November 21, 2010

Tanger Outlets' Winter Festival

This weekend proved to be a fun one for me. I got to do a few holiday-oriented things that put me in a great mood for the coming season. It all kicked off on Saturday at the Tanger Outlets at the Arches.

Now, I have gone shopping at the new Tanger Outlets a few times and I found the layout to be a little bit confusing. The aisles just seem to meander in all directions giving me the feeling of walking through a maze. It is easy to overlook entire sections of stores. The shops are not visible from the parking lot and it makes for a somewhat isolated shopping experience. Though, what the Outlets lack in layout design is surely made up for in aesthetic quality. The architecture is marvelous. It seems that every corner features beautiful awnings, gardens, and benches. At the center of the complex is the Piazza. During the warm months of the year, the focal point of it is the fountain that stands in front of the cinema spouting steams of water. It is lovely and quite picturesque.

I must say that the Tanger Outlets at the Arches is an ideal location for a winter festival. The open space of the Piazza is easily transformed into a magical holiday wonderland. The spot where the fountain usually looms in all of its watery glory now houses a massive Christmas Tree surrounded by a circular ice-skating rink. A stage is set up that features local choirs, gymnastic acts, performers, musicians, and even heralds the arrival of Santa's sleigh.

With the stage area being so crowded with onlookers, I decided to simply stroll around the plaza to take in all of the little pleasures it offers. First, I came across the balloon artist. I watched in delight as he sculpted elaborate balloon creations in seconds, without even looking at his hands. I got the chance to speak to him and he told me that he has been involved in balloon craft for more than 16 years. It is such a big part of his life that he even sees balloons in his sleeping dreams. Some artists work in paint or clay; this one works with balloons. Very cool...

As I further walked around the Piazza, I encountered all kinds of charming holiday characters. Some of them were tall:

Some of them were small:

There were winter princesses and juggling snow puffs:

The people at the Tanger Outlets definitely know how to throw a Winter Festival! This was a fun, feel-good event. It's kind of ironic that I spent my Saturday at a huge shopping mall and didn't do any shopping. Truth be told, I finished my Christmas shopping before Halloween. What can I say? I'm an early shopper. I actually prefer to get that part of the holiday out of the way before hand. That way, while the stores get more and more crowded in December, I can simply relax and enjoy my favorite season of the year!

By the way, let me turn you on to a Christmas treat that I have been enjoying for a few years now. It's a tea from Bigelow called "Eggnogg'n." I like to make a cup in the evening; I add some sugar and lighten it with a splash of Egg Nog. It's delicious. If you like tea, I recommend this one:

"Sanctify the Lord God
in your hearts..."

~1 Peter 3:15