Experience A European Christmas Market Right In The US At This Popular Midwest City

When the holidays come around and you find yourself craving that quintessential festive scenery, it's easy for visions of magical Christmas towns and villages to come to mind. Oftentimes, these holiday wonderlands are located in Europe and take the form of seasonal Christmas markets. While holiday markets are found across the European continent, Germany is typically pointed to as the epicenter of Christmas market allure with good reason. According to deutschland.de, the largest Christmas market in the country is the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt which welcomes more than 2 million visitors annually.

A trip to Europe over Christmas is certainly tempting when you want to browse handcrafted ornaments, enjoy savory holiday food, and listen to live festive music at a market. However, it's possible you won't have to go that far at all to experience the thrill this year. Instead, you might just find that same European Christmas market charm right in the Midwest when you visit the Christkindlmarket Chicago.

Sitting in the heart of Illinois, the Christkindlmarket Chicago is a modern take on the Christmas markets of the 16th century that visitors flocked to in Nuremberg, Germany. It's a welcoming and illuminating holiday event on Chicago's annual calendar that was first hosted in 1996 and continues to attract visitors and locals alike each year. The idea for the holiday market began with The German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest and today, the event is supported by the City of Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Browse gifts, ornaments, and savory bites

Taking time to get out and explore everything Chicago has to offer is a must whether you're here for the first time or you return each year. That said, if your plans have you in the city during the holiday season, be sure to make Christkindlmarket Chicago your first stop. You'll want to set aside plenty of time to enjoy the market's collection of charming wooden booths that adorn Daley Plaza and are outfitted with colorful Christmas decorations.

Vendors on-site showcase everything from ornaments and crafts to delicious holiday snacks hailing from both the U.S. and Germany to enjoy. When temperatures plummet, you can easily warm up with a glühwein. This warm mulled wine is a traditional favorite in Germany and is often topped off with cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla. You'll also have options to purchase and savor East German bites like potato pancakes, schnitzel, sausages, and currywurst.

The Christkindlmarket Chicago was originally created as a pathway to improve trade and cultural connections between the U.S. and Germany. Today, it's still an event where visitors of all ages can encounter authentic German culture in the Midwest. While you're here, there's a good chance you'll hear German holiday music being played to set the Christmas scene with plenty of European flair. Kids visiting the market can participate in the free Kinder Club where a "passport" provides insightful information on German traditions as they explore market activities and solve riddles along the way.

Create a custom holiday experience

In 2023, the Christkindlmarket Chicago is scheduled to run from November 17 through December 24 at Daley Plaza. If you're not staying in a hotel near the market and will be driving in, there's convenient parking available on North Michigan Avenue at the Grant Park North Garage. From the lot, it's just a short walk over to the plaza and market.

Visitors who attend the Christkindlmarket Chicago won't have to worry about purchasing an entrance ticket before arriving because this annual holiday event is always free of charge. The only exception is if you're planning to attend one of the many special events that are built into the Christmas market experience each year. These include the opening night preview party, the fast entry pass experience, and any of the special receptions on the event calendar. You'll also need to purchase a ticket to participate in Stammtisch. This authentic German tasting and dining experience is enjoyed with family and friends and includes multiple courses of fantastic fare depending on the package you select.

While the Christkindlmarket Chicago is sure to keep you endlessly entertained, there are more Christmas market options to include on your itinerary. Elevate the holiday fun even further by dropping by the Christkindlmarket Aurora which will be held at RiverEdge Park. You can also choose to explore the Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville at Gallagher Way which is part of the city's traditional Winterland event.