Christkindlmarket is an annual Christmas market in downtown Chicago. It's modeled after the German markets in Nuremberg, Germany, and attracts more than one million visitors per year. It's such a popular Chicago holiday tradition that they added a second location in Naperville in 2015, and a third location in 2017 at the Park at Wrigley.
History of the Christkindlmarket
Chicago's Christkindlmarket traces its roots to the original German festival, which began in Nuremberg in 1545. Four and a half centuries later the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest dreamed of bringing a similar market to Chicago. In 1996 the first market was held on Pioneer Court, and the following year it moved to Daley Plaza, and it's been there ever since.
Shopping at the Christkindlmarket
You can shop to your heart's content at this open-air market. Browse stall after stall of holiday gifts, including toys, decorations, and ornaments. The vendors come from all over the world. Shopkeepers from Germany, Poland, the Ukraine, Peru, Ecuador, and Canada travel to Chicago to be part of the market. You can get hand-painted glass ornaments from Ernstthal, wooden Christmas decorations from Dresden, and traditional Slavic nesting dolls from Kharviv. You can even purchase hand-carved wooden nativity scenes from Bethlehem.
TLTip: The Christkind is an angel that led parades during the holiday season. Traditionally robed in gold and white, she would distribute gifts to children like Santa Claus, even delivering the gifts on December 24 while the kids are still sleeping. You can see Chicago's own Christkind throughout the market.
Food & Drink at the Christkindlmarket
The food and drink at the Christkindlmarket is exactly what you'd expect from a German market. You can get a variety of sausages, sauerkraut, fried potatoes, and potato pancakes. Bratbus from Nurnberg serves recipes that have been handed down for three generations. There's a vendor from Stuttgart that offers noodles and kabobs, and the Schnitzelhaus serves schnitzel. Stop into the Sweet Castle for roasted nuts and gingerbread, as well as chocolates and candy to take home with you. If it gets too cold (hello Chicago winter), you can warm up with tea from TeaGschwendner or some hot spiced wine or Bitburger beer.
Christkindlmarket Dates and Locations
- Daley Plaza, 50 E Washington St
- November 17 - December 24, 2017
- Mon - Thurs 11am to 8pm, Fri - Sun 11am to 9pm
- Naperville, Naper Settlement, 523 S Webster Street
- November 24 - December 24, 2017
- Thursday through Sunday only
- Thursday 11am to 7pm
- Friday - Saturday 11am to 9pm
- Sunday 11am to 6pm
- Also open December 18 - 21 11am to 8pm and December 24 11am to 4pm
- Park at Wrigley, 3637 N Clark St
- November 24 - December 31, 2017
- Sunday through Thursday 11am to 8pm
- Friday and Saturday 11am to 9pm
- December 24 and December 31 11am to 4pm
- December 25 closed
The Christkindlmarket is one of the most cherished of Chicago holiday traditions. Find out why!