By Randy Yagi
Inspired by the festive Christmas markets of Germany and other European countries, Christkindlmarkts have become a wonderful holiday tradition in America in the past few decades. Presented in a fashion much like the most famous Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt in the German state of Bavaria, the family-friendly Christmas markets can be enjoyed in nearly three dozen cities across America and even a Christmas market is being held at Disney’s Epcot Center in Orlando. While some of the finest Christkindlmarkts have already concluded or just about to conclude for this holiday season, such as the notable Canandaigua Christkindl Market in Upstate New York and the Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake, many others will thankfully continue to operate through Christmas Eve or sometimes longer. For a truly authentic German holiday experience without having to make the trek across the pond to Europe, here are just five of America’s best Christkindlmarkts.
101 Founders Way
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Dates: Nov. 17 through Dec. 23, 2017
Named after the biblical birthplace of Jesus, the City of Bethlehem is celebrating its 25th Christkindlmarkt this holiday season. Located in the Lehigh Valley region of Eastern Pennsylvania, this authentic Christmas market takes place at PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, a 10-acre campus on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant, with both indoor and outdoor venues including the distinctive Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks. Twice named one of the best holiday markets in America, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem is held within four large, heated tents and will feature handcrafted holiday gifts from more than 150 of the finest artisans in the country, as well as great food and holiday drinks, live Christmas music, appearances by Saint Nicholas and other holiday-themed events. Free parking will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis at SteelStacks. Lodging may still be available in the City of Bethlehem, in addition to neighboring Allentown, and includes suggested places like Hyatt Place Bethlehem, Sands Casino Resort and Historic Hotel Bethlehem.
50 W. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Dates: Nov. 17 through Dec. 24, 2017
Chicago’s enormous open-air Christmas festival easily draws over one million visitors from all over the world and this year might be the largest one ever. That’s because in addition to the traditional Christkindlmarket Chicago in Daley Plaza, a second Christkindlmarket is currently taking place in the western suburb of Naperville through December 24 and yet another at the Park at Wrigley, adjacent to the city’s iconic baseball park Wrigley Field. Now in its 22nd year, the Chicago Christmas market is absolutely free, pet-friendly and features an exceptionally large number of vendors, many of which are from Germany, who sell specialty gifts like Christmas ornaments and cuckoo clocks, as well as European and German-inspired food and beverages. Coinciding with the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, Christkindlmarket Chicago is the largest of its kind in the country and visitors are strongly urged to take public transportation at any of its three venues. A number of hotels within walking distance of Daley Plaza may still be available, such as Kimpton Hotel Allegro, Renaissance Chicago and the Alise Chicago.
Christmas Village In Philadelphia
1501 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Dates: Nov. 23 through Dec. 24, 2017
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, visitors can enjoy the magical experience of an authentic German Christkindlmarkt at the Christmas Village in Philadelphia. Located in Center City at the newly renovated LOVE Park, formerly the John F. Kennedy Plaza, Christmas Village is by far Philadelphia’s largest holiday attraction and is expected to exceed its record-breaking attendance of 750,000 visitors from last year. With tremendous views of the towering City Hall, the admission-free Christmas Village showcases more than 80 local and international merchants, including some of the finest Christmas ornament makers in the world, in addition to live music at the main stage, delicious German and other European foods and beverages, and a round of events that includes wine tasting, polka dancing and appearances from St. Nick himself. Many of Philadelphia’s finest hotels are within walking distance such as the Le Méridien and the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, in addition to convenient public transportation access from the 15th St. Station or City Hall/13th St. Station.
Denver Christkindl Market
16th Street Mall & Arapahoe Street
Denver, CO 80202
Dates: Nov. 17 through Dec. 23, 2017
Hosted by the German-American Chamber of Commerce the admission-free Denver Christkindl Market is consistently one of the very best Christmas markets in the country. Held at Skyline Park and across from the famous Daniels & Fisher Clock Tower within Denver’s thriving downtown area, this family and pet friendly holiday event will feature among others, dozens of artisan craft and food and beverage vendors, a Holiday Tent much like an Oktoberfest beer, live entertainment including performances by the Denver Philharmonic and appearances from St. Nikolaus, the Christkind and the fictional holiday character Krampus. Named the Best Festival in Denver, the Denver Christkindl Market also offers an online parking reservation system although public transit will be available the Denver RTD. Some downtown Denver hotels are within walking of the Christmas market, such as the Westin Denver Downtown, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver and the Renaissance Denver Downtown-City Center.
Winter Village At Bryant Park
476 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10018
Dates: Oct. 28, 2017 to Jan. 2, 2018
As America’s largest city, New York has absolutely no shortage of delightful Holiday Markets, including three major locations at Bryant Park, Columbus Circle and Union Square. Although all three are highly recommended, Winter Village at Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan is of particular interest because of its German-styled Holiday Shops, the always-popular, skating rink, pop-up rinkside eatery and a dazzling Christmas tree. Transformed into a veritable winter wonderland, the Bank of America Winter Wonderland at Bryant Park features more than 150 food and artisanal vendors from all over the world at the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park operated by Urban Space and the 17,000-square foot ice skating rink is the only admission-free ice skating rink in New York City, although skate rentals do start at $20. Also known as Manhattan’s Town Square, Bryant Park is within walking distance of the MTA’s Fifth Avenue station and 42nd Street-Bryant Park station. Among the leading hotels close to Bryant Park are Bryant Park Hotel, Hotel Sofitel New York and two historic New York hotels – the Algonquin Hotel and the Knickerbocker.