Vilnius launched its Christmas market on November 26, resuming the tradition that was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite inflation, sellers say business is going fine and visitors are happy to pay up to 8 euros for a serving of mulled wine.
Karolina, who runs a stand in the Christmas Market of Vilnius, says the first few days have been quite successful.
“We produce roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and compote. This is not the first year we have been here,” she tells LRT.lt
She assures that she has not raised prices this year in line with inflation.
“Customers buy everything, especially wine. They also like hot chocolate, coffee, tea – everything. Over the weekend, there were even more people,” she comments.
Mulled wine is priced between 4 and 8 euros, depending on the size of the cup, roasted chestnuts are 4 euros, coffee is 2.50 euros, hot chocolate is 3 to 5 euros and ginger tea is priced at 3 euros.
Another retailer says there are fewer customers in the evening and more during the day.
“We sell wine, kisel, we have white chocolate, dark chocolate, apple punch, cocoa for children. Prices range from 4 to 6 euros. We also bake doughnuts on the spot, which cost 5-7 euros,” says the man.
Retailer Paulius tells LRT.lt that the best way to tell how they are doing is by listening to the sound of frying hot ice cream.
“It’s good. We sell fried ice cream, mulled wine and gluhklinad – a non-alcoholic Christmas drink. The prices are generally good for both the buyer and the seller. Balance is key,” he smiles.
Paulius is trying to make his hot ice-cream a new Christmas market staple.
“We roll the ice cream into a ball, dip it in sugar, peanuts and cornflakes. Then we freeze it about four times and we’re ready to throw it into hot oil. If any part of the boll is pierced through, it starts to sizzle violently. The ice-cream looks like the Little Prince’s planet. Or Chicken Kyiv,” he laughs.
Paulius has been selling hot ice-cream for four years now and customers keep coming back.
“The ice cream stays cold inside. As in everything in life, harmony is the most important thing. Hot and cold are one, filling our hearts with warmth and love. Look how beautiful the tree is, how beautiful the cake is, the celebration, the people walking around, rejoicing, celebrating,” Paulius says.
Karolina, another Christmas market seller, says that trade is going well so far.
“We sell Christmas trees, wreaths and candles. The prices vary depending on the size and decorations. The price of a wreath would be around 30 euros. Candles come in different shapes,” she says.
On November 28, business was a bit slow, but there were quite many people over the weekend, Karolina said.
Jonas, who sold leather goods, told LRT.lt that he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout during the first days of the market.
“I’m sure there were all sorts of fears: diseases, wars and disasters. People came, were interested and bought things. Of course, it was not as easy as I would have liked, but it was still good,” he says.
According to the maker, all the goods he is selling are made by himself.
“I entered the Light Industry Technical College in Vilnius in 1975, studying leather and footwear technology. I’ve been working with footwear and haberdashery ever since, and I also do a bit of fine art. I work with the same material, but the product has changed. Of course, things happen, you get tired of it, you get tired of buckwheat one day. But you can’t just throw it all away, because this is my livelihood,” says Jonas.
Commenting on the prices, he admits that he had to raise them.
“As one Russian comedian used to say: I don’t need money, but everyone keeps demanding it from me. The price of a wallet varies between 30-40 euros, a backpack is around 120-150 euros,” says Jonas.
Paulius Jurgutis, the head of the Vilnius Culture Centre, tells LRT.lt that this year’s Christmas market is spread between three locations: Katedros Square, Kudirkos Square and Odminiu Square.
“The prices for retailers are segmented because there are different categories: souvenirs, food products, and food services with mulled wine. The prices range from 2,200 to 4,200 per spot. It should be noted that the price has not changed much in the last 3-4 years. We will see how this year will pan out,” he says.
According to Jurgutis, there are more retailers interested to participate in the Christmas market than available spots. Therefore, the organisers pick those that better suit the Christmas concept.
“As far as expansion is concerned, the overall context, the purchasing power and the format of the events themselves should probably be taken into account. This year, three venues are planned; next year, we will see,” says Jurgutis. (LRT/Business World Magazine)