For Gaslight Hospitality owner and creative director Kyle Priestley, the Christmas season means welcoming a special kind of magic.
Now, as the holidays approach, Priestley is bringing that holiday excitement to life in Cambridge’s historic Gaslight District.
Starting Friday, November 24 and running until December 17, the area will be transformed into a festive Christmas market, marking the inaugural year of what he’s promising will become an annual tradition.
“I always thought of Christmas as just pure magic.” Priestley said. “To me, and to many people in the community, It's really when we make time to get together.”
The Christmas Market features more than 30 vendors, along with special events like live music, interactive art, and holiday dances.
It’s all about giving people a special place to go these holidays while staying close to home, Priestley said.
“People's mindset changes around the holidays, and they want to gather with their families. With the Christmas Market, I just wanted to expand on that and give people a destination to extend those get-togethers.”
The Market will run Friday-Sundays until December 17, with events running throughout the day. That includes, of course, a visit from Santa on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Santa’s first visit to the District is at Tapestry Hall on December 3. Kids will get the chance to write their holiday wishes in a letter to Santa, and also take pictures with Jolly St. Nick in his sleigh.
The District is also hosting Santa's Dance Party, a weekend event where kids can have a dance party with Santa and his elves.
Craft stations, games, presents, a balloon artist on premises, and a Candyland swing — there's no shortage of fun activities for the whole family, Priestley said.
"It's a wholesome place to bring your family. And it's such an easy space to navigate. It has a warmth to it, the square is a private space, so you're not facing a road or any busy avenues.”
“When you come into the district, it's just an enormous, welcoming place."
The season culminates with the Neon New Year’s Eve Party and countdown in the square.
DJ Jess will kick things off on December 31st at 8:00 PM, with live music and entertainment continuing from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM.
The live music entertainment will feature tributes to Bruno Mars, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. Party favours and dancers will also be on hand during the countdown.
In the spirit of community support, the group is also announcing that Gore Mutual is the title sponsor for the Gaslight District Christmas Market. Additional support comes from partners Rego Realty Inc., MTE Consultants, BigSteelBox and Sunbelt Rentals.
History of the District
Priestley has been at the helm of the Gaslight District since its inception, and partnering with a handful of community partners, the district has become a new kind of public place designed to connect people through the act of play with strangers and neighbours —all free of charge.
The pedestrian-friendly space encompasses a 1-acre public square, surrounded by century-old limestone foundry buildings that echoes Cambridge’s industrial past.
The Gaslight vibe lends itself well to a Christmas party, Priestley said, something the creative team was aware of when they began planning the annual event.
“I want people to feel like they've kind of stepped back in time,” Priestley said. “They walk in holding their kids’ hands and looking at all the Christmas decor and smelling the cinnamon doughnuts.”
“It is definitely an old-school Christmas vibe.”
The Cambridge Symphony Orchestra also will be getting into the old school Christmas spirit. On December 14 the Symphony, featuring tenors Romulo Delgado and Salvatore Cambino, is scheduled to perform at Tapestry Hall.
They’re calling the event Making Spirits Bright, and it will include swinging tunes from the Big Band Era.
“This year we’re doing the concert in the style of the roaring 20s,” Priestly said. “Lots of people told me that now that the pandemic is over, people are going to be celebrating, and we thought that was a great way to kick off the Christmas season with a sort of Gatsby-style dinner.”
People are encouraged to dress up for the Symphony, and you can purchase tickets by clicking on this link.
Along with the District’s time-capsule charm, elements of the present are also added to this year’s events. The country's largest permanently installed video wall — a 60-foot television screen – will be playing Christmas content over the market weekends.
But perhaps one of the most special events slated for the Gaslight District Markets is the first annual Gingerbread House Exhibition in the Bellflower Market.
Participants are encouraged to make their own houses from scratch or start with store-bought kits. The key is to get creative with the house’s architectural design and have fun with the holiday theming.
“If people bring their gingerbread house or candy stained glass window they all get a $5 gift card as a thank you for participating,” Priestly said. “And if you’re just starting out, we’ll have plenty of recipes and links to how-to’s on our website to help you make your own gingerbread.”
All ages are welcomed and encouraged. All you need to do is let the organizers know that you’ll be participating by filling out this easy online form.
Prizes to be announced soon.