A sneak peek inside the Holly Jolly Market in downtown London, Ont.

There’s no shortage of holiday spirit at Covent Garden Market as the downtown London, Ont., vendor venue hosts its all-new Holly Jolly Market.

On Friday, reporters were given a tour of the three-week-long seasonal spectacle, which is set for every Thursday to Sunday until Dec. 18.

Admission is free and some of the features include food and artisan vendors, light installations, Santa’s House, live entertainment, a hot chocolate bar and a massive Christmas tree serving as a centrepiece.

“We did the Holly Jolly Market last year, but it was on a smaller scale, so this year, we wanted to get the outdoors involved as well, along with the indoors,” said Covent Garden Market general manager and CEO Amy Shackleton.

“It took a lot of downtown collaboration with our community partners, coming together and coming up with an idea of what can we do to celebrate the season and also bring people into the downtown core.”

Julia Klassen, owner of Williams-Leigh Co., is one of several vendors set up on the second floor of Covent Garden Market for the Holly Jolly Market.

Julia Klassen, owner of Williams-Leigh Co., is one of several vendors set up on the second floor of Covent Garden Market for the Holly Jolly Market.

Andrew Graham / Global News

Julia Klassen, owner of Exeter-based Williams-Leigh Co., is one of several vendors set up on the second floor of Covent Garden Market, as part of the indoor portion of the Holly Jolly Market.

Klassen is selling custom-made candles fit the holidays. Some of her designs include Christmas trees, wrapped presents, snowmen and mittens, all paired with seasonal scents.

“I have molds for them and I use a soy pillar wax, it’s just a stronger type of soy wax. It takes about three to six hours depending on the size of the candle,” Klassen said of the creation process.

“Everyone definitely stops and they look at the trees because I’ve never seen trees like this in candle form… I think it’s going to go really well.”

Take a step outside Covent Garden Market and you'll find a massive Christmas tree surrounded by vendors and live entertainment.

Take a step outside Covent Garden Market and you'll find a massive Christmas tree surrounded by vendors and live entertainment.

Andrew Graham / Global News

Take a step outside Covent Garden Market and you’ll find a massive Christmas tree surrounded by vendors, art displays and live entertainment.

In one corner is Chris’ Country Cuts, which teamed up with fellow Covent Garden Market resident Olive R. Twists to set up a unique food and drink vendor hut.

“(Olive R. Twists’ has) a whole cocktail thing going on and then we decided that we’d keep it basic and stay in my lane, and we’re serving peameal bacon, that we make in-store,” said Chris Lyons, who co-owns Chris’ Country Cuts with his wife Anne.

“Peameal bacon on a bun, which is a good Canadian kind-of snack and food and it’s wholesome and warm and all that stuff.”

A 23-year resident of Covent Garden Market, Lyons says he’s happy with the direction the organization is taking with new initiatives like the Holly Jolly Market.

“We needed something to kick start the season, we needed to give people a reason to come downtown … so this, in my opinion, is awesome.”

Chris Lyons of Chris' Country Cuts takes a bite out of a peameal bacon sandwich served by Olive R. Twists' Madigan Davies.

Chris Lyons of Chris' Country Cuts takes a bite out of a peameal bacon sandwich served by Olive R. Twists' Madigan Davies.

Andrew Graham / Global News

Jesse Walker is also serving food at the Holly Jolly Market, through a vendor hut set up for his restaurant Beach Boy Burger, which opened in London in August.

“It’s just about spreading the word about our restaurant … it’s huge for us,” Walker said.

Walker says his restaurant’s motto is all about bringing the sunshine of the beach to Beach Boy Burger’s customers, and while the December forecast may have other ideas, they’ll still be plenty of food to at least keep bellies warm.

“We’re doing Smash burgers — single, double, triple, cheeseburgers — we think we have one of the best burgers here in the city, I think a lot of people feel the same and we’re excited for some new people to come by and try them out.”

There’s even a chance to get some new threads at the market, where London-based Old North Co. is selling apparel, hats, scrunchies, pet accessories and other goods.

“We always have the first-day jitters — kind of getting everything set up and getting everything ready for the customers — but it’s been great. It’s so nice to see people come out,” said co-owner Mallory Kemp, adding that she hopes to enjoy the market herself, when possible.

“It’s really nice having my sister as my business partner because we can kind of split up and take turns walking around … we try to enjoy the event as much as we can, we always get a little jealous being on this side of things.”

Sisters McKenzie (left) and Mallory Kemp have plenty of goods to keep folks warm at the Holly Jolly Market.

Sisters McKenzie (left) and Mallory Kemp have plenty of goods to keep folks warm at the Holly Jolly Market.

Andrew Graham / Global News

The Holly Jolly Market is one of several events taking place as part of seasonal Downtown for the Holidays campaign, which officially kicks off with London’s Lighting of the Lights in Victoria Park on Friday.

The campaign will also feature free horse and carriage rides every Thursday and Sunday until Dec. 18, a 40-foot carousel arriving on Dundas Place on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 and music and art crawls spanning several businesses in the downtown core.

The campaign will literally go out with a bang with fireworks scheduled for the annual New Year’s Eve in the Park on the evening of Dec. 31.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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