BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – For some, the first day of November is the first day of the holiday season. As people prepare to do their holiday gift shopping, one annual vendor show is back at the BJCC and opening to the public starting Thursday morning.

This is the Christmas Village Festival’s 42nd year and it’s a family tradition for many people involved.

“It was my father who started it, he loved Christmas and he went to Faulkner’s and it started out with about 50 vendors and it’s grown to 700,” said Lisa Fullilove, owner of the show.

Birmingham Christmas Village 2023

Fullilove said it was her dad’s dream to do something merry for the community which led to the start of the Christmas Village Festival. Fullilove said every bit of the exhibition space is used during this show so it can’t hold more than around 720 vendors, which they fill every year.

“It’s a yearlong job, everybody thinks it’s just a few weeks,” says Fullilove. “It takes me a year to get the vendors, the actual set-up takes a year and a half and we have vendors from all over the country.”

Because the show attracts so many vendors, there’s a waitlist for people who want to be a part. That was the case for Francis McFadden, owner of ‘Someplace Special’, who has been a vendor for the last three years after being on the waitlist for years.

“I’ve heard good things about this show and they’re all true. I love this show,” says McFadden.

With a reputation that exceeds itself, even first-time vendors are excited to meet the customers over the next few days and share their passions with more people.

“Started making these as something just to do while I tried to figure out what the next thing was and my wife convinced me to go to a flea market and sell some and I sold a few of them, sold just enough to wet my appetite as it were,” says Shane Knox, owner Knox Handmade Toys. “So we started making some more designs and we started using some better quality wood and four years later, we’re still trying to do it as best we can.”

The Christmas Village Festival is a fun tradition for some customers just as much as it is for some vendors. One mom and her daughters have been coming to the show every year for the last ten years, using it as a time to connect with each other and get some shopping done early.

“I feel like Black Friday is so stressful just because you’re like trying to beat the clock to get those Black Friday deals and so this is kind of just more calm and you can just stroll and enjoy the experience,” says Gracey Edmondson from Trussville.

“We love Christmas. I got that from [my mom], you know she loves Christmas, all of us do,” says Maddy Pennington from Trussville. “It’s a great way to kick off the Christmas season.”

Tickets for the Christmas Village Festival can be bought at the BJCC box office starting Thursday at 10. The show will run through Sunday afternoon.