While sipping on hot mulled wine out of a collectible mug as chestnuts roast on a nearby open fire and Jack Frost really does seem to be nipping at your nose, you would swear you’re in some romantic European city enjoying one of its deeply rooted holiday traditions — the Christmas market. With roots in Germany in the late Middle Ages, the idea of a Christmas market has jumped over the pond to the United States, with many cities and towns offering up those quaint wooden stalls filled with artisan goods as scents of hearty German food fill the air around the holiday season. Head for these cities and towns in the U.S. for a taste of Christmas cheer … and probably a strudel or two.
Melding both German and European traditions, this outdoor market in the Chicago Loop has been a fixture of the holiday season in the Windy City for years. Held in Daley Plaza since 1997, Christkindlmarket Chicago runs from mid-November all the way up to December 24. Not only can you find hand-blown ornaments, classic German nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, and beer steins, but you can sample foods like strudel and glühwein (hot mulled wine). Christkindlmarket Chicago is accented by other events like a Children’s Lantern Parade and live bands. You will be able to find plenty of food and gifts straight from Germany.
Located at City Hall in Philadelphia, Christmas Village takes place from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Offering the authentic charm of a real German Christmas market, the outdoor holiday market brings vendors to over 80 wooden booths and two large tents. You can expect to find authentic European food, ornaments, and arts and crafts from all over the world for purchase. Partnering with the City of Nüremberg in Germany, home to one of the world’s oldest Christmas Markets, Christmas Village in Philadelphia has plenty of bratwurst and mulled wine sloshing about. The village is also located close to several other holiday attractions, including the Rothman Ice Rink and Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market.
Georgetown Christmas Market
For over 55 years, the Colorado mountain town of Georgetown has held its own notable Christmas market called the Georgetown Christmas Market. Spanning two weekends, the event adorns with lights and usually a fine blanket of snow. Lording over 6th Street in town, the market brings roasted chestnuts, holiday shopping, horse-drawn wagon rides, and appearances by St. Nick himself (in his traditional dress). The event also includes a daily procession of Santa Lucia, carolers in Victorian costume, and plenty of Victorian-style items for sale.
Old World Christmas Market
At the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, you might have to blink twice to realize you aren’t at a real German Christmas market. Taking a note from Nüremberg’s Christmas market, the Old World Christmas Market presents a grand heated tent accented by boughs of fresh evergreens. Offering unique and specialty items from international and regional artisans, you can check off your holiday shopping with Czech blown glass ornaments and German hand-carved nutcrackers while satisfying your appetite for a Nüremberg bratwurst. Father Christmas also roams the market throughout its 10 days.
Great Dickens Christmas Fair
If you want to step into a Charles Dickens novel for Christmas, you just need to find some cheap flights to San Francisco and head on over to The Great Dickens Christmas Fair. Centered on the world of Charles Dickens’ Victorian London, the Christmas fair presents over 750 performers interacting with patrons as you feast on hearty food and drink. The three acres of vintage exhibition halls are transformed into lamp-lit streets, theaters, and shops offering one-of-a-kind items. A Bay Area tradition, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair spans five weekends beginning in November.
Have a favorite Christmas market in the US? Share your pick with us in the comments below!