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 feature German-inspired treats and entertainment, as well as European-style gifts. Here are 20 of the best-known holiday markets across the nation.
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The East Plaza at Union Depot is home to St. Paul’s free, outdoor European Christmas Market held Friday through Sunday for four weekends starting Nov. 26 and ending Dec. 19. 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 an accordion player, Polish and Norwegian dancers, an old-time organ grinder band, and sled dog rides. Festival food treats include spaetzle, brats, pierogi, and artisan cheeses.
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. 29 to March 6) opens early in the shopping season, giving visitors who are spending the holidays in New York plenty of time to grab goodies.
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Go back in time to Victorian London at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair (weekends between Dec. 4 and Dec. 19) as it turns three acres of San Francisco into a Dickensian fantasy as seen through your windshield. This year is drive-thru only, and entry is $25 per carload. This event goes beyond holiday gifts to include hundreds of costumed characters singing carols, dancing, and reenacting the famed “A Christmas Carol.” Hearty English food is available for purchase by giving your order to a cashier.
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Located in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery, the Downtown Holiday Market (Nov. 19 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 15th year, the market is the place to go for everything from antiques to textiles.
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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 13th year, the event runs the first two weekends of December (Nov. 27-28 and Dec. 4-5) and features everything from gifts and holiday decorations to a variety of sweet and savory foods.
Stroll the Chicago Loop before the air gets too chilly, then eat and shop to your heart’s content at Christkindlmarket Chicago (Nov. 19 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.
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Fans of unique arts and crafts will want to log onto CraftBoston Holiday Show (Nov. 12 – Jan. 30), which has taken its show online due to the pandemic. It’s usually an indoor holiday market in the Back Bay neighborhood that features more than 175 exhibitors, many selling one-of-a-kind wares.
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Now in its 19th year, the Denver Christkindl Market (Nov. 19 to Dec. 23) in downtown’s Skyline Park features European-inspired food, authentic German music, and plenty of unique gifts to leave under the tree.
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Located in the JFK Plaza fronting City Hall, Christmas Village in Philadelphia (Nov. 25 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.
Cincinnati is holding its 23rd annual traditional German market, Germania Christkindlmarkt Nov. 25-7 in Colerain Township. There will be live entertainment, traditional food and drink, and a lantern parade on Saturday. Bring the kids for visits with Santa, Mrs. Claus, St. Nick, and Christkind. Even Krampus will be there, so tell the kids they better be good!
Located in the city’s Inner Harbor area, Christmas Village in Baltimore (Nov. 20 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.
Indianapolis’ northside neighbor is home to a Christkindlmarkt (Nov. 20-Dec. 24) that features entertainment like alphorn performances, woodworking demonstrations, and polka dancing, as well as hearty German fare. There will be more than gift and ornament vendors on hand, and plenty of food vendors offering spätzle, schnitzel, glühwein, Bavarian pretzels, and more. 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.
Take in an old-world-style holiday fair set against a stunning backdrop of snowy mountains at Georgetown Christmas Market (Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12). Enjoy hot chestnuts, baked goods, horse-drawn wagon rides, carolers, performers, and a visit from jolly old St. Nick while shopping for the perfect gifts for all those on your list.
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. 19 to Dec. 19 (also open Thursdays in December). Ice sculpting and glassblowing demonstrations are free to watch, and new in 2019 are outdoor artisan huts, fire pits, and igloos in the Outdoor Village. Visitors pay a daily fee of $10-$12 and children under 5 are free.
Try a handmade pretzel while browsing Manhattan’s Columbus Circle Market (Nov. 29 to Dec. 24), located on the edge of Central Park West. This holiday tradition features about 140 booths filled with artisan gifts and treats galore. The market promotes local, U.S.-made, organic, and fair-trade items.
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 (Dec. 3-12) 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.
Want a socially conscious gift? Union Square Holiday Market (Nov. 18 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 160 booths, grab a snack from vendors such as Sigmund’s Pretzels, or just enjoy the positive vibe.
Shoppers at the 8th annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market (Nov. 19 to Dec. 23) can browse gifts and indulge in treats as they walk among chalet-style vendor booths. This year marks the 10th one for the market.
The traditional holiday market gets a Texas twist at the Tomball German Christmas Market (Dec. 10-12). 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 street performers and a petting zoo (as well as German beer) will be on tap.
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The Mifflinburg Christkindl Market runs only the weekend of Dec. 9-11, but those few days are packed with holiday tradition. Enjoy perusing holiday items while snacking on Christmas breads, goat’s milk goodies, mint hot chocolate, and German sausage.
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