Cinnamon, chocolate and cloves sting your nostrils, Christmas tunes are faintly heard under a rumble of conversation, twinkling lights illuminate each booth’s unique bundle of holiday goodies — you’ve made it to the Christmas market. These sugar-and-shopping-overloaded festivities are not just for Europeans, although we can thank Germans for bringing the tradition across the Atlantic. Here are some of the jolliest Christmas markets North America can offer!
Glühwein & Gingerbread Galore[caption id="attachment_16966" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Grab some Gluhwein at the Mifflinburg Christkindl Market. Photo by Shane CC BY[/caption]
The Christkindl Market in Mifflinburg, PA. stays true to the German and Austrian Christmas market traditions — complete with fresh gingerbread hearts inscribed with German phrases, spiced hot wine (Glühwein), and giant sausages that would make Bavaria proud. The 2015 Mifflinburg Christkindl Market is open from Dec. 10-12, so don’t miss your chance to eat, drink, shop and be merry.
A twilight evening in Charles Dickens’ London Town[caption id="attachment_16950" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] Party Victorian Style at the Great Dickens Christmas Market. Photo by Mark CC BY[/caption]
Step back into a Victorian London holiday party … in San Francisco, CA. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair transforms SF’s Cow Palace Exhibition halls into the bustling streets of London circa 1850. Roasted chestnuts waft through the air as visitors stroll through over 120,000 square feet of theatrically-lit music halls, pubs, dance floors, and Christmas shops. Don’t miss this years newest addition, London’s Finest Cakes & Puddings uses the finest fixings to create mouth-watering cakes such as Rum Cake, Irish Whisky Cake, Scottish Whisky Cake, and of course the famous English Christmas Pudding!
Don’t miss this year’s fair: Nov. 21st-Dec. 20th.
Let Miss Christkind welcome you[caption id="attachment_16954" align="aligncenter" width="682"] Lights of the Denver Christkindl Market. Photo courtesy of Denver’s Christkindl Market.[/caption]
Denver’s Christkindl Market has the magic of Colorado’s snow-dipped mountaintops to add to its charm plus the ‘Christkind’ (angelic-like Christ child who traditionally brought gifts to children) welcomes you to the market! Denver’s Christkind is chosen based on her German heritage and knowledge of German culture. Staying true to its German and Austrian roots, the market serves up traditional Wienerschnitzel and Apfelstrudel (the best version of apple pie you can imagine) prepared by an Austrian chef! Don’t forget your dancing shoes to tap out to traditional German music and more holiday tunes.
The market lasts from Nov. 21st to Dec. 23rd — that’s plenty of time to go at least once!
See snowy Nuremburg in Chicago[caption id="attachment_16934" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] Try traditional gingerbread at the Chicago Christmas Market. Photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar CC BY[/caption]
Even the frigid temperatures in Illinois don’t keep people away from Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas market. The Christkindlmarket Chicago was inspired by Nuremberg’s Christmas markets which date back to 1545! Make sure you try the Original Sternthaler Glühwein(hot spiced wine) straight from Nuremberg. Between listening to carolers singing Christmas songs in German and vendors coming straight from Germany, plus a few cups of Glühwein, you might leave the market with signifigantly improved bilingual capabilities!
The market opens November 20th and lasts through Christmas Eve.
A modern take on tradition in NYC[caption id="attachment_16936" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] The Columbus Circle Holiday Market. Photo by Liren Chen CC BY[/caption]
Leave it to New York to offer a modern spin on the traditional Christmas market. Head to New York’s iconic Central Park for holiday festivities that will both warm your heart and have you sporting the newest fashion. The Columbus Circle Holiday Market has the twinkling lights and snowy atmosphere you’d expect from a open-air Christmas market — but instead of apfelstrudel, try homemade Turkish and Mexican comfort food. Browse booths showing off artisan crafts like wooden puzzles, jewelry from the latest designers and funky homemade jams like the ‘Drunken Monkey Jam,’ a yummy mixture of banana, lime and Rum!
An authentic Austin Christmas[caption id="attachment_16932" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Armadillo Bazaar In Austin. Photo by David Betts CC BY[/caption]
Cold beer, fine art and of course, live music make up the vibrant Armadillo Christmas Bazaar in Austin, TX. From Dec. 15th-24th guests can explore work from more than 160 artists while listening to one of the 28 musical groups that will be playing live shows throughout the Bazaar. Grab your Austin Eastciders Original cider and enjoy the best Christmas festival in Austin!
A Unique Shopping Experience[caption id="attachment_16986" align="aligncenter" width="960"] The Downtown Holiday Market. Photo courtesy of Downtown Holiday Market Facebook[/caption]
Head to the Nation’s capital for one of the most unique shopping experiences of the holiday season — Downtown Holiday Market in Washington D.C. boasts more than 150 regional artisans, crafters and boutique businesses of ethnically produced goods. Enjoy empanadas or try a delicious Pork-less Piggy Banh Mi sandwich from SexyVegie as you stroll through the collections of photography, jewelry, antiques and handcrafted items. Musical performances range from some good old fashion country blues to traditional holiday tunes.
Festivities for the Downtown Holiday Market begin on Nov. 27th and run through Dec. 23.
Wander through holly-lined aisles & spices[caption id="attachment_16978" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Spices at Union Square Holiday Market. Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt CC BY[/caption]
The Union Square Holiday Market is where you’ll truly get into the holiday spirit. This intimate affair in NYC allows you to chat with environmentally conscious vendors who come from near and far. The aisles are lined with holly and the chill in the air can easily be soothed by any of the cozy mittens, hats and scarves for sale. If you’re still cold, grab a bowl of rich Persian soup or indulge in a hot chocolate with extra whipped cream. Make sure you make it to the Square sometime between Nov. 19th and Christmas Eve to get your Christmas shopping done and to snatch some ‘lebkuchen’, a traditional German gingerbread, handmade by a local company called Leckerlee in NYC.
Hit up the beer gardens this Christmas[caption id="attachment_16946" align="aligncenter" width="939"] Photo courtesy of Toronto’s Christmas Market[/caption]
The Distillery in the Historic District is home to Toronto’s Christmas Market. The freezing nights are not going to be a problem once you warm up to one of the outdoor fires — snuggle up in one of four beer gardens with a glass of Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky or opt for the traditional European-style hot spiced wine. After you’ve knocked back a few to fight off the cold — take the kids over to the life-sized gingerbread house — better yet, don’t bring the kids and take your sweetie to the sculpture entitled “Under the Mistletoe.” Visitors are encouraged to walk inside the heart-shaped sculpture’s arch for a traditional and romantic holiday kiss.
You have from Nov. 20th – Dec. 20th to get your smooch on!
Canada’s original Festival of German Christmas[caption id="attachment_16942" align="aligncenter" width="1194"] Canada’s first German Christmas Market. Photo Courtesy of Kitchener’s Christkindl Market[/caption]
In Kitchener you’ll be welcomed by the oldest and largest German community in Canada and at the Christkindl Market (Dec. 3rd-6th in Kitchener you’ll meet folkloric Christmas characters! Feel free to take a selfie with them and make sure to chat them up in German. There are over 27 bands, choirs, and dance groups (including amazing Alpine dancers) to keep you entertained all night. Head over to Baron Haus Events for some scrumptious apple fritters and then why not hop over to Maple Tap Farm to buy fresh maple syrup, and pretty much anything maple-flavored (do it for Canada!).