Downtown Evanston hosts month-long Hygge Fest celebration


Zoe Malin/Daily Senior Staffer

Hygge Fest involves events centered around food and drinks, craft workshops and other activities. Most events are ticketed.

Zoe Malin, Reporter

After last year’s inaugural week-long Hygge Fest, Downtown Evanston will expand the program to a month-long celebration in February.

Hygge, a Danish word and concept, emphasizes finding joy in everyday moments and encompasses the feeling of being cozy. Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston, said Hygge Fest is a great way to “get people out of the house” during Evanston’s harsh winter.

Hygge Fest consists of events organized by local businesses, each centered around warm drinks and food, crafts, wellness and community. Coakley said residents showed a lot of interest in the 2019 program, inspiring her to expand Hygge Fest.

She added that February is “not a great month for restaurants and retail” due to the unpredictable, cold weather.

“Hygge Fest encourages people to get out, visit local businesses and have a new experience with them,” Coakley said. “These businesses have a wide variety of offerings and can show that they have a lot going on during the winter.”

To plan Hygge Fest, Coakley said she pitched ideas to interested businesses and worked with owners to finalize plans. Downtown Evanston’s website now has a section featuring a list of all the Hygge Fest events, each of which is linked to an Eventbrite page or business’s website. Additional details can be found on Facebook. Coakley said most events are ticketed and have limited capacities.

Many businesses are coordinating hands-on workshops, teaching attendees skills like creating floral arrangements, calligraphy and knitting. Ayla’s Originals, a jewelry and gift boutique, is leading a workshop called “Beading in the Snug” at Celtic Knot Public House.

Ayla Pizzo, owner, said the ticket pays for beads and alcohol. It includes beading instruction, materials to make a stretchy bracelet, and a glass of beer, wine or a nonalcoholic beverage.

“Beading is a wonderful thing to do when you can’t go outside,” Pizzo said. “Come to the store to get the materials and you’ll have them on hand when you can’t leave the house.”

Local eateries will also host gatherings centered around food or drinks. Patisserie Coralie and Celtic Knot Public House, for example, invite residents to sip on tea and eat snacks at their establishments.

Newport Coffee House will introduce residents to Fika, a Swedish tradition, throughout February. Coakley said Fika is an “essential” part of Hygge. It involves individuals taking a break in their day to enjoy the company of others, sweet treats and warm beverages.

Additional activities include those centered around wellness and self-care at businesses like Grateful Yoga and Creative Coworking. One River School planned a Hygge Pop-Up Market and a family art workshop, too.

As one of the final Hygge Fest celebrations, Downtown Evanston will host an open mic night in a vacant storefront at the corner of Orrington Avenue and Church Street. More details will follow as the date approaches, but it will feature a live band and local artists.

Some business owners that participated last year are continuing the tradition, like Reyes Witt, owner of Assembly Creators Market. This year, she said the store will have candle and enamel jewelry workshops led by experts in the craft. Attendees will leave the workshops with professionally made, customized products.

Witt said she looks forward to her store’s involvement in Hygge Fest, as well as the others put on by Evanston shopkeepers.

“My favorite part of Hygge Fest is that people get to meet the business owners and walk out of the events feeling good,” Witt said. “That’s really what this is all about.”

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