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, delightful warm beverages, musical performances, and charming holiday vibes the entire family can enjoy.
Here’s a rundown of what to eat, drink, and do at the 26th annual Christkindlmarket Chicago in Daley Plaza, which runs from Nov. 18 to Dec. 24, 2022. And don’t miss Christkindlmarket in Wrigleyville, a smaller, family-friendly event at Gallagher Way that runs from Dec. 18 – Dec. 31, 2022.
Sip on a hot drink
The Christkindlmarket’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 through the market is a classic Christkindlmarket activity.
There are also plenty of other warm drinks to enjoy, such as hot chocolate, apple cider, and tea (try Chicago Teahouse, Himalayan Chai, or Chiya Chai).
Eat traditional German food
You don’t need to go to Germany to sample 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 potato 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 mouthwatering 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 its classic sweet pastry. And follow the warm, rich scent of the holiday season 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 jump-start on your holiday gift shopping with a wide variety of perfect-for-winter items at any of the Christkindlmarket stalls. Find the perfect holiday gift or something to round out your seasonal décor.
- Winterborn Alpaca offers 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, handcrafted animal figurines (including dragons, fairies, and gargoyles), hand-painted pottery, hand-poured candles, puzzles, and ornaments galore.
- Glaszauber Lauscha sells handblown and hand-painted ornaments imported from Germany that are sure to become a family heirloom.
- Shop advent calendars, delicately carved wooden figurines, and all sorts of stocking stuffers at Bavarian Tradition.
Check out a full list of this year’s artisan vendors.
Catch fun holiday events
Kick off the season with the annual Christkindlmarket preview party on Nov. 17, 2022. ‘Twas the Night Before Christkindlmarket opens the market for a ticketed group before officially launching for 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 with 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 carollers and The Alpine Brass Quartet to giveaways, ballet performances, and visits from the Christkind, check the events calendar for more fun and festive activities.