Graphic by Sabrina Lin

As the semester quickly comes to an end during the busiest time of the year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the piles of coffee stained study notes and to do lists. Between exams, holiday shopping and all the other things on your plate, it’s important to carve out some time to enjoy yourself. As Hamilton transforms into a winter wonderland, now is the perfect time to check out all the fun events happening across the city.

Close to home

Holiday Market at McMaster

The Phoenix Bar and Grill will be hosting the first ever Holiday Market on campus. The patio will be decked out in twinkling lights and local vendors. Complete your holiday shopping while sipping on hot drinks and snacking on festive treats, or get creative at the crafts stations to make your own festive arts. No holiday market is complete without a photo with McMaster’s very own Santa. Entry to the market is free but make sure to bring cash for shopping at the vendors!

Craftadian Christmas Market

Looking for a lovely homemade gift that you don’t have to make yourself? Check out the Craftadian Christmas Market on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at McMaster Innovation Park. Over 80 local makers will be there selling unique and beautiful gift ideas, from a toy for your baby cousin to a scarf for your Secret Santa pick.

Winter Wander in Westdale

Head down to Westdale on Dec. 7 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for some wintry fun. There will be live music and entertainment, a vendor market at the Westdale Public Library, horse and carriage rides and late night shopping.

Locke Street

Into the Abyss December Shopshows

Record store Into the Abyss is putting on two of its intimate in-shop shows during December. Head down to the store on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. to see Toronto singer-songwriter Adrian Underhill, Montreal pop duo, Best Fern and Hamilton singer-songwriter, Gareth Inkster. On Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., the set list includes Toronto songwriter and poet Steven Lambke and duo Construction and Destruction will perform in celebration of their joint EP. Hamilton’s own Wish Coin will also be performing.

Downtown

Feminist Trivia Night

Looking for some feminist fun that supports a good cause? On Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., take a night off studying and attend Broad Conversations’ Feminist Trivia Night hosted at Toast Wine Bar. Admission is PWYC with 100 per cent of the proceeds being donated to Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton Area). Open to everyone, this is a great chance to unwind with your friends and win some cool team prizes!

Gore Park Ferris Wheel

The Christmas Ferris wheel in Gore Park will be up through the entirety of exam season, from Dec. 7 to Dec. 23. Taking a free ride on the Ferris wheel makes the perfect downtown study break, providing both a layback outing and a spectacular view of downtown Hamilton. Stop by Redchurch Café and Gallery for a warm drink and stroll through their latest exhibit.

Hamilton Downtown Christmas Market

Head down to Gore Park between Dec. 7 and Dec. 9 for the annual Christmas market. On the opening Friday, the market will kick off with the Christmas tree lighting at 5 p.m. and there will also be free live music from the Troy Harmer band. Throughout the rest of the weekend, check out local vendors such as Red Church Café, Toast Wine Bar, Collective Arts, Hamont Doodles and Hamilton Hobos. In addition, there will be a fully licensed mulled wine and hot cider bar, DJs playing throughout the weekend, a mistletoe kissing station and much more. The best part is that entrance to the market is free.

Crystal Mala Bracelet Workshop

On Dec. 8 at 2 p.m., check out this workshop for a chance to create your own semi-precious stone or crystal bracelet to aide in mindfulness and personal growth. The history of this process, how to care for your bracelet and the stone options will be explained in a booklet given at the workshop. In addition to making the bracelets, the workshop will begin with a guided mediation. The workshop cost $15 for the bracelet and a hand sewn bag to store it in. If you want to make more than one bracelet, additional bracelets cost $8. If you’re thinking this would make a perfect gift for someone, you can get your bracelet gift wrapped for $4.

Polyester Queersmas Party

On Dec. 15 from 9 p.m to 2:30 a.m. Polyester will be hosting a drag show and dance party at This Ain’t Hollywood as part of their monthly events in Hamilton. The show will feature drag performances by Beautiful Baby Bel Bel. A mix of pop, house, remixes and beloved Christmas jams will be included in DJ sets by Rosé and Mia. Polyester hosts positive and safe party environments that are open to everyone. Cover is $10.

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An abyss is dark and bottomless. It’s a mysterious place where it’s easy to get lost in nostalgia and deep thoughts. The new record shop on the corner of Locke Street South and Canada Street is just that, but with white walls and friendly faces that will greet you with open arms.

After two years of thinking about opening a record shop, Brad Germain and his wife, Jenni Germain, softly opened Into the Abyss during the Locke Street Festival earlier in September.

Their passion for music and desire to do things their own way while still having fun, drove the couple to open up their own shop.

Brad, who can easily be recognized by record-shopping regulars, worked at Cheapies, the oldest record shop in Hamilton, for 18 years.

“It was a great learning experience… I’ll be forever grateful to the owner at Cheapies for teaching me so much of the business and how to do it… But I think you get to a point in your life when you just want to do your own thing,” said Brad.

Brad’s life revolves around music. He loves listening to records and talking to his customers about different kinds of music.

It’s something others can share with him, so that he can learn about their cultures and experiences, in turn, others can learn about him and his interests.

“In divisive times, any chance that you have to bridge the gap in communication and the gap in understanding between people, you really have to try and take it… That’s why I’m so passionate about music. I can see how important it is… It’s a joyous thing to be able to do. It’s a great way to bring people together,” explained Brad.

Into the Abyss’ selection reflects the message of bringing people together.

The Germains ensure their selection is unique by putting records in their store that have never sold before in the city and focusing on music that is under represented in Hamilton.

While music-lovers can still find popular and sought-out vintage records on the shelves, Into the Abyss also encourages customers to introduce themselves to music beyond Western rock.

Customers can explore records from places like Latin America and Africa, whole also being able to pick up ambient and avant-garde records from the likes of Brain Eno and William Basinski.

Into the Abyss is not only a place for music lovers, the space also includes a selection of vintage clothing and trendy Into the Abyss merchandise. Jenni is currently working on designing and manufacturing her own clothing, which will soon hit the shop’s shelves.

A friend of the Germains is also designing tie-dye shirts, hoodies and adult onesies. And the work of other artist friends, such as Sarah Froese, who handcrafts printed matter using an antique press, will also be sold.

“You can mix up the experience, it’s for music fans but it’s also for friends of music fans,” said Brad.

Into the Abyss also aims to be a place Hamiltonians and especially young people, can feel comfortable in.

Brad believes that record stores are a place to make new friends, while also being the kind of place people can get lost in and feed their imagination and sense of wonder.

As for the strange name, Brad chose “Into the Abyss” for many reasons: its uniqueness, its reference to the philosopher Nietzsche, but mostly because it reflects his experience opening up his own shop.

“When you are going out on a limb and going into business for yourself, it really is like going into the unknown, ‘into the abyss’… you are going into a territory that you’ve never been into before and it can be scary and daunting,” explained Brad.

Despite the process being a little scary and the pressure of a profit-driven industry, Brad and Jenni Germain will continue to stay true to themselves, do what they love and run Into the Abyss with a genuine passion for sharing music with others.

Into the Abyss is located on 119 Locke Street South and will be offering a 10 per cent discount to students with a valid McMaster ID on Tuesdays.

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