I have another event to add to your December traditions! The St Paul European Christmas Market is held on the East Plaza at Union Depot over the first two-weekends of December. The market was inspired by “Christkindlmarkt,” an outdoor holiday festival common across central European countries during the Advent season. Since the Middle Ages, this 500-year-old world tradition fosters European shared cultural heritage. Plan to shop for all kinds of artisan, unique, handmade holiday gifts and decorations such as Christmas ornaments, nutcracker, beeswax candles, decorative glass, wool mittens and scarves, jewelry, wooden toys, artwork, holiday decor, clothing, toys, Pop-up cards, wooden utensils, blankets, rugs, wood burned art, rolling pins, clocks, soap in felted wool wrap, steins, candles and boots. While you are there, taste European-inspired food and delicacies that include roasted nuts, sizzling sausages, cones of warm sugared almonds, hot-off-the-pan potato pancakes, Jægerschnitzel, pierogi platters, cabbage rolls, handmade spaetzle, apple fritters, chocolate-covered waffles, cheese curds and Sponsel’s Minnesota Harvest Orchard freshly baked apple pastries (pictured) and caramel apples. Follow all that up with some Glühwein (spiced mulled wine), hot chocolate, apple cider or eggnog! This free, eight-day open-air event that had become so popular, now in its third year, they even had Krampus join in on the fun!
The frozen sunrise is incredible when viewed over Minnesota’s ninth largest lake, Lake Minnetonka. With 125 miles of shoreline, it’s easy to find a beautiful vantage point. This particular spot is Wayzata Bay off Lake Street in Wayzata looking towards Cedar Point.
My absolute, most-favorite event of the year is the Union Depot’s Annual Holiday Bake Sale. Hosting the top Twin Cities bakeries for 5 years in a row, it certainly doesn’t disappoint! More than just a bake sale, it includes all kinds of events like baking and cooking demonstrations and musical performances. This year, there was even a holiday cake walk sponsored by The Germanic American Institute! Every year I buy so many baked goods that I can barely hold my camera, let alone walk back to my car! I tend to get very “involved” when baked goods are offered. My camera is covered in frosting, and rightfully so. I fell in love with Groundswell’s Ugly Sweater Cookies, The Buttered Tin’s Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees and Grandma’s Gourmets Dilly Beans.
Featured Bakeries and Vendors: North Mallow, Heavenly Treats, Potter’s Pasties, Bread Art, Curly Girlz Candy, Nikkolette’s Macarons, Cookie Cart, T-Rex Cookie Company, Something Sweet by Maddie Lu, Sarah Jane’s Bakery, St. George Greek Orthodox Church, The Buttered Tin, Ink Sweets, Groundswell Midway, Black Dog Cafe, Groveland Confections, ALMA, MinneCookies, The Sweet Retreat, Mademoiselle Miel, Germanic American Institute, Antoinette’s Little Bakeshop, Amy’s classic Confections, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Jamazing, Double Take Salsa, Patti’s Granola, Grandma’s Gourmets, Panache, Blue Heron Soap Company, Wild Country Maple Products, and Vom Fass.
Check out past years here: 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. I HIGHLY recommend adding the Bake Sale to your yearly holiday traditions.
Speaking of brunch, I have another to add to my growing list of favorite stops. I give you, Lola’s Lakehouse located on Lake Waconia. Lola’s, the former home of Nancy’s Landing is reminiscent of Cape Cod, with strong nautical decor (think mermaids and life preserver rings) and a New England influenced menu. I fell head-over-heels for the smoked gouda potato bake and maple walnut pie. Others rave about their shrimp risotto, calamari and lobster bisque. The dark, heavy wood tables pair well with the glass garage doors exposed on the Marina-side. The view is gorgeous from the open-air deck patio. While it is the perfect place to dock your boat in the summertime, you can still enjoy the view of the lake in the winter as you stay warm and cozy inside.