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Yuletide at Devon: European Christmas market meets the Main Line

Bailey Kreszswick / The SPOKE
Holiday spirit: Yuletide at Devon offers a variety of holiday-inspired decor and activities. European Christmas Markets inspired founder Jes Bickhart to bring a similar combination of food, vendors and activities to the Main Line. The event will be open until Dec. 31.

By Bailey Kreszswick, Staff Reporter

Featuring a 2,000-square foot stage, 1,000 trees, 150 propane heaters and 20 fire pits, nearly three million LED lights light up Yuletide at Devon this holiday season.

After owning and selling a technology company, community member Jes Bickhart and his father decided to use their spare time to plan and create a festival inspired by European Christmas markets for the local Main Line community. This year, from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31, amusement rides, live music, farm-to-table food and numerous vendors for people of all ages fill the Devon Horse Show and Country Fairgrounds five days a week.

“Imagine you’re bundled up, you have a scarf and mittens on, you are drinking hot chocolate, you’re riding a Ferris wheel or merry-go-round, you’re taking pictures with your friends, you’re getting your photos with Santa and you’re roasting s’mores over an open fire pit. This whole idea of the Christmas market meets a high-end food and beverage experience is what we were going for,” Bickhart said.

When driving through Devon and noticing all the lights off from October to April, Bickhart thought a space like the Devon Horse Show and Country Fairgrounds had a lot of potential to be utilized for other events. Although similar markets exist in  urban areas, Bickhart wanted to localize the concept.

“The Christmas markets in Philly are wonderful, but how great would it be if we could activate a space on the Main Line?” Bickhart said.

European Christmas Markets, which Bickhart first visited when he was studying abroad in Germany during his junior year of college, originally inspired Yuletide at Devon. Bickhart felt the multi-generational family atmosphere and rich history of the various locations in Europe brought out the Christmas spirit and joy for all people who chose to attend the markets.

“The thing that I find so interesting about European Christmas markets and one of the reasons they’re so magical is because of the settings right there in these towns and villages in Europe that haven’t been touched for 500 years. The history there is so essential in creating that festive atmosphere,” Bickhart said.

When creating the name “Yuletide,” Bickhart and his father both thought the word represented all religions and therefore created a non-evangelical event, further fufilling their goal to cater to all communities in the area.

Yuletide at Devon features a wide variety of live music from nationally-known performers, like Jamie Miller and Chris Lane, and offers a variety of high-end food and beverage experiences, including items like truffle mac and cheese and gourmet hot chocolate. It also offers entertainment, including amusement park rides, pictures with Santa, small business vendors and more than 15 acres of light displays.

Senior Chloe Campbell, is working at different vendors and attractions throughout Yuletide at Devon. Campbell works with children and adults on different art projects and sells art pieces from Wayne Art Center.

“I think Yuletide and all the individual vendors have done a really good job of promoting the event,” Campbell said. “I feel I talked to people, and everyone knows what it is. So, I’m hoping that it’ll be very busy and lively. I’m hoping to see everyone get increasingly excited for Christmas and the holidays, so it’ll be more of a vibrant experience.”

Tickets are available as either single-day admission or season passes.  Both options include access to live music, free amusement rides, free photos with Santa, farm-to-table food and craft drinks and access to more than 35 unique high-end vendors. Bickhart hopes that the range of activities offered enables people to return to the event multiple times.

“Our goal is to create this magical holiday space that feels high end,” Bickhart said. “Hopefully people want to come back to multiple nights because they just enjoy seeing their community, seeing their friends and experiencing the joys of the holidays with their family.”

Bailey Kreszswick can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Bailey Kreszswick, Staff Reporter
Bailey Kreszswick is a junior and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. For the past two years, she has been covering stories focused on sports and student life in Conestoga and the greater community. Outside of The Spoke, Bailey enjoys sailing for the Conestoga Sailing team.