Christkindlmarket has been a holiday tradition in Chicago since 1996. Modeled after the 16th century holiday markets in Germany, the annual Christmas bazaar in Daley Plaza is a hub for traditional German fare, delightfully warm beverages, charming musical performances and charming holiday vibes that the entire family can enjoy.
Here’s a rundown of what to eat, drink and do at the 25th annual Christkindlmarket Chicago in Daley Plaza, which runs in-person from Nov. 19 to Dec. 24, 2021. And don’t miss Christkindlmarket in Wrigleyville, a smaller family-friendly event at Gallagher Way.
Sip on a hot drink
The Chriskindlmarket’s annual souvenir mug is a must-have for keeping your hands warm and sipping the market’s many hot drink options.
The mug has taken several different forms in recent years, from a boot to a snowman. But getting a mug filled with glühwein (traditional hot spiced wine) from various vendors and strolling throughout the market is a classic Christkindlmarket activity.
There’s also plenty of other warm drinks to enjoy, such as hot chocolate, apple cider, and tea (try TeaGschwendner, Himalayan Chai, or Chiya Chai).
Eat traditional German food
You don’t need to go to Germany to try some of its local fare, from sweet to savory. At Christkindlmarket, you’ll find tons of German street food such as currywurst — German sausage with Indian spices — and kebab at DönerMen. Or try a variety of sausages, plus sauerkraut and potatoes pancakes, at the German Grill.
Dine on schnitzel (thin, breaded and fried meat) and goulash (meat and vegetable stew) at Schnitzel House. You can savor mouth-watering cheeses, like alpine raclette, at Baked Cheese Haus and get your pretzel fix at Stuffed Gourmet Pretzels.
On the sweeter side, Sweet Castle delivers on its name with morsels of chocolate, candy, cookies, stroopwafels, and more. Bienes Honighaus has honey in every form you can imagine (including candy) and Helmut’s Original Austrian Strudel offers their classic sweet pastry. And follow the intoxicating smell to Sweet Swabian, which sells sugar-coated roasted nuts and gingerbread.
Explore all the delicious food and drink options.
Shop handmade and traditional wares
Get a jumpstart on your holiday gift shopping with a wide variety of perfect-for-winter items at any of the Christkindlmarket’s stalls. Find the perfect holiday gift or something to round out your seasonal decor.
- Winterborn Alpaca offer warm and cozy Peruvian sweaters, gloves, stuffed animals, and more. Or find woven scarves and shawls directly from artisans in India at Resham’s.
- Bavarian Workshop, Wooden Treasures, and Frank’s Ornament House will have cheery holiday trinkets and gifts such as cuckoo clocks, hand-crafted animal figurines (including dragons, fairies and gargoyles!), hand-painted pottery, hand-poured candles, puzzles, and ornaments galore.
- Glaszauber Lauscha sells handblown and handpainted ornaments imported from Germany that are sure to become a family heirloom.
- Shop advent calendars, delicately carved wood figurines, and all sorts of stocking stuffers at Bavarian Traditions.
Check out a full list of this year’s artisan vendors.
Catch a fun holiday events
Kick off the season with the annual Christkindlmarket preview party on Nov. 18, 2021. ‘Twas the Night Before Christkindlmarket opens the market for a ticketed group before opening up to the general public, making it a perfect opportunity to dive headfirst into the festivities. Ticket options include food and drink, plus you can witness a ceremony by the Christkind and get in some early shopping.
If you can’t make the preview party, you can still partake in cultural festivities at the market. From chamber choirs and alpine brass bands to giveaways and visits from the Christkind, check the events calendar for more fun and festive activities.