EUROPEAN-STYLE HOLIDAY MARKETS
Rediscover the appeal of holiday shopping at one of the fun outdoor markets that pop up before Christmas. Traditional German markets, called Christkindlmarkt, have been a European staple for centuries, but there's no need to take a transatlantic flight. Many U.S. markets — including some in America’s best Christmas towns — feature German-inspired treats and entertainment, as well as European-style gifts. Here are 20 of the best-known holiday markets across the nation.
WINTER VILLAGE | NEW YORK
This fantastical holiday shopping destination, located by Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, combines free ice skating and more than 125 jewel-box kiosks that seem to sell every holiday gift imaginable, as well as sustenance for hungry shoppers. Winter Village (Oct. 27 to Jan. 2) opens early in the shopping season, giving visitors who are spending the holidays in New York plenty of time to grab goodies.
DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY MARKET | WASHINGTON, D.C.
Located in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery, the Downtown Holiday Market (Nov. 23 to Dec. 23) entices shoppers with lively seasonal music and entertainment as well as more than 150 regional artisans, crafters, and boutique businesses. Now in its 14th year, the market is the place to go for everything from antiques to textiles.
CRAFTBOSTON HOLIDAY SHOW
Fans of unique arts and crafts will want to stop by CraftBoston Holiday Show (Dec. 14-16), an indoor holiday market in the Back Bay neighborhood that features 175 exhibitors, many selling one-of-a-kind wares. Admission is $15.
Stroll the Chicago Loop before the air gets too chilly, then eat and shop to your heart's content at Christkindlmarket Chicago (Nov. 16 to Dec. 24), a traditional German-inspired outdoor market started in 1996. Christkind, a gift-giving angel from German folklore, wanders the grounds greeting children and shoppers as well as reciting a prologue translated from the original German.
CHRISTMAS VILLAGE PHILADELPHIA
Located in the JFK Plaza fronting City Hall, Christmas Village in Philadelphia (Nov. 22 to Dec. 24) is modeled on traditional German holiday markets, complete with a wandering Christkind and Santa. Vendors sell European-inspired Christmas treats such as lebkuchen (gingerbread), glühwein (hot spiced wine), and imported gifts that can be found only at the market.
DENVER CHRISTKINDL MARKET
Now in its 18th year, the Denver Christkindl Market (Nov. 16 to Dec. 23) in Skyline Park features European-inspired food, authentic German music, and plenty of unique gifts to leave under the tree. Pick up free tickets to the daily raffle during Advent for a chance to win food and crafts.
CHRISTMAS VILLAGE | BALTIMORE
Located in the city's Inner Harbor area, Christmas Village in Baltimore (Nov. 22 to Dec. 24) started in 2013 as a sister market to Philadelphia's fair and is already becoming a seasonal must-see. The combination indoor and outdoor market has more than 50 booths selling European-style food, drinks, trinkets, and arts and crafts in wooden huts and a heated festival tent.
EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS MARKET | ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA
The East Plaza at Union Depot is home to St. Paul’s free, outdoor European Christmas Market (Nov. 30-Dec. 2 and Dec. 7-10). The St. Paul area is known for its deep Germanic and Nordic roots, and the annual market is a nod to that heritage. This year’s entertainment includes a Renaissance choral group, a handbell quartet, a high school choir, and reindeer petting for the kids. Festival food treats include spaetzle, brats, pierogi, and Swedish meatballs.
CHRISTKINDLMARKT | BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA
This holiday market has been offering visitors end-of-year cheer for more than two decades in the historic town of Bethlehem. View the wares offered by dozens of artisans, retailers, and food vendors, and enjoy traditional entertainment on weekends Nov. 16 to Dec. 23 (also open Thursdays in December). Ice sculpting and glassblowing demonstrations are free to watch, but visitors pay a daily fee of $10 and $6 for children 6 to 12.
THE GREAT DICKENS CHRISTMAS FAIR | SAN FRANCISCO
Go back in time to Victorian London at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair (weekends between Nov. 17 and Dec. 23) as it turns three acres of San Francisco into a Dickensian fantasy. This event goes beyond holiday gifts to include hundreds of costumed characters singing carols, dancing, and reenacting the famed "A Christmas Carol." There's also plenty of food inspired by old England to try. Entry is $30 for adults and $14 for children 5 to 12.
COLUMBUS CIRCLE HOLIDAY MARKET | NEW YORK
Try a handmade pretzel while browsing Manhattan's Columbus Circle Market (Nov. 28 to Dec. 24), located on the edge of Central Park West. This holiday tradition features about 100 booths filled with artisan gifts and treats galore. The market promotes local, U.S.-made, organic, and fair-trade items.
CINCIDEUTSCH CHRISTKINDLMARKT | CINCINNATI
Cincinnati is holding its 5th annual traditional German market, Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt (weekends between Nov. 22 and Dec. 1) on Fountain Square. Vendors will be offering authentic German fare such as glühwein, as well as unique European-inspired gifts and holiday decorations for sale.
GEORGETOWN CHRISTMAS MARKET | COLORADO
Take in an old-world-style holiday fair set against a stunning backdrop of snowy mountains at Georgetown Christmas Market (Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 8-9). Enjoy hot chestnuts, baked goods, carolers, performers, and a visit from jolly old St. Nick while shopping for the perfect gifts for all those on your list.
CARMEL CHRISTKINDLMARKT | INDIANA
Indianapolis’ northside neighbor is home to a Christkindlmarkt (Nov. 18-Dec. 23) that features entertainment like alphorn performances, brass bands, and polka dancing, as well as hearty German fare. Visitors to this Hoosier winter wonderland can also enjoy ice skating. Admission to the market is free, but there are fees for skate rental and rink use.
UNION SQUARE HOLIDAY MARKET | NEW YORK
Want a socially conscious gift? Union Square Holiday Market (Nov. 15 to Dec. 24) in Manhattan lets sellers apply Artisan Pledge stickers to products that meet an earth-friendly standard. Visit any of the more than 150 booths, grab a snack from vendors such as Doughnuttery, or just enjoy the positive vibe.
OLD WORLD CHRISTMAS MARKET | ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN
Take a break from the seasonal hustle and bustle to visit this European-style market at the lovely Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. What makes the Old World Christmas Market (Nov. 30-Dec. 9) unique is that it's both a market and a getaway — visitors can book family-friendly packages that feature sleigh rides, children's holiday craft workshops, and more. Admission is $7 per adult, and kids 14 and under are free with paid adult admission.
CHRISTKINDLMARKT | HELEN, GEORGIA
This traditional Christkindlmarkt gives Southerners a chance to get their dose of European holiday markets in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Now in its 10th year, the event runs the first two weekends of December (Dec. 1-2 and 8-9) and features everything from gifts and holiday decorations to a variety of sweet and savory foods.
PEOPLES GAS HOLIDAY MARKET | PITTSBURGH
Shoppers at Peoples Gas Holiday Market (Nov. 16 to Dec. 23) can browse gifts and indulge in treats as they walk among chalet-style vendor booths. The price of a photo with Santa is a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
MIFFLINBURG CHRISTKINDL MARKET | PENNSYLVANIA
The Mifflinburg Christkindl Market runs only the weekend of Dec. 13-15, but those few days are packed with holiday tradition. Enjoy perusing holiday items while snacking on roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, and German sausage.
TOMBALL GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKET, TEXAS
The traditional holiday market gets a Texas twist at the Tomball German Christmas Market (Dec. 7-9). Tomball, the sister city to the German town Telgte, offers free parking and shuttle service to the site. This year's open-air market hosts more than 200 merchants, and polka bands, folk dancing groups, carolers, and yodelers (as well as German beer) will be on tap.