CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Immediately after Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Charlotte’s first-ever German Christmas Village will open in Uptown’s Romare Bearden Park.
But the traditional German-style wooden huts that were originally advertised won’t be there after all. Instead, the village will be made up of tents.
“The county interpreted our huts as permanent construction, so two weeks ago we switched from huts to tents so we could save the village,” said Paul Claus, Co-Founder Charlotte Christmas Village.
He said he was told the huts would violate North Carolina State Building Code and be a fire hazard, so they were not allowed. Claus says no one feels more disappointed than him, but he’s confident this year’s village will be the start of a new holiday tradition in Charlotte and vendors agree.
“We would love to have the little huts. I think that would even bring more ambiance to it, but we’ll make due with this and then maybe next year we’ll have the huts,” said vendor Steve Young of Coddle Creek Farm based in Mooresville.
Young says he’ll be selling gift baskets and his farm’s homemade honey -- and wouldn’t have missed the chance to be part of the new outdoor market. “I think it will be really neat. I think a lot of people will come down just because it’s something new.”
Christmas villages are an old European concept. Similar villages pop-up every year in other U.S. cities like Philadelphia and Chicago and are wildly popular.
“We’ve got products from Nepal, Ecuador, products made right here in Charlotte, Germany, Ukraine,” says Claus who had the idea to bring a Christmas village to Charlotte and teamed up with Charlotte Center City Partners to make it happen.
“There are kids activities on Saturdays, Santa will be making a visit,” said Claus.
The village which opens to the public November 24, will be open daily until Christmas eve, December 24. It will also feature entertainment, a beer and wine tent and lots of food.
“We’re going to be fresh roasting the German cinnamon almonds and the German cinnamon pecans,” says vendor John Bell, who traveled from Virginia to be part of the village.
“The reaction is unbelievable in Charlotte,” says Dave Traber, Co-owner of Helmut’s Original Austrian Strudel.
Traber and his wife travel from Florida to New Jersey sharing their traditional Austrian strudels and just finished the Charlotte Christmas Show, but decided to stay and take part in the Christmas Village.
“It is a typical German and Austrian dish. The Austrian one is just a little different than the German one, but ours is a true Austrian,” he says.
Admission to the Christmas village is free. Hours, according to their website are:
• 11 am to 7 pm Tuesday - Wednesday;
• 11 am to 9 pm Thursday - Saturday;
• Noon to 6 pm Sunday;
• Closed Mondays
• Beer sales begin at 3 pm weekdays and when we open weekends