By Jerelyn Craden
It’s a market. It’s a Food Hub. It’s a café. An organic garden. A magical forest. A home to chickens and ponies. It’s hiking trails. Educational displays. Local businesses. It’s a caring, sharing, not-for-profit charity. It’s a myriad of life-generating things. And on Dec. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. it’s the 2nd annual Abbey Gardens Holiday Night Market aimed at being bigger and better.
“Last year, our first holiday night market was extremely successful,” Ashley McAllister, Director of Operations, said. “We were expecting 150 people and more than 700 showed up. We were lucky that it was held outside, because we had the room to spread out. This year, we’re expanding things to make better use of the property and to offer even more of a great festive experience.”
When visitors pull into the parking lot, they will be drawn to the illuminated entrance in the distance. Upon signing in at the registration table, they will be given a map of the property that clearly shows three locations where various activities will be taking place. Admission is by donation.
1. The Event Tent will be robust with twenty-four local artists and vendors greeting visitors, and sharing information about their work and the special items they have made for holiday gift-giving. “We have a wide variety of items for sale including kids clothing, jewelry, baked goods, Christmas ornaments and décor in our heated tent.” McAllister emphasized. “It’ll be nice and warm in there.”
2. Café at the Food Hub will offer something especially festive this year that is geared for adults: coffee cocktails including hot toddies and Irish coffee. Savoury favourites for the whole family will also be offered: Wood-fired pizza, mac and cheese, and poutine.
Plus, ambient, warming fire pits will be set up at the Food Hub.
The Food Hub will also be open for shopping. So, keep an eye out for some great Abbey Gardens gift baskets.
Also new this year, “We’re setting up a little tree farm at the Food Hub,” McAllister said. “There will be a drive-through station where people can come, pick their tree, and then pick it up on their way out after the market.”
3. The Haliburton Highlands Brewery (HHB) will be open, offering wine, beer, and cider plus other festive treats. HHB is an award-winning micro-brewery producing handcrafted, premium ales as fresh and natural as the Highlands that inspire them.
Caroling by the Highlands Harmony Choir
An absolute delight of the night will be the uplifting voices of the forty-three-member, Highlands Harmony Choir, led by director, Laurel McCauley. “It’s going to be lots of fun!” she said. Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and the Leonard Cohen version of Hallelujah will be among the choir’s heart-warming musical treats.
Warning: The joy they feel singing together is contagious, so if you plan on coming to the event, get ready to feel great.
Abbey Gardens Holiday Night Market is a big fundraiser for its Sprouts to Snacks food-focused kids’ program in partnership with local elementary schools. Children learn all about food, from planting, growing, and harvesting to cooking healthy food. “We did this program before COVID hit,” McAllister said, “and now we’re trying to do a hybrid program in partnership with the school board. We’re hoping to roll it out for the next school year. Proceeds from the event will go towards buying supplies and bussing for kids and covers all of the program’s expenses.”
For more information about Abbey Gardens Holiday Night Market visit: abbeygardens.ca and facebook.com/abbeygrows.