The smell of bratwurst grilling filled the cold Saturday morning air as members of the media and curious passersby stopped by a preview event for this year’s Christmas Village in Baltimore.
The village, which returns for the seventh year in a row, transforms the western edge of the Inner Harbor into a festive carnival and holiday market. Its design and appearance evoke the traditional Christmas markets of Germany, whose roots go back to the Middle Ages. Last year’s village attracted an estimated 150,000 or more revelers throughout its near-month-long run, according to Christmas Village in Baltimore spokesperson Kory Aversa.
The European influence comes through in many of the festival’s offerings, which mirror those held in the town squares of Nuremberg, Stuttgart and other German cities every winter. Vendors peddle a mix of foods, beer, crafts, clothes and other goods from inside small wooden huts. A heated tent features a biergarten where patrons can sip Hofbräuhaus beers during breaks from holiday shopping at one of the many surrounding vendors.
The most obvious new addition to this year’s Baltimore village is what Christmas Village in Baltimore spokesperson Jacky Below described as a “pyramid.” Unlike those at Giza or Teotihuacan, this take on a traditional pyramid is a 30-feet-tall wooden structure from Germany with a carousel of supersized Nutcracker dolls on one level, a propeller at the top and other festive ornamentation throughout.
“[The centerpiece hails] from the Ore Mountains of Germany, and it’s creating a whole, new cozy atmosphere,” said Below, who hails from Germany herself. “On the lowest level, we sell our hot beverages like mulled wine or hot chocolate. And we have the largest selection of mulled wine [of any prior Christmas Village in Baltimore] this year."
Attendees lined up there Saturday morning to try the from the six types of mulled wine that vendors sell out of the pyramid’s ground level. Gingy, the festival’s official gingerbread man mascot, posed for photos nearby.
The Christmas Village in Baltimore’s preview weekend continues through Sunday. After then, it opens to the public on Thanksgiving at 11 a.m. It will stay open every day until Christmas Eve. Learn more by visiting baltimore-christmas.com.