for the Washington Post's FW magazine
Winterfest at Tyson's Corner is in full swing on the brand new outdoor plaza, with ice skating, live music, brats and beer and mugs of hot mulled Glühwein.
It's Bavaria on the new Silver Line, which scoots you out in about thirty minutes from Metro Center, and deposits you on a footbridge to a fairytale.
Bob Maurer, the marketing director at Tyson's Corner Center, is no stranger to creating fantasy worlds in Washington. He was the impresario behind Union Station's long collaboration with Norway, which brought model trains, a huge tree, and wonderful crafts and music to those gilded halls.
At Tysons he collaborated with Käthe Wohlfahrt, of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a company nearly synonymous with Christmas in Germany, that has created snow globe scenes in major cities around the world, from Tokyo, to Paris, and now to our Emerald City of Shopping.
Wohlfhart's vast tent is set in a wonderland of trees, 18 of them surrounding a 52 foot behemoth, offering a shimmering light show at dusk, synced to music piped in on weekdays, and featuring jazz and choral groups live on weekends.
Within the tent are collectibles and delectable's from Germany, many of them hand crafted: blown glass ornaments, miniatures, music boxes, nutcrackers, those clever Christmas carousels that rotate by the heat of candles, and buttery, fruit-filled stollen.
Thirty more tents dot the plaza, with local artists and craftspeople offering marzipan-fancy soaps, hand tooled leather bracelets, fiber art, and vendors from around the world adding an eclectic mix of fair trade goods including pashminas from Turkey, brilliantly colored jewelry from Colombia, and cheese boards from Tunesia.
The craft tents are organized by Mike Berman, who also brings the marvelous holiday fair to downtown DC each year. This one is different he says, more gift centered and in line with the high quality items one would expect to find within the Mall shops.
It's an odd confluence, perhaps; a mall hosting an outdoor festival. But it's all about introducing (or reintroducing) Washingtonians to the pleasure of congregating with friends in the frosty air, taking a spin on the 5200 square foot ice rink, and celebrating the season. If the weather's too brisk, 300 toasty shops and restaurants, plus the movies, await.
And for a true miracle of the season, Tyson's concierge can deliver all of your parcels from any shop -- or tent -- in the Mall to any place within ten miles, on the same day, for five bucks. No drones involved, yet.