20 Festive Holiday Markets to Visit Across America
Rediscover the appeal of holiday shopping at one of the fun outdoor markets that pop up before Christmas. Traditional German markets, called Christkindlmarkt, have been a European staple for centuries, but there's no need to take a transatlantic flight. Many U.S. markets feature German-inspired treats and entertainment, as well as European-style gifts. Here are 20 of the best-known holiday markets across the nation.
Related: The Early Bird's Guide to Holiday Shopping
This fantastical holiday shopping destination, located by Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, combines free ice skating and more than 125 jewel-box kiosks that seem to sell every holiday gift imaginable, as well as sustenance for hungry shoppers. Winter Village (Oct. 29 to Jan. 2) opens early in the shopping season, giving visitors plenty of time to grab goodies.
Related: 20 Free (or Nearly Free) Ways to Enjoy the Holidays in New York
Located in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery, the Downtown Holiday Market (Nov. 25 to Dec. 23) entices shoppers with lively seasonal music and entertainment as well as more than 150 regional artisans, crafters, and boutique businesses. Now in its 12th year, the market is the place to go for everything from antiques to textiles.
Fans of unique arts and crafts will want to stop by CraftBoston Holiday Show (Dec. 2-4), an indoor holiday market in the Back Bay neighborhood that features 175 exhibitors, many selling one-of-a-kind wares. Print and present the web page to save $3 on admission ($15 general, $12 senior).
Stroll the Chicago Loop before the air gets too chilly, then eat and shop to your heart's content at Christkindlmarket Chicago (Nov. 18 to Dec. 24), a traditional German-inspired outdoor market started in 1996. Christkind, a gift-giving angel from German folklore, wanders the grounds greeting children and shoppers as well as reciting a prologue translated from the original German.
Located in the JFK Plaza fronting City Hall, Christmas Village Philadelphia (Nov. 24 to Dec. 24) is modeled on traditional German holiday markets, complete with a wandering Christkind and Santa. Vendors sell European-inspired Christmas treats such as lebkuchen (gingerbread), glühwein (hot spiced wine), and imported gifts that can be found only at the market.
Now in its 16th year, the Denver Christkindl Market (Nov. 18 to Dec. 23) in Skyline Park features European-inspired food, authentic German music, and plenty of unique gifts to leave under the tree. Pick up free tickets to the daily raffle during Advent for a chance to win food and crafts.
Located in the city's Inner Harbor area, Christmas Village in Baltimore (Nov. 24 to Dec. 24) started in 2013 as a sister market to Philadelphia's fair and is already becoming a seasonal must-see. The combination indoor and outdoor market has more than 50 booths selling European-style food, drinks, trinkets, and arts and crafts in wooden huts and a heated festival tent.
One of the largest open-air holiday markets in the Southwest, Texas Christkindl Market (Nov. 25 to Dec. 23) boasts more than the usual European-style food, drinks, and gifts. This year the family-friendly Arlington destination is introducing Peppermint Park Market, with such small-fry attractions as a holiday train, petting zoo, crafts, and puppet shows. For those who get chilled perusing the market, there's a heated warming hut.
This holiday market has been offering visitors end-of-year cheer for more than two decades in the historic town of Bethlehem. View the wares offered by dozens of artisans, retailers, and food vendors, and enjoy traditional entertainment on weekends Nov. 18 to Dec. 18 (also open Thursdays in December). Ice sculpting and glassblowing demonstrations are free to watch, but visitors pay a daily fee of $9 and $5 for children 6 to 12.
Go back in time to Victorian London at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair (weekends between Nov. 19 and Dec. 18) as it turns three acres of San Francisco into a Dickensian fantasy. This event goes beyond holiday gifts to include hundreds of costumed characters singing carols, dancing, and reenacting the famed "A Christmas Carol." There's also plenty of food inspired by old England to try. Entry is $30 for adults and $14 for children 5 to 12.
Try a handmade pretzel while browsing Manhattan's Columbus Circle Market (Nov. 29 to Dec. 24), located on the edge of Central Park West. This holiday tradition features about 100 booths filled with artisan gifts and treats galore. The market promotes local, U.S.-made, organic, and fair-trade items.
Cincinnati is holding its 5th annual traditional German market, Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt (weekends between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18) on Fountain Square. Vendors will be offering authentic German fare such as glühwein, as well as unique European-inspired gifts and holiday decorations for sale.
Take in an old-world-style holiday fair set against a stunning backdrop of snowy mountains at Georgetown Christmas Market (Dec. 1-2 and 8-9). Enjoy hot chestnuts, baked goods, carolers, performers, and a visit from jolly old St. Nick while shopping for the perfect gifts for all those on your list.
Pacific Northwest residents can get into the seasonal spirit at Leavenworth's 21st annual Bavarian-style holiday market during Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 25-27). The event features the Christkind angel, Santa, and Mrs. Claus, who together usher in the start of the market and the Christmas season. Enjoy holiday gift shopping as well as traditional Bavarian foods.
Want a socially conscious gift? Union Square Holiday Market (Nov. 17 to Dec. 24) in Manhattan lets sellers apply Artisan Pledge stickers to products that meet an earth-friendly standard. Visit any of the more than 150 booths, grab a snack from vendors such as Momofuku Milk Bar, or just enjoy the positive vibe.
Take a break from the seasonal hustle and bustle to visit this European-style market at the lovely Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. What makes the Old World Christmas Market (Dec. 2-11) unique is that it's both a market and a getaway -- visitors can book family-friendly packages that feature sleigh rides, children's holiday craft workshops, and more.
This traditional Christkindlmarkt gives Southerners a chance to get their dose of European holiday markets in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Now in its 9th year, the event runs the first two weekends of December (Dec. 3-4 and 10-11) and features everything from gifts and holiday decorations to a variety of sweet and savory foods.
The Mifflinburg Christkindl Market runs only the weekend of Dec. 8-10, but those few days are packed with holiday tradition. This year Seiffen, Germany, will be the featured city for the market, which will introduce visitors to the holiday woodcraft tradition of this thriving community. Enjoy perusing holiday items while snacking on roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, and German sausage.
The traditional holiday market gets a Texas twist at the Tomball German Christmas Market (Dec. 9-11). Tomball, the sister city to the German town Telgte, offers free parking and shuttle service to the site, plus a petting zoo for kids. This year's open-air market hosts 188 merchants, and bluegrass bands, folk dancing groups, carolers, and cloggers (as well as German beer) will be on tap.