Toronto

Toronto Christmas Market to encourage food donations with new pantry

An organizer of the Toronto Christmas Market is hoping the annual holiday festival will encourage the spirit of giving this year with a new pantry that will feature a wall of cans.

The 'Giving Pantry' will be near a large red heart at the market, which opens this Thursday

An organizer of the Toronto Christmas Market is hoping the annual holiday festival will encourage the spirit of giving this year with a new circular pantry that will feature a wall of cans. (Toronto Christmas Market)

An organizer of the Toronto Christmas Market is hoping the annual holiday festival will encourage the spirit of giving this year with a new pantry that will feature a wall of cans.

The "Giving Pantry" on Gristmill Lane will have shelves upon which visitors to the market can place canned goods. It will be near a large red heart at the market, which opens this Thursday in the Distillery District.

Mathew Rosenblatt, executive director of the Toronto Christmas Market, said the pantry's backdrop will provide a visual echo to Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup Cans, a 1962 artwork on display in New York City's Museum of Modern Art. 
The Toronto Christmas Market opens on Thursday at 4 p.m. Its official opening ceremony begins at 6 p.m. (Toronto Christmas Market)

"This year, we created what we are calling the Giving Pantry, which is really a sort of circular-shaped pantry with shelving to accept cans," he told CBC Toronto.

"We're asking visitors, when they come down to the market, to bring a can with them."

The items, plus the pantry, will be a physical display of generosity, he said. All proceeds will go to the Daily Bread Food Bank.

Rosenblatt said the idea is not only to help out those in need of food donations in Toronto, but to also give people an opportunity to give. There will be a mistletoe at the pantry, plus many Campell's Soup cans. 

"We imagine that it will look quite Warholish," he said. 
Screenprints of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans, a 1962 artwork. The original work is on display in New York City's Museum of Modern Art. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The market, now in its eighth year, starts at 4 p.m. on Thursday, but its official opening ceremony is at 6 p.m. that evening. It runs from Nov. 16th to Dec. 23rd.

Rosenblatt said the market will also feature a new 100-foot long light tunnel with about 80,000 LED lights. The tunnel will be located on the patio of Cluny Bistro, and inside, cheese fondue will be offered. He said it is a pilot project.

New light tunnel to be 'spectacular'

"It's quite spectacular," he said. "When you are in it, you are surrounded by lights. You stand in it and it transports you to some fairy tale land. No worries, because it also transports you back." 

The idea of fondue being offered came from a Christmas market in Bern, Switzerland.  

"We are always looking at surprising and engaging our visitors and creating magical moments," he said. 
Photo taken in 2014 of shoppers at the Toronto Christmas Market in The Distillery Historic District. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

"This is new and this is pretty epic. It's very intuitive. You don't need to be an art or history major to understand how to enjoy it."

Rosenblatt acknowledged the market faces competition this year from a variety of Christmas markets in Toronto, but said the Toronto Christmas Market aims to create Christmas, not to cash in on the annual holiday.

"They're trying to get Christmas dollars, we're not. We are trying to create Christmas, we are trying to create a feeling, an experience. We're not interested in monetizing Christmas," he said.

​Admission will be charged again on weekends, he said. Admission is $6 and is charged starting Friday at 5 p.m. until Sunday, when it closes at 9 p.m.

He said the market introduced admission because it was overcrowded on weekends. 

At the opening ceremony, there will be a lighting of the large Christmas tree and Christmas carol singing in a group. Santa and a Christmas Angel are expected to appear.

Janel Parrish and Dylan Wallach, stars of Grease — The Musical at Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre, are also expected to perform. They are expected to sing Christmas carols and a selection from Grease.

Rosenblatt said the market will again feature entertainment, European food delicacies, gifts, outdoor heated beer and mulled wine gardens.

And for Dutch people in Toronto, St. Nicholas will be welcomed to the market on Dec. 5. 

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