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Warming up in our own winter wonderland

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Any trip to Europe during the festive season yields a yule time tradition like no other: the winter market. And each is as original as the city in which it is found.

In Prague, the markets around Old Town Square sport giant vats of carp, the traditional Czech Christmas dish, while nearby stalls sell tankards of grog and honey liquor.

At Stockholm’s Skansen market traditional straw ornaments and hand-dipped candles are on display alongside delicacies like smoked eel and saffron buns.

In Vienna, the markets sometimes nestle in snowdrifts, and the rugged-up locals nibble on roasted chestnuts and toast the season with heart-warming Glühwein.

And in Paris, a giant Ferris wheel illuminates the city of lights, and wooden chalets, selling crêpes and Eiffel Tower keyrings, line a long stretch of the Champs-Elysées.

Winter markets make the most of the chilly weather and each city’s cultural assets. In Canberra, our own Winter Glass Market will be held from 12pm to 8pm on Saturday 17 June, and will celebrate our unique city and the artists that call it home. And there will be a little nod to nostalgia and European kitsch along the way.

Beverly Growden, general manager at the Canberra Glassworks, says the market was established in 2015 to mark the Kingston Powerhouse’s centenary and brought thousands of people out to learn more about glass making. Since then, it has grown into something of a new institution.

This year, visitors can check out a chandelier exhibition on display in one of the galleries and the finalists for this year’s prestigious Hindmarsh Prize in the Fitter’s Workshop. And they’ll be able to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best-known artists demonstrating techniques with both hot and cold glass.

A silent auction will present work of local and international artists from the United States, Mexico and the Netherlands, and stalls will sell everything from twinkling glass ornaments to large-scale sculptures.

Swedish artist Peter Nilsson, a master engraver and cold worker, will bring the mythical forest creature Huldra to life. This extraordinary piece, funded in part by a crowdsourcing campaign, will be auctioned off with all proceeds supporting the Canberra Glassworks’ future activities.

But the Winter Glass Market is more than a celebration of glass.

“Canberra’s a really special place in winter. It’s one of the few places you can truly experience four seasons in the year. We show off Canberra and what it has to offer in winter too. And we want to boost tourism at this time of year to support local businesses in a fun way,” Growden says.

And what fun will be had!

Kids can craft their own glass gingerbread ornaments, beaded snowflakes, fairy tale lanterns and upcycled snow globes, while adults try their hand at bead making at the Viking Bead Furnace. There will be fairy tales told in the Blackforest Fairy Grotto, polka and Eurovision hits to get your toes tapping, and European treats like Glühwein and Schnapps to be sampled.

Warming winter food will be available for purchase too, with treats including pizza by the slice, tiramisu and Italian doughnuts prepared and served by the Molto Italian team, alongside goulash soup, mini charcuterie boards and sausages on the barbeque, provided by Pialligo Estate. There will be soft drinks available for purchase, and Café 38 will provide premium coffee for those who need to kick-start their day.

“We encourage people to dress up in their winter best for the Winter Glass Market, and this year we’re expecting anything from lederhosen and dirndls to Frozen costumes. The artists are already starting to plan their outfits,” Growden adds.

And as the Kingston Arts Precinct grows, the Winter Glass Markets will only get bigger.

All traditions start somewhere. The winter markets of Europe started with a few stalls selling Christmas trinkets or mugs of spiced mead, and have grown into tourist magnets for cities and money spinners for entire communities.

So, come on Canberra. Let’s make our Winter Glass Market the best place in Australia for frosty festivities.

the essentials

What: The Canberra Glassworks Winter Glass Markets
When: 12pm to 8pm on Saturday 17 June
Where: Canberra Glassworks, next to the Former Kingston Transport Depot, Wentworth Avenue, Kingston

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