November 19th, 2014 | Uncategorized
After a great day coaching the U14 Tigers this Saturday, Khalid and I decided to get dropped off in town and enjoy the Christmas Market we’d heard so much about. Ryan and Caroline took the train in to meet us there and I have to say, it is worth the hype! I’d been hearing about the market for awhile leading up to the winter months, and I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly. City Hall is already a site to see, as the architecture is so gorgeous and it is always lit up in all the colors of the rainbow at night. The Christmas Market is actually wrapped around City Hall so that while you’re walking through it you can look up and see the beautiful building on one side with a huge “Happy Christmas” sign hung up.
Before we reached the actual site however, we could hear the celebration from blocks away. There was live music and a jumbo screen, as well as dancers and people giving out free stuff everywhere. Khalid and I arrived almost exactly at 6pm when it opened, and we didn’t have to wait in line at all. There were all kinds of shops inside, many selling different foods and candy, as well as apparel, toys, jewellery, and traditional Irish keepsakes/collectibles. People seemed to be having the best time sampling all of the different beers and mulled wines, and there were even a few beer halls within the market, glowing with Christmas lights from the inside out.
It was obvious that the event staff expected a large turnout for the first night, so they were very disciplined when it came to the entrance and exit. You could only get in one way and get out another way. I’d forgotten to stop at the ATM before entering but really wanted to purchase some Irish stew from one of the vendors. I left through the exit and got some cash out, only to return to the entrance and find a line that went around the corner, wrapping around the other side of City Hall. It couldn’t have been past 7pm at that point, only an hour into the market being open and I would have had to wait at least an hour to get back in! The great thing about opening night, however, is that the whole city was buzzing and there was plenty to do around the market as well. I went to a nearby café and waited for the rest of my roommates to finish up in the Market, and we went to a friend’s house in town to hangout.
I honestly can’t wait to get back to the Market. I already love being in city centre for obvious reasons. I can’t get over the fact that I can be standing in Victoria’s Square, some would say the busiest part of the city, and still be able to look up and see a beautiful green mountain side. You don’t really get that in Philly. The Christmas Market brings a whole new beauty into the atmosphere though, and it reminds me of what a friend told me about Belfast. She had studied abroad here a few years ago, and she was one of the first to tell me about the Christmas Market. She said the culture here is a lot different when it comes to the holidays. Christmas especially, is so much more about the joy than the materials. In America, we waste no time compiling hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of gifts to the point where it becomes a stressful time for most people during the year. Here, not as much emphasis is placed on the “consumer” aspect of it all. They put more emphasis on the lights and the events… the feeling of Christmas. That’s perfect for me because I have no money.
I’m so happy the market is open so early as well, and it will stay open every day through December! I can’t wait to go back and just meander through the shops for hours with friends. I’m expecting my first visitor a week from today, and the Christmas Market will be one of the first activities on our itinerary.
Victory Scholar: Ashley Montecchio
Present University: University of Ulster
Alma Mater: Rosemont College