Jul 23, 2023

Learn curling at first

Sheet curling at the Downtown Market during a media preview for Christkindl Markt in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. Curling will be one of the activities at the European-style Christmas market will be held from Nov. 17 to Dec. 23. (Joel Bissell | MLive file photo) Joel Bissell |

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Sick of the summer heat? One upcoming Grand Rapids event is hoping to get folks thinking about the ice.

This November and December, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market will host its first-ever “Christkindl Markt,” a traditional European-style Christmas market from Nov. 17 to Dec. 23.

One of the most highly anticipated events during the Christmas market is a chance to try your hand at curling, the popular winter sport.

Though there won’t be real ice curling sheets at the market, there will be two acrylic versions for both beginners and experts throughout the six-week event.

The acrylic curling sheets will be available for use during market hours, complete with a smaller and lighter version of the typical granite stones used for the game.

“Curling started in Scotland and is known as one of the world’s oldest team sports,” said Kristen Aidif, Christkindl Markt coordinator. “It takes a little bit more strategy and skill than I originally thought. Families can do it, kids can do it, it’s just a great activity.”

Related: Grand Rapids brewery creating specialty beer for first-ever ‘Christkindl Markt’

In professional curling matches, teams of four players each work to slide stones across the ice toward a circular target. Often, team members will use brooms to decrease friction on the ice in the path of the stone. At the end of each round, whichever team’s stone is closest to the center of the target gets the most points.

At the Christkindl Markt, some of those rules will be adapted for a more family-friendly version of the game.

But curling experts will be on hand to show crowds how the professionals do it, with exhibition competitions from members of the Grand Rapids Curling Club.

“We’re just going to talk a little bit about the history and theory of curling, how it works on ice versus the difference on this acrylic surface, and then probably invite people to participate in the real thing,” said Pete Galsworthy, president of the Grand Rapids Curling Club.

Galsworthy said people who get the bug for curling at the Christmas market are welcome to join the curling club’s league, which hold curling lessons and league games at the Kentwood Ice Arena. As the curling season nears, more information about how to join the Grand Rapids Curling Club will be available at

Along with curling, the Christkindl Markt will have a variety of food and gift vendors, including a German-style beer hall with specialty beer crafted by Brewery Vivant.

Related: Cheesemonger, German beer hall planned for Grand Rapids’ first ‘Christkindl Markt’

Some of the gifts from vendors signed up for the market include alpaca fiber accessories, personalized ornaments, jewelry, ceramics and make-your-own terrariums.

Traditional European food will be available at the Christmas market, including raclette cheese, Polish hot dogs and bratwurst, fresh-cut Belgian French fries, latkes and bread bowls full of soup.

Aidif said for this inaugural Christkindl Markt, organizers took inspiration from dozens of European markets they attended while doing research.

“Frankly, I think it was tough pinning down what we wanted to do the first year because there were so many ideas,” she said. “Eventually we want to move this across the city and we want to bring in a skating ribbon.”

More information about the Christkindl Markt is available at

Want more Grand Rapids-area news? Bookmark the local Grand Rapids news page or sign up for the free “3@3 Grand Rapids” daily newsletter.

More from MLive:

Mr. Burger restaurant chain to open its 8th location in Grand Rapids area

Your guide to what’s on the Aug. 8 election ballot in Kent, Ottawa counties

Laser tag, bowling coming to Grand Rapids-area mall

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation. By browsing this site, we may share your information with our social media partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy.