FARGO — Christkindlmarkt is on its own Christmas creep this year — not just in terms of timing, but also location.
The annual European-style holiday market, which runs Thursday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Nov. 24, pulled up stakes from its previous position at the Stone Building, 613 First Ave. N., Fargo, and heads 10 blocks west to Drekker Brewing Co., 1666 First Ave. N., Fargo.
“I think we did a good job masking some things. We felt that we’d maxed out the inside space of the building,” says Simone Wai, who co-organizes the event with her community-building group, Folkways. “It’s an old beautiful building and things weren’t always up to where they needed to be for an event like this, like electricity and plumbing, those things you really need behind the scenes.”
The Stone Building, formerly home to the Avalon, is a property of Kilbourne Group, owned by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, the father of Wai’s partner, Joe Burgum.
Folkways hosts events throughout the year, most notably the Red River Market, which was held in The Forum’s parking lot this year.
While Drekker is outside the heart of downtown Fargo, Wai says the site is more ideal.
“There will be more outdoor space, which I really think is the focus of the event,” she says. “We wanted to take the opportunity to create a new space that was more traditional to European Christkindlmarkts.”
She says merchants will set up outdoors in a vendor village of booths, similar to the hawker huts in traditional European holiday markets.
“We’re definitely taking advantage of the beer hall there. It’s a beautiful space,” she says of the building known as Brewhalla. “It really lends itself to the character of the event.”
Drekker brewmasters are even creating a specialty brew for the event, a twist on mulled wine known as glühwein.
The event may be set in a brewery, but it is still family-friendly. Ashley Rieck, event coordinator at Drekker, says kids are allowed in Brewhalla every business day until 8 p.m.
This Sunday is a special day for kids, with a visit from Santa, face painting, crafts with the Audubon Society, a storytime with the Fargo Public Library and aerial demos by FM Aerial & Movement Arts from noon to 3 p.m. The FM Ballet will perform excerpts from “The Nutcracker” at 4 p.m.
Each day features music and demonstrations in addition to craft vendors.
While Christkindlmarkt wraps at 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 6 p.m. on Sunday, that doesn’t mean the party ends then. Brewhalla remains open for a few hours each day with bands playing into the night.
Rieck says bringing Christkindlmarkt to Brewhalla only reinforces what the space is all about.
“Having a big beer hall, we had envisioned this big, festive culture that could be created. It seemed like a no-brainer,” she says.
The change in venue is just another sign of growth. During Christkindlmarkt's first year in 2015, the event featured four vendors and one band and was held behind Twenty Below Coffee Co. on Roberts Street in downtown Fargo. That drew “maybe 1,000” people in two days, Wai says. She estimates 8,000 attended last year's four-day event, and she says up to 10,000 could show up this year.
“As we’re building these vendor booths, I see it growing into much more of a thing in the future,” she says.
The other big change this year is moving the celebration up to the week before Thanksgiving, mainly because the holiday is so late this year.
“We want people to be able to be relaxed and enjoy it, not to have one more thing to be stressed about,” Wai says. “We decided to move it up and allow people more time to go to other holiday things.”
“There are quite a few of us here who love the holiday season in general,” Rieck says. “I love going to Christkindlmarkt every year. I love the indoor-outdoor aspect of it all. I love seeing families bring kids and the dancing that happens and it seems like everyone is happy. We’re excited to start decorating.”
If you go
What: Folkways Christkindlmarkt
Where: Drekker Brewing Co., 1666 First Ave. N., Fargo
When: 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, and Friday Nov. 22, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24