Forget outdoor lights and store decorations, Christmas officially kicks off in Whistler with its annual two-pronged artisan sale — Bizarre Bazaar and Bratz Biz.
Everything from food items, toys, clothing, toiletries, household goods and artwork is sold by talented craftspeople from the Sea to Sky corridor and the Lower Mainland.
The sale takes place on Saturday, Nov. 29 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and Sunday, Nov. 30 (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at the Whistler Conference Centre.
Bratz Biz, where youngsters make and sell high-quality items, is in its third year alongside the adult bazaar.
Susan Shrimpton, who co-organizes Bratz Biz, says they had more youngsters applying than spaces available this year.
There are 28 businesses taking part in Bratz Biz on the Saturday, 24 on the Sunday.
"It's great. We are really excited to have new people and to have people who haven't participated for a couple of years come back," Shrimpton says.
"It's really nice to see that families are interested in doing something different together when preparing."
This was echoed by Lee Erickson, mother of two girls — Stella and Lydia Schwarz — who have had their business Barn Boards With Hooks at Bratz Biz for the last two years.
"The girls run the power drill but I don't let them run the saw. They do the measuring and layout, we do the cut and they attach the hooks themselves," Erickson says. "Often on a weekend day, four of us are working together, because their dad helps also."
All participating children will take part in a workshop on selling and customer service that takes place this week at Nita Lake Lodge.
The executive director of the Whistler Arts Council (WAC), Doti Niedermayer, said shoppers can expect the same high-quality work for sale at Bizarre Bazaar, now in its 26th year.
"It continues to be important in that there are very few opportunities for artists and artisans to sell their wares as products," Niedermayer says.
"Bizarre Bazaar offers the chance to sell handmade wares to the community and also to visitors to Whistler.
"Over the years it has been known as a community event and that is the value of it. We see teenagers buying gifts for $10 and the community event aspect is why we have entertainment and a café, activities for children and Santa. It's a community gathering place."
It's also an important vehicle for the artists to sell; there is currently no crafts and artisans storefront in the resort.
New this year is Frostbites, a small-batch crafted fruit and botanical syrups and cordials to be used in making sodas, cocktails and snow cones; and Magda Garbacz — Picnik Designs, clothing, hoodies, tees, cardigans, leggings, and scarves.
Returning favourites include artists Vanessa Stark and Tom White. Stark has participated in Bizarre Bazaar for the past 11 years, selling original paintings and fine art greeting cards. White sells silverware jewelry made from vintage cutlery.
The Whistler Singers and the Whistler Children's Chorus are providing entertainment.
WAC is looking for volunteers to assist with the event. A number of openings are available in areas such as front entry, set-up and décor, silent auction, vendor support, event support, and coordinating customer feedback. Volunteers can sign up at www.artswhistler.com/get-involved.
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