5 Hot New Holiday Markets In New York City

Come December, New York City becomes a veritable mecca of holiday shops, festivals and bazaars. Most tourists are familiar with the classic gift emporiums at Grand Central, Bryant Park and Union Square. But those markets tend to turn off the newer, younger, more independent brands with their hefty vendor fees and multi-week commitments.

For a different scene, check out some of the city’s newer holiday markets, which offer food, drinks, workshops, art exhibitions and, of course, innumerable gift ideas from some of the city’s hottest up-and-coming brands. Here are five of the most buzz-worthy.

The Brooklyn Night Bazaar
The scene: A Williamsburg warehouse is transformed into a month-long hipster spectacular of art, music, food, drink and holiday shopping. Weekend nights feature concerts curated by Fader, Hype Machine, Gothamist and other musical tastemakers.
Gift ideas: Handprinted iPhone cases from Blissful Case, artisan soaps from Ebb & Flow, reclaimed wooden cutting boards from Grain.
When: Fridays and Saturdays, November 23 to December 22, 6 p.m. to midnight
Where: 45 N. 5th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Admission: FreeGIVE GOOD Market*
The scene: A two-day market featuring close to 40 socially conscious businesses owned by women, along with a full lineup of DIY craft workshops, film screenings, musical performances, art exhibitions and a panel on the role of entrepreneurship in women’s empowerment.
Gift ideas: Reclaimed leather handbags from Shannon South, contemporary cow horn jewelry from Kora, hand-knitted hoop scarves from Indego Africa.
When: November 30 to December 1, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Starrett Lehigh Building, 601 W. 26th St., Chelsea, Manhattan
Admission: Free

Bust Magazine Holiday Craftacular and Food Fair
The scene: A kick-ass selection of more than 200 vendors, selling handmade craft items, artisan foods and craft beers over two days. Arrive early; the first 300 shoppers each day get a free goodie bag.
Gift ideas: Artisan cosmetics from The Elixery, shibori-dyed pillows from Eighty8Percent, Hipster Bingo.
When: December 1 to 2, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: 82 Mercer St., SoHo, Manhattan
Admission: $3

Hester Holiday Market
The scene: More than 40 gift and food vendors take over a historic Nolita building in this holiday shopping event from the organizers of the Hester Street Fair. Opening day on December 1 will feature a tree-lighting ceremony, animated light show and Christmas carolers.
Gift ideas: Upcycled charm bracelets from Tillydoro, handprinted socks from Strathcona Stockings, hand-blended looseleaf teas from Not Just Tea.
When: December 1 to 2, 8 to 9, and 15-23, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: 233 Mott St., Nolita, Manhattan
Admission: Free

Brooklyn Craft Central Annual Holiday Market
The scene: This two-weekend event features a curated selection of (mostly) Brooklyn-based crafters and designers. Holiday cocktails and spicy pupusas will also be on tap.
Gift ideas: Hardwood wine holders from Gowanus Furniture, quirky tees from The Fencing & Archery Printing Co., whimsical jewelry from Virginie Millefiori
When: December 15 to 16 and 22 to 23, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Littlefield Art Space, 622 DeGraw St., Park Slope/Gowanus, Brooklyn
Admission: Free

*Disclaimer: The author of this post is on the organizing committee for this event – another reason to check it out!

[Photo Courtesy: Brooklyn Night Bazaar on Facebook]

Hong Kong To Host International Food And Wine Festival

Hong Kong, a city that is already well known for its fantastic cuisine and amazing selection of wines, will extend its reputation for fine dining even further when it plays host to the 2012 American Express Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival. The four-day event, which runs from November 1-4, will offer samplings of some of the finest foods from around the world, set against the stunning backdrop of Victoria Harbor and the city’s iconic skyline.

Now in its fourth year, the festival has already become a popular attraction for foodie travelers and wine connoisseurs alike. Last year’s event drew more than 170,000 attendees and the 2012 edition is expected to be even larger. Those in attendance will be treated to culinary delights and a selection of fine wines from 20 countries and regions across the globe, extending the festival’s reputation as one of the top ten food and wine events in the world.

With more than 310 booths offering tasty temptations, even the most particular of palates will find something to please their tastes. This year, organizers have also extended the very popular theme nights, which highlight specific types of cuisine, and they’ve added the Sweet Pavilion, putting all of the decadent desserts and delicate pastries under one roof. That location is sure to be popular as travelers enjoy a sweet treat while sipping champagne, rosé or sweet wines.

Travelers who aren’t simply content to eat and drink their way through four days of festivities can take part in interactive cooking demonstrations and classes, where they’ll learn to create culinary masterpieces of their own. Live music and street performers will also provide entertainment throughout the festival as well, adding a unique dash of flavor and culture all their own.

Beyond the festival itself, Hong Kong is a dynamic and engaging city that has much to offer any traveler. It features world-class shopping, rich culture, fine art, friendly people and luxurious accommodations. It also serves as a gateway to other parts of Asia, making it a fantastic stop for those coming and going from that part of the world.

Photo Of The Day: Diwali Is Coming Soon

Though Diwali – India‘s festival of lights – is more than a month away, decorations are already starting to spread through the capital of Delhi. According to Flickr user The Delhi Way, the city will be soon be “glittering in ferry lights, diyas and candles” – traditional symbols of the Hindu holiday, which are intended to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Other Diwali traditions include wearing new clothes, sharing sweets with family and lighting firecrackers to drive off evil spirits.

Do you have any photos from traditional fall festivals? Upload your shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day.

Strange Festivals From Around The World

Fall festival season is in full swing now, getting people out and about on the crisp autumn weekends. Some festivals are annual events across town, others take a road trip or weekend getaway to see. In the United States, many have a common theme that includes pumpkins, hay and cider somewhere along the way. In other parts of the world, annual festivals at different times of the year offer a measure of tradition and have been held for decades. Others are just plain odd but they bring some of the most fun that distant lands have to offer.

Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival
Coming up in October, Thailand has the Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival, marking the end of Buddhist Lent. During the festival, the people of Sakhon Nakhon gather in a celebration, which includes a Wax Castle procession, longboat races and cultural performances. Originally using beeswax to make different kinds of flowers, attached to banana tree trunks, today’s festival features castles, temples and shrines paraded around the city showcasing local skill and wisdom.

[Flickr photo by e-dredon]

The Battle of Oranges
Basically a huge food fight, the Battle of Oranges is a festival in the Northern Italian city of Ivrea, which includes a tradition of throwing of oranges between organized groups. During the three-day Orange hurling brawl, the city will go through 50,000 cases of oranges (about 400 tons) as townspeople will get dressed up to re-enact a Middle Age battle. Those dressed as Middle Age kings’ guards, throw oranges at others dressed as foot soldiers as thousands of people gather to watch.

[Flickr photo by Giò-S.p.o.t.s.]

The Night of the Radishes
Mexico has their Day of the Dead festival held in November, a centuries-old tradition that honors those who have died with a walking procession through town in a Mardi Gras sort of way. The Night of the Radishes comes in December and is an exhibition of sculptures made from large red radishes especially grown for this event. It is held only in Oaxaca, Mexico, which is the name of both a state in Mexico and that state’s capital city. Winners get their photo published in the local paper and win a prize, but the festival has more than a century been a focal point of Christmas celebrations in Oaxaca.

Flickr photo by drewleavy

World Bodypainting Festival
The World Bodypainting Festival is an annual festival happens in Austria. The week-long painting fest is the biggest annual event of the body painting culture and community, drawing the best body painting artist teams and models as well as thousands of visitors, from all over the world. The artists compete in many categories from brush and sponge to airbrush and special effects. There is a World Facepainting Award and a special award for special effects face make up. Artists use mostly volunteer male or female models as they wish and female models can go topless if they want.

[Flickr photo by r3dst0rm]

International Bognor Birdman
The International Birdman is a series of two competitions held in West Sussex, England, that have human ‘birdmen’ attempting to fly off the end of a pier into the sea for prize money. The competition brings serious aviators mainly flying hang-gliders and people in costume with little or no actual flying ability, raising money for charity. Initially, there was a prize of £1,000 for anyone who could travel beyond 50 yards but over time that increased to £30,000 for reaching 330 feet.

[Flickr photo by DavidQuick]

But one of the strangest festivals around has to be Thailand’s Face Piercing Festival that we see in this video.

[Flickr photo (top) by roberthuffstutter]

What You Need To Know About Oktoberfest 2012

I love Oktoberfest season. Just as the summer heat disappears, men in lederhosen with feathered hats take to the streets, and I can sample all the Oktoberfest beers that arrive in my favorite beer stores. (This year my favorite is the Otter Creek Oktoberfest, which is brewed with real Vermont maple syrup.) Munich’s Oktoberfest starts on Saturday and in the coming weeks, there will be Oktoberfest celebrations in cities and towns all over the U.S. and wherever there are ethnic German communities around the world.

But none are quite like the original Oktoberfest in Munich, which hosted nearly 7 million visitors last year with nary a Budweiser or Miler Lite in sight. To get a better idea of what the original Oktoberfest in Munich is all about, we talked to Isabella Schopp, from the City of Munich Tourism Bureau.

Why is it called Oktoberfest if it starts in September?

It used to be in October in the first years but as the weather was always very rainy, grey and sometimes there was even snow, some of the Munich caterers decided that the Oktoberfest should already end on the first weekend of October. It has started in September since 1872.

The Oktoberfest celebration in Munich is the most famous one but are there others all over Germany?

Almost every city and village in Germany has its own folk festival with beer tents and fun rides, which takes one to two weeks each year. They are not called “Oktoberfest” but have their own names and cannot be compared to the Oktoberfest, as they are much smaller and less well known.

What are the origins of the celebration in Munich?

The Munich Oktoberfest, the largest folk festival in the world, has its origin in the wedding ceremony of Crown Prince Ludwig – later King Ludwig I. of Bavaria – with Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen in the year 1810.

How has the celebration changed over the years?

The Oktoberfest still remains the traditional Munich funfair with Munich hospitality and Munich beer. There still are many traditional parts like the parades on the first weekend and some nostalgic rides. However, it has also grown a lot. In the meantime there are 14 large festival halls (“beer tents”), many more rides and games (130 altogether) and the number of visitors has grown a lot.

Tell us a bit about the special Oktoberfest beers that are available during the celebration?

Only those breweries that brew within the city limits are allowed to sell their beer at Oktoberfest. There are, at the moment, six different breweries that provide their own Oktoberfest beers. Only Munich beer from the proven traditional Munich breweries – Augustinerbrauerei, Hacker-Pschorrbrauerei, Löwenbrauerei, Paulanerbrauerei, Spatenbrauerei and Staatliches Hofbräuhaus – which satisfy the Munich purity standards of 1487 and the German purity standards of 1906 may be served.

What does a liter of beer cost?

The price of beer in 2012 is €9.10 – €9.50 per liter.

Other than pretzels what other kind of food is traditionally eaten at Oktoberfest?

The beer is best accompanied by Bavarian delicacies such as radishes, obatzda (specially garnished cream cheese), sausages and roast chicken or spicy fish grilled on a skewer. Another Wiesn specialty is the ox roasted on a spit at the Ochsenbraterei. (The Wiesn is the festival area.)

I know it can be difficult to find a room in Munich during Oktoberfest, any advice for travelers who need a place to stay?

It is advisable to reserve rooms as early as possible. Rooms can be booked via München Tourismus: phone +49 89 23396550 or email gaesteservice.tam@muenchen.de.
There are also some camping sites in and around Munich where visitors with a small budget can stay.

How many people take part in Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich each year?

In 2011, 6.9 million people took part in Oktoberfest celebrations. The number of visitors has risen every year.

Other than drinking beer and oom-pah bands, what else happens during the course of the celebration?

The Oktoberfest is much more than drinking beer.
The festive setting for the opening of the Oktoberfest is the entry of the festival hosts and breweries, which has been the same since 1887. During the ceremonial opening of the fest, the families of the festival arrive in coaches adorned with flowers, along with the bands, waitresses on decorated carriages and magnificent horse drawn carts from the Munich breweries. This procession is led off by the “Münchner Kindl” – Munich’s symbolic figure – on horseback, followed by the festival coach of the Lord Mayor.

The procession of folklore and marksmen groups takes place on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest. Some 9,000 persons from Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Norway, Poland and Switzerland participate in this seven-kilometer long parade. There are people in historical uniforms, marksmen, folklore groups, local bands and thoroughbred horses. This procession was held for the first time in 1835 on the occasion of the silver wedding anniversary of Ludwig I. and Therese of Bavaria.

A big band open-air concert of all Oktoberfest bands with some 300 musicians takes place on the second Sunday of the festival. For the grand finale of the Oktoberfest on the last Sunday, some 60 marksmen give a farewell salute.

Do locals take off from work to take part in this, or do they show up for work hung over the next morning?

Some locals take off from work to take part in the Oktoberfest but usually locals go to work the next morning, some probably a bit later than usual!

Have there been security issues with people getting too drunk and causing problems in previous years?

The security measures have always been good. But there are always some conflicts between drunken visitors that can be solved quickly by the security people. After some critical reviews of security procedures, the taskforce “Security at the Wiesn,” introduced measures that enabled security at the Wiesn to be steadily increased.

What’s your favorite part about Oktoberfest?

What I like best at the Oktoberfest is the procession of folklore and marksmen groups, which takes place on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest, as well as the special, happy vibe all over the Oktoberfest grounds, as well as in the beer tents.

[Photos courtesy of The German National Tourist Board]