Every year in Chicago’s Daley Plaza on the Magnificent Mile, the Christkindlmarket sets up shop. A traditional German Christmas market modeled after Germany’s Nuremberg market, Christkindl is made of the stuff of sugar plum fairy dreams. The Christkindlmarket is the largest Christmas market in the United States, seeing over 1 million visitors annually. From just before Thanksgiving in November to Christmas Eve, the magic of a European inspired Christmas can be felt. Wooden huts glitter with lights, selling handmade Christmas items as well as German food and drink. Take a stroll in the Christkindlmarket and you’ll be transported somewhere snowy white and full of holiday spirit.
Vendors of all things
The Christkindlmarket is an excellent place to look for small gifts such as European chocolates, glass ornaments, or handmade candles. Many of the vendors come directly from Germany, although one can also find local goods. At busy times at the market you may even see artisans giving demonstrations of how their wares are crafted. Where else could you find such specialities as wood-carved nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, or beer steins? Each vendor is housed in a small, wooden structure that makes walking around the open-air market a feast for the eyes.
Food and drink
Because a trip to any German Christmas market wouldn’t be complete without food, there are a variety of vendors that offer traditional food such as schnitzel, strudel, and my favorite, mulled wine called Glühwein. For 7 USD, you can have a hot spiced wine, which comes with a commemorative mug that you can take home. Spiced nuts served in rolled paper is a great snack for walking around in the winter cold. If you do get too chilled, enter the Grand Timber Haus where you can sit in a warmed hall that is reminiscent of the chalet by the ski slope. In a word, cozy.
. . . And merriment
Nearly every day in the month of December there is a special event going on at the Christkindlmarket. From choirs singing to a visit by Christkind (the giver of gifts who at this market is a golden-haired woman), schedule your visit to coincide with one of these special events. The event schedule can be found on the market’s website. Do note that the busiests times of the market are evenings and weekends when these events take place. Be prepared to be part of the crowd (and sometimes the lines that go with crowds), if you make your visit during these times.
Additionally, if the suburbs are an easier trek for you, the southwest suburb of Naperville has its own market, with information posted on the website (same website as Chicago’s market). This market also has events and is a great option for families who do not want to venture into sometimes chaotic downtown Chicago. Either location you visit will transport you into the holiday season.
Find the Christmas Spirit at Christkindlmarket
Plan on spending about two hours to really enjoy the market. This will allow for enough time to shop and have a snack while you’re there, and perhaps even see a performance! Whether you are a child, or a child at heart, Christkindlmarket is sure to enliven your Christmas spirit.
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