A bit of Old World charm coming to St. Paul for the holidays

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Traditions have to start somewhere, and organizers of a new German-style Christmas festival in the Twin Cities hope that place will be St. Paul.

Set for Thanksgiving weekend, the European Christmas Market will be located downtown along W. 7th Place, next door to the Park Square Theatre and Great Waters Brewing Co., according to the event's website.

Modeled after the open-air Christkindmarkt found in Germany and Austria and similar to other markets around Europe, organizers say the event will feature decorative wooden booths for local artists and vendors, food and crafts that reflect not only cultural traditions from around the world but also those of Minnesota.

Organizer Renate Sharp, who immigrated from Germany to the U.S. in 1957, told the Pioneer Press such markets are a mainstay in town squares throughout western Europe every winter.

"We think this will be a positive step to bring people to downtown St. Paul," she told the paper. "And it offers local artists and artisans a venue to sell their crafts."

And craft beer. The aforementioned Great Waters Brewing Co. will be on hand selling not only signature brews but also classic European foods, like kielbasa, bratwurst, goulash and apple strudel.

Sharp, who sits on the board of directors of the European Christmas Market, said the event has been in the works for three years. As the Pioneer Press reports, Sharp and other organizers hope it will become an annual St. Paul tradition.

The event runs from November 28th through the 30th.

Cross-River Competition?

If you live in Minneapolis and the trip across the river to see the European Christmas Market seems a little too far, your city has its own German-inspired Christmas festival kicking off that same weekend.

A spiritual successor to the now-defunct Holidazzle Parade, the Holidazzle Village Featuring the Minneapolis Holiday Market, as it is called, offers both a Christmas "village" featuring choirs, bands and kid-targeted entertainment as well as an open-air market similar to St. Paul's new event.

Unlike its cross-river counterpart, however, the festivities in Minneapolis will run until Christmas Eve.

The similarity of the two events, as well as the fact that they're opening the same day, may seem striking, but European Christmas Market organizer Renate Sharp tells the Pioneer Press it's just a coincidence.

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