'Edmonton Project' finalist pitches plan for Christmas village

Georgina Atkin wants to bring a longstanding European tradition to Edmonton by building Christmas or Advent villages in the city during the holidays.

Holiday markets are a time-honoured tradition overseas

Visitors walk among stalls at the annual Christmas market at Alexanderplatz in Berlin on the market's opening day. (Getty Images)

Christmas might be 347 days away, but Georgina Atkin has the holiday on her mind.

Atkin wants to bring a longstanding European tradition to Edmonton by building Christmas or Advent villages during the holidays. Temporary holiday markets would bring the spirit of the season to the streets, Atkin said.

The pop-up bazaars are a time-honoured tradition overseas. 

"They have markets set up where you can purchase all kinds of different items, from food to clothes to Christmas gifts," Atkin said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"They also have kiosks where you can buy some hot cider and mulled wine and you get your cup and walk around the village, do some shopping, watch some the entertainment.

"It's a great family outing. It is awesome."

The festive proposal is one of 10 finalists for the Edmonton Project, a partnership of five companies looking to create a distinct landmark in the city.

To win, Atkin's Christmas village pitch will have to outshine some seriously fantastical proposals. Other groups have pitched a food truck ferris wheel, a river valley tree house and a gondola over the North Saskatchewan River. 

Competitors' formal pitches will be presented to a panel of five judges on March 6. A winner will be announced the same day.

'The whole city turns out'

Atkin, a local nurse, said the city could repurpose its Green Shacks to create unique street-side spaces for vendors, who could deck out the buildings in holiday decor.

Depending on the location, markets could also feature family skating or curling tournaments.

There are plenty of places that would be a good fit for a market Atkin said, highlighting Churchill Square, the legislature grounds, the Muttart Conservatory and Whyte Avenue as possible locations.

"As it grows, I would like to see it move out into different venues," she said. "And eventually, out in the communities, where each community league would have their own little Christmas village."

Similar Christmas markets in places like London, Glasgow, Barcelona and Belgium attract thousands of visitors each year, bringing the streets to life with crowds and breathtaking light displays.

"It is worldwide and you see people from all walks of life," Atkin said. "It's not just Christian. It's more about the spirit of the season, getting out with family and having a good time.

"The whole city turns out to these things."

The hosts of CBC Radio's Edmonton AM will talk to each of the finalists of the Edmonton project over the next two weeks. Listen to Edmonton AM with host Mark Connolly, weekday mornings at CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM in Edmonton. Follow the morning crew on Twitter @EdmAMCBC.

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