CandyTown festival brings the spirit of the holidays to Yaletown

A festive market is set to bring some holiday cheer to Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood at the start of December, with some proceeds going toward the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

The CandyTown winter festival — Downtown Vancouver’s only free outdoor winter market — returns to the city for its 11th year, featuring a variety of holiday vendors, ice sculptures, and roaming characters such as gingerbread men.

Annette O’Shea is the executive director of the Yaletown Business Improvement Association.

“People just come and have some fun and get some hot chocolate, go for a horse carriage ride around the neighbourhood,” O’Shea said. “It’ll only happen one day a year.”

This year will also feature a pet-friendly Winter Wonderland photo station.

A child pokes at a stuffed snowman's nose
A child pokes at a snowman’s nose. (Courtesy Yaletown Business Improvement Association)

But for O’Shea, the best part of the event is a station where kids can write letters to Santa.

“The kids can come inside and, with our volunteers’ help, they write a letter to Santa,” she said. “And we absolutely guarantee that they will get a response from Santa to their letter.”

Last year, O’Shea says they received about 300 letters in 8 different languages.

There will also be live music from carolers and horse-drawn carriage rides.

“(The horses) are in beautiful Christmas finery, all shined up and gorgeous, and it’s very, very popular,” O’Shea said. “It’s a by-donation ride. so pay what you can and the merchants of Yaletown will cover the rest.”

This year’s festival happens on Dec. 2 from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. at Bill Curtis Square and Helmcken Plaza.

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