With just 40 days until Christmas (can you even believe that?) I thought it was time to open your eyes to some of America’s best Christmas markets. Oh, you thought Christmas markets only existed in Europe? I was right there with you, but some amazing things are happening across America to help you get into the holiday spirit. If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience a Christmas market, it should be on your holiday to-do list. They’re much more personal than going to a shopping mall (you’re getting to meet with and talk to the booth operators) and extremely social. I know you’re eager for the list,
But first, a little bit of History…
Did you know Christmas markets date back to 1298? Crazy, right? Sometimes these are referred to as Christkindlmarkt, Marchè de Noël, Chriskindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, Christkindlimarkt, or Weihnachtsmarkt they were associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of advent. Children were presented with Holy Christkind, an angel clad in white who came bearing a gift from the Christmas markets. Typically seen in Germany, you can now find these types of markets all over the world. Even in America:
Union Square Holiday Market, New York City
Open November 16th – December 24th, this market features more than 100 red and white booths filling up Union Square Park and has become a holiday staple for this area since 1994. Artisanal foods, holiday ornaments, handmade jewelry, and children’s toys fill the booths. Be on the lookout for the “Little Brooklyn” section where you will get some of the borough’s best. A beer lover? Be sure to visit the Brooklyn Brew Shop for do-it-yourself beer kits.
Downtown Holiday Market, Washington DC
Open from November 24th – December 23rd, the Downtown Holiday Market is going on their 13th year of being a hub of holiday spirit in our Nations Capitol. From cinnamon-dusted, cream-filled churros to empanada’s to The Taste of Germany this market exceeds your traditional European foods. Aside from the food more than 150 vendors attend offering art, clothes, craft, jewelry, and specialty items are all on display.
Christkindlmarkt, Bethlehem, PA
Open from November 17th – December 23rd this now iconic Christmas market will be celebrating their 25th year this holiday season. Christened as ‘Bethlehem’ on Christmas Eve 1741, this town boasts one of the most authentic Christmas markets around. Candied almonds, stuffed pretzels, ice carving and glass blowing demonstrations, breakfast with St. Nick, live Christmas music as well as collectibles from Germany all roll together to make this genuinely unforgettable.
Inspired by the 16th century Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany the Chicago version has been around since 1996. This market has now expanded into three locations including Chicago at Daley Plaza, Naperville, and The Park at Wrigley. Known as Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas market that strives to bring European and German flair to the area. If German items are not your thing, you’re in luck. Cuckoo clocks from the Black Forest region, lace from Plauen, glass ornaments from Lauschaer and wood carvings from the Erzgebirge are just some of what you can expect according to the German American Services, Inc., which organizes this event.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco
Celebrating 35 years of transporting you to Victorian London, more than 120,000 square feet is transformed into this period. Operating from November 18th – December 17th, tickets are needed for entry. Once you’re inside, you will feel as if you stepped foot into a Dickens novel. Aside from traditional food, clothes, jewelry, and gifts characters from this period are walking around to mingle with you. Keep your eyes peeled; you might meet Ebenezer Scrooge!
Georgetown Christmas Market, CO
Going on its 57th year of existence this tiny mountain town transforms into your quintessential “Christmas from ages ago.” They offer you a truly traditional Christmas experience with roasted chestnuts, holiday shopping, horse-drawn carriage rides, and Victorian-era carolers. The free event is held the first two weekends of December.
Arlington Christkindl Market, TX
Open from November 24th – December 31st, this market brings a splash of European Christmas flair to Texas. Austrian and Polish pottery, vibrant lantern parades, a Bavarian-themed petting zoo, elves, and handmade clothes from alpaca wool are just some of what you can expect to get at this market. Don’t forget to swing by Santa’s Haus before you leave!
Christmas Village, Philadelphia
Partnering with the city of Nuremberg in Germany, this market transforms LOVE park into the magic of an authentic German Christmas is what Philadelphia has done for the last decade. More than 80 vendors sell authentic European food, ornaments as well as arts and crafts. Don’t worry waffles, bratwurst and, my personal favorite, mulled wine are all on hand from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Don’t forget to grab your German pickle ornament for your tree before you leave!
Denver Christkindl Market
Located in Skyline Park, the Denver Christkindl has been bringing the German spirit to Denver for the last 17 years. German beer steins; pottery from Poland; silk scarves from Kyrgyzstan; amber jewelry from Ukraine are just some of what you can hope for at this gem of a Christmas market. Open from November 17th – December 23rd be sure to come here with an appetite. Bavarian pretzels from Kaiser Bakery, Elk sausage from Andy’s Kitchen and Weiner Schnitzel from Chef Neuhold are all at your disposal. Are you hungry yet?
Winter Village at Bryant Park, New York City
I know, New York City is on here twice but as it turns out the city that never sleeps, also does Christmas incredibly well. The Rink is the centerpiece of the winter village, and it offers the only free skate admission within the city. Staring the Empire State Building in the face, this winter village provides 125 boutique shops and seasonal food options along the beautiful tree-lined paths that make Bryant Park a midtown treasure.
Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt, Cincinnati, OH
One of the real epitomes of a German Christmas market here in the states. For the past six years the organizers, a group of German-speaking Cincinnatians, strive to bring their German culture and heritage to their community. Open Fridays and Saturdays beginning on November 24th you can expect Santa and his elves, traditional cross-timbered booths decked out in lights while artisans sell handcrafted goods. Don’t leave without trying the Spicy glühwein; it’s made from scratch!
Christmas Village, Baltimore, MD
Located at West Shore Park in the Inner Harbor, this village is modeled after Nuremberg’s famous Christkindlesmarkt. 2017 will mark the fifth year; this market is open from November 23rd – December 24th and features over 50 vendors from all over the world. Russian Christmas ornaments, Ukranian embroidered clothing items, ornaments and decor from Käthe Wohlfahrt, Hofbrau beers imported directly from Munich and lebkuchen are not to be missed. Santa will be on hand for the littles or those of us who are young at heart.
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