For the fifth year, the Union Depot’s East Plaza will be transformed into European Christmas Market, St. Paul’s version of the classic open-air Christmas markets of central Europe.

Starting at 4 p.m. Friday, the market will feature more than 35 holiday vendors — a 50 percent increase from last year — selling food, drink and locally made and imported items to fill out holiday shopping lists. Two warming tents will be on site for those feeling a bit too frosty.

With downtown St. Paul as a backdrop, visitors strolling among the decorated wooden kiosks will be able to enjoy a hot glühwein (mulled wine), nosh on a fresh crêpe or bratwurst and top it off with some European sweets.

There will be carols, Santas and live reindeer. The North Pole Express will also offer rides at the train platform. The Union Depot Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Scheduled performers on opening weekend include the Hill-Murray School Choir, accordionist Mark Stillman, the Minnesota Chorale, 7Days A Cappella, St. Catherine University’s “Femme Vocale” and the Peer Gynt Dancers. Children’s author Anne Brataas will host free craft sessions.

An estimated 30,000 people visited the market last year, and organizers said they expect to top that this year.

Market days and times are:

• Friday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

• Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

• Friday, Dec. 7, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

• Saturday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Sunday, Dec. 9, noon to 6 p.m.

• Monday, Dec 10, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.