From Philly to Chicago, here are 6 of our favorite US Christmas markets
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
One of the best holiday traditions is festive Christmas markets, and while Europe has a longer-standing tradition than the U.S., Christmas markets have become popular across the country thanks to their Instagram-worthiness, selection of handcrafted toys and ornaments and spiced wine galore.
While many local and regional holiday markets looked different last year due to COVID-19, these markets tend to be outdoors which means you can still enjoy them safely as you jump-start your holiday season.
From Chicago to Pittsburgh to New York City, these six U.S. Christmas markets closely replicate the real thing, just in case you can't make it to Europe this year.
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Christkindlmarket in Chicago
Christkindlmarket Chicago, now in its 25th year, sets the standard to the degree that its sponsor, the German American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago, has become the de facto consultant to other cities that aspire to Christkindlmarket greatness. The Chicago market draws 1 million people annually across its two locations in downtown Chicago at Daley Plaza and further north in Wrigleyville.
"The smell of roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst and hot spiced wine, the sound of festive music, and the glimmer of sparkling Christmas ornaments, all in a cozy atmosphere – this is the authentic German-style Christkindlmarket experience," say the organizers. The downtown location is open daily from Nov. 19-Dec. 24, while Wrigleyville goes through Dec. 31; hours vary by location.
Literally meaning “Christ Child Market,” the Christkindlmarket “unites cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm.” Its namesake, the Christkind, is a golden fairy in white robes, i.e., the German equivalent of Santa Claus. First opened in 1996, Christkindlmarket is one of the nation’s oldest German holiday markets and continues to be Chicago's largest open-air Christmas festival; it's a personal favorite of TPG writer Caroline Tanner.
Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Pittsburgh
Now in its 10th year, the Peoples Gas Holiday Market will be held in downtown Pittsburgh's Market Square from Nov. 19 to Dec. 23, excluding Thanksgiving. You can enjoy live music while "weaving through wooden chalets brimming with high-quality gifts and holiday experiences uniquely filled with international flair and local charm."
New to the market this year is a virtual Zoom meeting with Santa, where children can chat with Santa in the North Pole via video chat.
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Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Christmas Village in Philadelphia is back this year for the holiday season at Love Park and City Hall, Nov. 25-Dec. 24, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Here you can "indulge in German delicacies, such as bratwurst, gluhwein, lebkuchen (gingerbread) and more."
While details are still being determined, previously more than 60 vendors were featured, housed in traditional timber booths selling classic holiday treats and authentically made local products, in addition to European ones. You can shop for a variety of international holiday gifts, ornaments, jewelry and high-quality arts and crafts all while enjoying traditional European food, sweets and drinks.
"The unique atmosphere with thousands of lights and the delicious smell of waffles, gingerbread, bratwurst and mulled wine will bring you and your family into the perfect Christmas spirit," says the market.
Texas Christkindl Market in Arlington
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If you're down south, try the Texas Christkindl Market in Arlington, the largest open-air Christmas market in the Southwest, which is inspired by an almost 70-year relationship between Arlington and its sister city, Bad Konigshofen, Germany. Working with its partner Christmas city, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, since 2011, the Texas Christkindl Market aims to bring the European Christmas market experience to the Lone Star State.
The market runs this year from Nov. 18 through Jan. 2 at Choctaw Stadium, where the Texas Rangers normally play baseball. Ahead of the market, be sure to check online for a variety of authentic German holiday recipes -- including gingerbread and mulled wine -- that you can make at home this Christmas.
Leavenworth Christkindlemarkt in Washington
After canceling in 2020, the Leavenworth Christkindlemarkt in Washington state is ready to welcome back visitors over Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 26-28, to celebrate their annual Bavarian-style Christmas market in Front Street Park and in the Leavenworth Festhalle. This city nestled in the Cascade Mountains outside of Seattle is worth a visit on its own. It pays homage to its Bavarian roots all year round with German restaurants, a nutcracker museum and plenty of nearby ski areas and wineries. The Christkindlemarkt is known for its authentic Bavarian foods, handmade arts and crafts and family-friendly Bavarian- and Christmas-themed entertainment.
Union Square Holiday Market in New York City
We saved the best for last -- is there anything like Christmas in New York City? Although NYC has more than one Christmas market to speak of, the Union Square Holiday Market is a favorite among locals and visitors, and it is back this year after being closed in 2020. You can expect more than 100 booths from local merchants completely outdoors. Be sure to stop by this year from Nov. 18-Dec. 24.
If you fancy another holiday market in the city, try Winter Village at Bryant Park, which offers a free ice skating rink, holiday shops and rinkside eats and drinks.
This story is an updated version of an original piece written by Joanne Cleaver.