Christkindlmarkts right here at home
Monday, December 10, 2018
Europe, and Germany in particular, is justly famous for its colorful Christkindlmarkts (Christ Child or Christmas markets, also spelled Kristkindlmarkt). In Germany alone, there are more than 2,000 Christmas markets. The earliest recorded Christkindlmarkt was held in 1434 in Dresden, which still today boasts one of Europe’s largest and most beautiful markets.
These holiday markets usually start around the end of November, continue until Christmas Eve and follow a similar pattern: they are outdoors and typically feature food and drink, music, arts and crafts and a big dose of gemütlichkeit (comfortable, friendly ambience).
Being a nation founded and largely settled by European immigrants, it’s not surprising that the Christmas market tradition is alive and well here in the U.S. Here are five of them that best capture the traditional old-world spirit of the Christkindlmarkt:
Christkindlmarket Chicago, Chicago
The Windy City is home to America’s largest and best-known Christmas market. Now in its 23rd year, this holiday festival commenced November 16 and is set to run through December 24. Nothing has been spared to make this as authentic an experience as possible.
The red-and-white striped booths typical of the Nuremberg, Germany market are re-created here and there’s row upon row of booths displaying hand-blown and painted ornaments, toys, jewelry and other holiday goods — plus traditional German food and drink, including bratwurst, sauerkraut, wiener schnitzel, stollen, lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies) and glühwein (hot mulled wine).
Denver Christkindl Market, Denver
Denver’s inviting 16th Street pedestrian mall has been the scene of this festive Christmas celebration (November 16 to December 23) since 2000 and it gets bigger and better every year.
Dance to live German music (polka anyone?), shop from European craft vendors hawking everything from ornaments to wooden toys, and feast on authentic German and Central European bites, ranging from knödel (boiled dumplings) to strudel and roasted nuts to craft chocolates.
Christmas Village, Baltimore
Experience the magic of an authentic German-style Christmas market at West Shore Park in Baltimore’s visitor-friendly Inner Harbor. Live holiday entertainment radiates from a pair of stages and more than 50 vendors display seasonal arts and crafts.
Enjoy noshing from a full menu of European foods, including bratwurst, speck (smoked ham), potato latkes, schnitzel and a variety of baked goods and sweets.
Union Square Holiday Market, New York City
It’s easy to get swept up in the festive spirit of the holidays at the internationally renowned Union Square Holiday Market, nestled in the heart of New York City. From mid-November until Christmas this annual event in Union Square attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.
Shoppers browse more than 100 vendor booths to search out unique gifts created by local crafters and artists — and there’s an entire section of the market devoted to food and drink, with offerings as varied as the ethnic makeup of the Big Apple.
Christmas Village, Philadelphia
The City of Brotherly Love hosts one of the nation’s largest and most authentic German-style Christmas markets — returning this year to the newly renovated LOVE Park for its 11th season.
The month-long (November 22-December 24) festival transforms the park (at 1500 Arch Street) into a holiday wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights, festive Christmas decorations, live music, shopping, children’s activities and enormous quantities of food and drink. Check the event website for entertainment rosters, wine and beer tastings, themed weekends and more.
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