By the end of the summer more than 2,000 people were coming to the Assembled handmade arts market at Assembly Row each weekend. And 13,000 people took in the food trucks, art vendors, music and fireworks at Riverfest at AssemblyRow in September.
That got Andrea Simpson, director of marketing and tourism at Assembly Row, thinking of ways to extend the fun people were having at the weekly markets and special events.
“Everybody that came by said ‘This is fantastic,'” Simpson said of working at the Assembled markets. “It was one of those Saturdays that I was feeling really great about the conversations I was having and I honestly just didn’t want it to end. And I got the idea of doing something around the holiday season.”
Thus Holiday Arts and Eats, a three-day holiday market at Assembly Row happening this weekend, was born. The festive event will host more than 20 of the region’s best food trucks, 60 Etsy vendors and a plethora of activities for the whole family. Simpson was inspired by the European holiday markets where everyone comes to the town square to eat, drink, shop and be merry.
“We’re trying to create a really great weekend no matter what your age category is,” Simpson said.
The festive event kicks off on Friday, December 6 from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. with Holiday Arts and Eats After Dark. This 21-plus event will feature multiple bar areas selling hot wine–a staple at the European holiday markets– and beer as well as food trucks flanking the 12,000-square foot heated tent where the art vendors will be set up. There is a $10 admission fee with additional charges for food and drink.
“At the European holiday markets, one thing you can always expect is warm wine, so I really wanted to have that be part of this whole thing,” Simpson said.
Holiday Arts and Eats will also be open on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8 from noon-6 p.m. with food trucks, the Etsy vendors and live entertainment happening throughout the day. The Saturday and Sunday events are family-friendly and will include an appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus with an opportunity to snap a photo with them, games for all ages and even cookie decorating. Adults get into the market on Saturday and Sunday for $5 and kids younger than 12 are free.
“It’ll be really fun no matter how old you are,” Simpson said. Whether you’re looking for a “really unique holiday gift or want to enjoy all the different types of food the food trucks have, there’s something that’s there for everyone.”
And for the diehard shoppers, there’s an opportunity to get into the market early on Saturday and Sunday. For $15, you can get a VIP experience with early access to the art vendor tent and food trucks from 11 a.m.-noon.
Regular Assembled attendees can expect to see many of their favorite vendors back for Holiday Arts and Eats, though some new regional artisans will be making an appearance as well. The vendors will be bringing back some of their tried-and-true items from Assembled, but also have holiday-specific goods like wreaths and ornaments.
“We have a lot of returning artists that were kind of top picks from the Assembled markets. Some of the top artists that we had throughout the summer were some of the first to sign back on,” Simpson said.
Simpson sees Holiday Arts and Eats as a natural extension of the Assembled markets and other community events happening at Assembly Row as the neighborhood grows.
“We hosted it to start to bring people down and to engage with the community,” Simpson said of Assembled. “A neighborhood’s soul is not created overnight. We have spent the last 18 months really focused on being actively engaged with the community. It really was just about making sure that we were connecting and making sure people know what Assembly Row is growing up to be. We’re fostering that soul, that DNA of what a neighborhood needs. And we try to do that in a fun way.”
Holiday Arts and Eats After Dark
Friday, December 6, 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
21-plus, $10, free parking
Holiday Arts and Eats
Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8, noon-6 p.m.
Adults $5, kids younger than 12 free, free parking
VIP access from 11 a.m.-noon for $15 (tickets available only in advance)