Do you wish the European Christmas markets weren’t so far away? Well, you aren’t the only one. One of the favorite activities for military spouses stationed in Europe is attending the annual Christmas markets. Military spouses’ clubs have long held holiday bazaars as fundraisers for their clubs’ scholarship and grant programs.
One club has stepped it up into a full-blown traditional European market. The Spouses’ Club of Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, decided to introduce this tradition to the Pacific Northwest with their Kris Kringle Market. It takes place November 18-19, 2022. It is a family-friendly event modeled after European Christmas markets. This is no small club bazaar but rather a huge holiday market held at the Thurston County Fairgrounds.
What Makes This Holiday Market Special
The volunteers from the Spouses’ Club of Lewis-McChord have worked hard to bring this event to fruition. “The 2nd Annual Kris Kringle Market presented by the Spouses’ Club of Lewis-McChord is designed like a traditional European Christmas market. There are over 60 artisan/craft vendors along with over a dozen food trucks. We will have our beer garden once again; however, it will be indoors this year!
“Come get your warm glühwein, beer, and cider while you sit inside and enjoy one of the delicious meals offered up by the food vendors! The Kids Zone is available Saturday, November 19 until 5 p.m. Tickets for the Kids Zone get each child exclusive, unlimited access to the inflatable obstacle course, games, and crafts. An amazing family event that will give everyone a European feeling right here in the Pacific Northwest,” said Karin Maggipinto, president of the Spouses’ Club of Lewis-McChord.
What Is Glühwein?
Glühwein literally translates to “glow wine.” It is a popular mulled wine traditionally served at Christmas markets in Germany to keep shoppers warm while strolling the markets. It is a spiced wine served warm with ingredients that include a dry red wine such as merlot or pinot noir — although some recipes require a sweeter wine such as a claret or port — cardamom pods, allspice, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, sugar, and oranges. With a variety of winemakers and Glühwein stalls at the market, you will find no two recipes are the same. I am not a fan but find it tastes much better on a cold day at a market.
Events And Experiences Not To Miss
According to Maggipinto, “Krampus Seattle and Krampus Bremerton are coming both nights! They will not be at Leavenworth this year, so this is a fantastic opportunity to see them without the drive. You will not want to miss the live glass-blowing bus from Lefty’s Glass, or get your hand painted with henna, or the Spouses’ Club Summit Shoppe that will offer exclusive items honoring JBLM. We have VIP experiences for families to shop early and drink cocoa or cider with Santa before the market opens to the public. There’s also a Krampus Nacht experience for those 21+ each night. There is genuinely something for everyone!”
Holiday music will fill the air during the event to help visitors get into the holiday spirit. Purchase a fresh holiday wreath and check out the variety of handmade goods. Don’t miss the local food trucks; many have a cult following in the area.
What Is A Krampus And Krampusnacht?
A Krampus is a half-goat, half-demon monster that legend has punished misbehaving children during the Christmas season, but the roots of the story date back to pagan times. Krampusnacht is traditionally held on December 5 and is a strange European pastime that involves grown men dressed as Krampus running around scaring children. Large amounts of alcohol are also involved. The Kris Kringle Market version is much tamer. Purchase the VIP Krampusnacht Experience for $20. The ticket includes four 6-ounce beers from the Biergarten, glassware from SCLM, and a meet and greet with Krampus Seattle.
Krampus Seattle and Krampus Bremerton are nonprofit volunteer groups that help support other local nonprofits with visits from the Krampus.
Foods To Try And Gifts To Buy
“Whether you like Mexican food, steaks, burgers, etc., or if you like handcrafted arts, there will be something for everyone. Various business owners will be happy to share their talent or custom-made articles with you. We will have traditional Christmas market treats such as caramel apples, fudge, specialty coffee drinks, hot cocoa, hot cider,” said Maggipinto.
Popular vendors returning from last year include Pine & Moss with great gift ideas, Doppio’s Coffee, Harley’s Treats USA, which sells dog treats and is a veteran-owned business, and All Da Gnomies. One of my favorites is Plummer Craft & Woodworking, which will have a variety of Christmas-themed woodcrafts including ornaments, Santa snack boards, Christmas signs, and a variety of Pacific Northwest items.
Support Local Nonprofits With Your Visit
The Spouses’ Club of Lewis-McChord is partnering with Krampus Seattle and Bremerton to collect toys for Santa’s Castle on JBLM. The toys will directly benefit military families E5 and below with children that need support this year with Christmas presents. Santa’s Castle is an annual event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord where those needing assistance can shop for their family at no cost. Santa’s Castle even throws in wrapping paper. Profits from the Kris Kringle Market will be given to the SCLM Community Grants Fund to be awarded to non-profits in the Thurston County/Pierce County area that directly impact the lives of service members and their families at JBLM.
Why I Love The Kris Kringle Market 2022 So Much
This will be the 2nd year the Kris Kringle Market is held, and there is a lot of buzz this year as more people learn about the market. It brings back fond memories for me of the European markets I visited while stationed in Germany. There is something that is so festive about shopping at the Kris Kringle Market. Christmas spirit abounds, and I feel good about shopping at local, small, businesses — many of which are military spouses or veteran-owned. Handcrafted items feel less commercialized and so many of the vendors offer Pacific Northwest-themed items.
Tips For Visiting
“Get your VIP tickets for a private shopping experience on Saturday, November 19 from 12-2 p.m. There are only 100 Saturday VIP tickets for purchase with two options: 1.) Family up to 4 people, and 2.) Family of 5 or more. Adults have a VIP option only as well: Beer Garden VIP passes! Tickets are available online for both days for General Admission and Kids Zone.
“Purchase your tickets ahead of time to shorten your entrance wait to the fairgrounds and to save money! Prices increase at the door,” said Maggipinto. The VIP tickets are very reasonably priced so visitors can splurge a little without spending a lot while raising money for nonprofits. Pacific Northwest weather in the cooler months varies, so check the weather report and dress appropriately.
The Thurston County Fairgrounds
The Thurston County Fairgrounds are in the town of Lacey and are easy to get to via Interstate 5. The market will take place in both indoor and outdoor areas.
Directions Heading to Lacey on I-5 South: Take Exit 109 and turn left onto Martin Way. Take Martin Way to Carpenter Road. Turn right onto Carpenter and follow approximately 3 miles to the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds will be on your left.
Directions Heading to Lacey on I-5 North: Take Exit 109 and turn right onto Martin Way. Take Martin to Carpenter Road. Turn right onto Carpenter and follow approximately 3 miles to the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds will be on your left.