill Square.


City Market outdoors

Though I thought this location was a boon to the vendors last year, it was a much different picture then, as it was easily about twenty degrees warmer than it was today. One of the two heaters stopped working an hour in this morning, something that didn’t bode well for those positioned in that half of the tent. Over in City Hall, however, it was very pleasant, with musicians livening up the atmosphere. Many shoppers were asking about which vendors were in the Square, but didn’t seem willing to step outside to explore them firsthand. I wonder if some clear signage with a map of vendors would have been an incentive to do so? Or, because of the weather, simply have allowed all of the vendors to remain inside the Hall?

Later that evening, Mack met up with me and we sipped hot coffee in anticipation of the light-up and fireworks. Closer to 5pm, the crowd swelled to a few hundred – it’s always heartening to see Edmontonians embracing outdoor activities.


Stilt walkers wandered into the crowd

After a few Christmas songs to warm up the crowd, Eskimo cheerleaders and Councillor Jane Batty welcomed Santa Claus himself up on stage (it was pretty amusing when Councillor Batty expressed to Santa that “one or two Councillors” will be receiving coal this Christmas).


On a break from the North Pole

I was a bit disappointed that the organizers opted not to use the giant light switch that they have in the past, but counting down to the light-up itself was still a great time. The 71 foot white spruce, weighing 8000 pounds, had been donated by Millar Western. Decorations included 14,000 LED lights, sparklers and snowglobes, about 4,000 more than last year.

Christmas Tree


I look forward to the fireworks spectacle every year, primarily because it is the only show in our city that is timed to music. I wonder if it was the cold that impacted the execution of the fireworks this year, because something delayed them this time around, which meant that they didn’t end up accompanying the music. We still enjoyed them though – fireworks are always a great way to kick off the holiday season!



The tree will be around to view until early January. Make sure to check it out when you have a chance!

Winter Market on the Square and Holiday Light Up 2010

The first of the winter markets launched this past Saturday, in both heated tents right on Churchill Square and in the grand City Room in City Hall.

Winter Market

Tents on the Square

Just under fifty vendors participated, ranging from stalwart City Market merchants like Kuhlmann’s, to newcomers like Jacek Chocolate Couture. Smoky Valley Goat Cheese was a particularly welcome sight, as we had hinged some of our housewarming dishes on our ability to purchase their chevre and St. Maure cheese (they had a beautiful sampling platter out to entice the palate).

Winter Market

Inside City Hall

The outdoor food trucks were out as well. We made sure to stop by Eva Sweet for a waffle. Bamir is looking forward to the Hot to Huddle Grey Cup Festival November 25-28 – his truck will be parked at Churchill as a part of the festivities.

Nothing makes a better lunch (of course, I didn’t remember to snap a picture until halfway through)

After a walkthrough of both vendor areas, I thought those placed inside were at an advantage, with ample space to set up, and abundant natural light. When we returned to Churchill later that evening for the Holiday Light-Up however, it was clear that the vendors in the three tents had much better visibility, located right in the thick of things outside.

Holiday Light Up

The crowds have descended

Though I’m a fan of outdoor markets, it really is a challenge to make it work over the winter months – the individual, cloistered tents removes that larger sense of community somehow. At the same time – our climate makes it impossible for uncovered markets – one of tents was without heat for a while, and it was noticeably chilly – I couldn’t imagine remaining stationary as a vendor. I suppose we’ll just have to hope for a larger year-round space to open up soon!

Winter Market

Inside one of the tents

The weather was definitely milder than last year, and we very much liked the change in stage placement, so photos taken of the action would have the brilliant City Hall pyramid as a backdrop.

Holiday Light Up

Can you spot Santa?

To recognize the fact that the city is hosting the Grey Cup this year, the 700 foot white spruce is decked out in green and gold colours, and two Eskimos were on hand with the Mayor as he flipped the lighting switch.

Holiday Light Up

Beautiful tree

The fireworks show following the lighting was entertaining, set to music as always. I ask again – why can’t all fireworks displays make the best of the music played alongside?

Holiday Light Up


The tree will be lit every night until mid-January. There are three more winter markets planned – December 4, 11 and 18, scheduled tentatively for 11am-3pm. Check out the City Market page on Facebook to keep up-to-date. Looking forward to it!