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Pair of popular holiday markets kick off festive season in Saint John

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Saint John, N.B., may not have a Santa Claus parade to look forward top this weekend, but that doesn’t mean there is no holiday spirit.

A pair of Christmas markets in the Rhoda’s Christmas Festival and Rockwood Park German Christmas Market will take place this weekend in the Port City.

“Everybody is excited that we are here as it’s a kickoff to the Christmas season for a lot of people,” says Rhoda’s Christmas Festival owner Colleen Hatfield.

“There is something for everybody, men and women,” Hatfield continues. “There’s lots of food, there are all kinds of bath products, skin care, crafts, and we have artists here. We also have things for five or ten dollars you can fill your stockings with it is just such a variety.”

The three day market at TD Station is a one weekend event featuring around 250 unique vendors. Many of the vendors come from New Brunswick, but the market includes offerings from other maritime provinces as well. Vendors have even come as far as Quebec and Ontario.

“A lot of the people that come to these they do the whole circuit,” Hatfield says. “They go to Halifax, they go to Fredericton, Moncton, y’know P.E.I. and I think that’s the difference. We get more vendors from away.”

Rockwood Park’s German Christmas Market has transformed the parks campground into a cozy winter village.

Rockwood Park’s German Christmas Market runs each weekend until Dec. 17 at Rockwood Park in Saint John, N.B. (Avery MacRae/CTV Atlantic)

“We have built like an actual Christmas Village,” says organizer Joel Skogman. “I don’t think anything exists quite like this anywhere in the Maritimes expect for us.”

Vendors are set up in makeshift wooden stalls on the grounds. Vendors sell bake good, crafts and other merchandise, but the market also has an increased focus on giving back.

“There’s a clothing drive, women’s shelter, food bank, so it is basically just a way to do a lot of good with the facilities that we have,” Skogman says.

The market also has alpacas for the kids to enjoy, and have transformed their A-frame building into a magical Santa’s grotto, where Santa Claus will be there to see all the children.

Rhoda’s will also see Santa Claus come to its market on both Saturday and Sunday.

Regardless of the market they visit, shoppers have the same goal in mind.

“I like to give crafts for Christmas,” says Angie McDonald. “I love going to all the markets I was really excited for this.”

“You can get lots of ideas for Christmas stuff as it is, plus like I said your stopping can be done all in one spot,” says Karen Bray, who was pleased to see the markets after missing out on them in western Newfoundland.

And it’s what vendors have waited all year for.

“It’s very busy,” Slyvie Crabbe admits, who has set up her Stained Glass by the Bay at Rockwood’s market. “The only unfortunate thing is that there is a lot of different markets going on but this is very different.”

“We start making for Christmas in May to have enough product to sell this time of year, because this is the busiest time,” admits Michelle Murphy, who is set up at Rhoda’s for the first time after coming all the way from Windsor N.S.

Rhoda’s will be open both Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $8 an adult and grant you access for the entire weekend.

The German Christmas Market will be open each Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. until December 17.

Both markets say coming just one time isn’t enough, noting new products and vendors are always coming in making the experience unique each time.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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