By Donna Nadeem, Contributor and Lauren O’Donnell, A&C Reporter
‘Tis the season for holiday shopping and there’s no time like the present to start. With a number of Christmas markets coming up in Hamilton, you’ll have more than one chance to take a retreat away from campus and enjoy seasonal holiday delights. You can also look on the City of Hamilton website for a list of more events.
Two markets taking place in Hamilton are being organized by their respective Business Improvement Areas. In Hamilton, a BIA is composed of property and business owners in a pre-established area who work to support the area’s commercial success.
Ottawa Street Christmas Shopping Day: Nov. 30
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 30, the Ottawa Street BIA will be hosting a Christmas Shopping Day. Located on Ottawa Street North, this day will feature ornament painting at Earls Court Gallery (215 Ottawa St. N), strolling carolers, hot chocolate stations and tote bags filled with goodies from different businesses. It wouldn’t be a proper event without Old Saint Nick himself. Indeed, Santa Claus will be making an appearance.
The even will also offer free horse and carriage rides. The pickup and dropoff is in front of the BIA office (3 Britannia Ave), and the carriages will go almost the full length of the street and then circle around through the neighbourhood, so shoppers can get on and off.
Ottawa Street has always been a popular destination for fabric and antiquities. Recently, it has evolved into a vibrant shopping centre for small businesses of all kinds. Its fabric and antique stores still remain, but they’ve been joined by cafés, restaurants, a bookstore, a thrift store and even a handmade candle shop.
Ottawa Street North’s Christmas Shopping Day just may be the perfect opportunity to buy your friend, secret santa or significant other a gift. With the number of options available on Ottawa Street, there should be something for everyone. Board games to play together? Check. Candles with their favourite scent? Check. A store dedicated entirely to cheese? Check, check and cheddar.
Emily Burton, event coordinator for the Ottawa Street Business Improvement Association, spoke to the benefits of getting your holiday shopping done in one stop.
“The holidays can be a little bit overwhelming as far as figuring out a way to afford presents, and just to find nice and unique gifts. I think the Christmas Shopping Day, and just in general our stores are a really cool opportunity to find some more personal presents,” said Burton.
Even though the event is called “Christmas shopping day”, Burton emphasized that Ottawa Street will be open for everyone to enjoy. With exam season looming, this could be a great opportunity for some light-hearted holiday fun and an escape from your textbooks and lecture PowerPoints. Hot chocolate and free carriage rides would be a great place to start.
Since the 10 B-Line express bus now runs on Saturdays, students can reach this event by bus or take advantage of free street parking from Nov. 24 to Dec. 24.
International Village: Dec. 6
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 6, the International Village BIA will be hosting Victorian Night in the Village. Located at the International Village, which includes Main Street East, King Street East and King William Street, between Mary Street and West Avenue, in downtown Hamilton. This night will offer guests free hot apple cider, Victorian carollers and special sales at shops and restaurants. The night will coincide with the Gore Park tree lighting. Susie Braithwaite, the Executive Director at International Village BIA, anticipates that the event will be magical.
What will make the event so magical you may ask? Take a peek at Santa’s workshop nestled within Ferguson Station. Horse drawn carriages will be available to shuttle people from Ferguson Station to Denninger’s Foods of the World (284 King St. East) and back. Hot apple cider will also be available to warm up those cold fingers during the night while you enjoy the voices of holiday carollers as you stroll in and out of the many shops that line this area of King Street.
Local businesses such as Studio 205, Gameopolis and Girl on the Wing will be a part of the Victorian Night in the Village. Studio 205 is having a “Sip & Shop” event where customers will be able to shop tax free and receive a free hot beverage. Gameopolis, Hamilton’s first board game cafe, will be offering sales on board games to purchase or to play.
— InternationalVillage (@HamIntlVillage) November 29, 2019
“I’ve always had a positive experience working with the BIA and participating in the local events that they host. The BIA is a helpful resource if you are a new business or even an existing one,” said Jess Maurice, co-owner of Gameopolis.
Many businesses are getting involved by extending their hours into the evening so shoppers can explore all that there is to experience. Many are also holding sales, workshops or other events.
“It helps everybody in the village when the businesses take part, we find that very important,” said Clayton Burns, owner of Studio 205.
Not only are you sure to find something unique for everyone on your list at Victorian Night in the Village and Christmas Shopping Day, but you can also support local brands. Shopping locally over the holidays helps small businesses to grow, which in turn livens up the community.
“We’re wanting to promote people to shop locally and to invest in the local economy here. The stores are open all day and it has a festive spirit to it,” said Burton.
Both events are a chance to come together and celebrate the upcoming holiday season with Hamilton’s local community.