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Christkindlmarket: Chicago's Magical Holiday Market

European-style holiday magic in the heart of Chicago.

wooden house shops at Christkindlmarket Chicago

Every city gets a little bit more magical around the holiday season, and Chicago is no exception. Regardless of what traditions you choose to celebrate (or don’t), I still find a lot of joy in a good holiday market or light display. My faux pine tree full of all the ornaments my grandma bought me as a kid has been rebranded as a Yule tree in recent years, but I still love her and the light she brings!


When it comes to the holidays in Chicago, nothing is more iconic than Christkindlmarket.


Christkindlmarket is an annual European-style holiday market that has been a tradition in Chicago for decades. Picture classic wooden houses filled with ornaments, trinkets, gifts, and delicious bavarian foods! The Chicago market has two locations, one downtown in the Loop, and one in Wrigleyville near the baseball stadium.



The Downtown Market


The Downtown location is the classic Chicago Christkindlmarket locale. It’s been running the longest, and it has all the most iconic shops. Think cozy ornament shops that you can walk around in, booths full of German clocks, and the scent of gingerbread and Bavarian spices filling the air.

nesting dolls and ornaments in a shop at Christkindlmarket Chicago

Pros: It’s the classic location, which means it’s the largest and has the most variety! Many of the same vendors come back year after year, so the more years you attend, the more homey and familiar it starts to feel. Be sure to check out my personal favorites: Fehrenbach Black Forest Clocks for those amazing handmade clocks, Glaszauber Lauscha for handmade blown glass ornaments, and Winterborn Alpaca for the softest and warmest scarves you’ve ever seen in your life.


Cons: It’s crowded. Since this is the main location, this market gets properly packed. Like shoulder-to-shoulder trying to see into the booths packed. If you want to visit this location, try to visit on a weekday, and not during the evenings or lunch hours. Or just be prepared. You can still have a good time in the market when it’s crowded, but avoiding the typical free periods can greatly enhance your experience.



The Wrigleyville Market


The Wrigleyville location is a more recent addition to the Christkindlmarket roster, which means it’s a little smaller, but it still packs in the same joy!


a large holiday tree at Christkindlmarket Chicago

Pros: The smaller size means it’s significantly less crowded. You can shop for ornaments, winter gear, and all sorts of gorgeous European holiday market trinkets without feeling like a sardine. Plus, there’s some specialty foods that you can only get at the Wrigleyville location, like Bavarian hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream.


Cons: It’s the second market to hit Chicago’s holiday lineup, so if you’re looking for specific holiday items, the Wrigleyville location may not have them. Check out the Christkindlmarket website for full vendor lists and make the choice for yourself!




Must-Dos at Christkindlmarket Chicago


But regardless of which location you choose to visit, there are two things at Chicago’s Christkindlmarket that you absolutely must do!


  1. Get a warm drink in the annual Christkindlmarket Mug: The best thing about Chicago’s Christkindlmarket is the new collectible mug design they release every year! Every season gets a new design, and each one is distinct. Go several years in a row and you end up with a whole collection. My collection of Christkindlmarket mugs (one for every year I’ve lived in Chicago), is my favorite holiday decoration. I arrange them under my Yule tree with the gifts.

  2. Eat Raclette from Baked Cheese Haus! This amazing eatery has locations at both markets. They serve baguette sandwiches absolutely drenched in freshly melted cheese. If you try one Christkindlmarket treat, make it this one. Trust.



Ready for an amazing Bavarian holiday experience?


Tis the season! No matter what you celebrate, take the time to enjoy the magic of chocolate and cheese!


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Love and Shenanigans,


Andi


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