Winter festival, marketplace planned downtown

Sep. 14—CUMBERLAND — City officials are planning to transform Canal Place into a wonderland scene for a first-ever Cumberland Winter Festival and Market beginning in November.

Taking place on three Saturdays, the event is being sponsored by the Downtown Development Commission and Canal Place. The festival and marketplace will be held Nov. 25, Dec. 2 and Dec. 9 from 5 to 9 p.m. each evening.

Due to ongoing construction in downtown Cumberland, the event will take place at Canal Place, with plans to move the event back to the newly renovated mall when construction is complete.

City officials, in a news release detailing the event, said Canal Place Plaza will be transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with hot chocolate and holiday decorations. "There will be Reindeer Games for families and Making Spirits Bright for adults, ensuring that there is something for everyone," read the release.

Unique holiday gifts from merchants, artisans and food vendors will also be available, as will a gift-wrapping station.

Dee Dee Ritchie, executive director of Canal Place, said the event will be good for patrons of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

"It will take place on the plaza in front of the (railway) station and by the shops," she said. "We'll have heaters for people and a fire pit to roast marshmallows. It will be family friendly.

"All the people coming on and off the train, the businesses will be right there for them. We are not charging anything to the vendors. It will be free electricity."

Melinda Kelleher, executive director of the DDC, said the event is made possible by grants from The Passages of Western Potomac Heritage Area (Canal Place) and the American Rescue Plan Act.

"We would love to see you at the festival and share in the magic of the holiday season, while supporting local businesses and artists," Kelleher said.

The Winter Festival will also feature live music.

"I think it is a wonderful idea while we're in the midst of the construction that is going on," said Larry Jackson, a downtown business owner and DDC board member.

The downtown is currently undergoing a $16 million renovation that includes new streetscape, parklets and utility lines while reinstalling Baltimore Street through the pedestrian mall. Work on the mall is expected to be complete next year.

"Holiday marketplaces are something that you see popping up in a lot of cities," Jackson said. "It gives merchants another option to gain access to people while they are enjoying themselves."

Vendor information will be released in the next couple of weeks with booths reserved at no charge. More information can be found at or the DDC's Facebook page.

Greg Larry is a reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email and follow him on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.