Anyone who hasn't visited a German Christmas market is seriously missing out. We're talking way better Christmas shopping than you'll ever see in a big box store or mall. They are full of unique ornaments and Christmas gifts from local vendors and obviously filled with German treats including mulled wine (called glühwein) to enjoy while you browse.
The tradition of Christmas markets originated in Germany as early as the 14th century during the four weeks of Advent (yes, as in holiday advent calendar). It is said that Dresden's Striezelmarkt, Frankfurt, and Munich were some of the first in the world. Though replicated in other countries around Europe, Austria's "December market" could actually be the oldest Christmas market since it is said to have originated in 1298. It is also where the beloved character of the Christkind (or Christkindl) was originated as the holiday gift giver.
Today you can visit some of Germany's most famous Christmas markets in Cologne, Berlin, Bavaria, Hamburg, Aachen, and the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, but we've gathered up some of the best Christmas markets across the United States. Originally these markets only featured food and supplies for winter but now they are straight out of a fairytale with gifts and treats galore. Don't forget to grab some lebkuchen (German gingerbread) while you enjoy your Weihnachtsmarkt visit this holiday season.
1. Christkindlemarket in Chicago, Illinois
Why buy a ticket all the way across the pond to the Berlin Christmas Market when you can visit one of the largest Christmas markets in the country. Held in Daley Plaza, this market attracts over one million visitors every year. They even recently expanded to Naper Settlement, Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville, and Milwaukee.
This year the market will be held virtually from November 1 - December 31. You can visit their online store here.
2. Christmas Market in Tomball, Texas
This traditional Christmas market is located right here in the Lone Star State in Old Town Tomball. With that beautiful Christmas tree, this market draws in the crowds every year to visit their estimated 163 unique street vendors.
Typically open annually in mid-December, this market has been canceled this year due to COVID concerns.
3. Christkindlemarkt in Helen, Georgia
This Bavarian village provides the ultimate Christmas charm. Taking place at the Downtown Marktplatz, you'll feel like you stepped right into Berlin as you browse this year's 11th annual event. Try a loaf of stollen (German fruit bread) and enjoy the whimsical architecture and decorations.
Open this year November 28-29 and December 5-6 with free admission.
4. Christkindl Market in Denver, Colorado
This market is put on locally every year by the German American Chamber of Commerce. This year they will feature a "Kinderpunsch," a non-alcoholic Glühwein, to make this market, even more, family-friendly. You can even visit this market in late November, maybe to avoid the crazy holiday crowds?
Open November 20 through December 23, 2020.
5. Christmas City in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Christmas City is one of the most famous Christmas markets in the county. They feature 150 vendors from all over the country as well as ornaments and nutcrackers from Germany. With ice carving and glassblowing presentations and holiday music, this market is not to be missed.
Open November 12-15, 19-22, 27-29, and December 3-6.
6. Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt in Cincinnati, Ohio
Executed every year by the German Society of Cincinnati, this is the oldest traditional German Christmas market in the Cincinnati area. Bonus, it's held under heated tents! They offer a ton of festive entertainment including a petting zoo, carriage rides, and a wide array of German treats and holiday drinks. You can also see Krampus, "the half-goat, half-demon" antithesis of Santa from German folklore if you're into that.
Open November 7-8, 2020.
7. Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Held at The Osthoff Resort, this is one of the most popular Christmas markets in the midwest. Guests can explore the heated tent that features Nuremberg bratwurst, handblown glass ornaments, and more German treats (like strudel!) Grab a traditional Christmas pyramid ornament (Weihnachtspyramide) while you explore.
Open December 3-12, 2021.
8. Winter Village in New York City, New York
Bryant Park in NYC hosts this holiday market which includes free ice skating (the only free skating in the city), yummy snacks, and handicrafts by unique vendors. The Lodge by Urbanspace is a bar and food hall which will also be open for cocktails and food during the busy holiday season.
Open October 30, 2020 - January 3, 2021.
9. Downtown Holiday Market in Washington D.C.
This holiday market in D.C. is a must-visit in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery. There will be over 60 market stalls from various exhibitors.
Open Nov. 20 thru Dec. 23, 2020.
10. Christmas Village in Baltimore, Maryland
This indoor/outdoor market in the Inner Harbor area is modeled after the famous Christkindl Market in Nuremberg. There are over 50 booths with food, drinks, and gifts in wooden huts to keep you occupied all night.
This Christmas Village has canceled in-person visitors due to COVID this year but is offering a virtual shop you can visit here.
11. European Christmas Market in St. Paul, Minnesota
This free Christmas market at The East Plaza at Union Depot really honors the German roots of St. Paul with this annual market. This year visitors will get to pet a Reindeer and go on sled dog team rides.
This Christmas market is offering virtual only this year from November 1st to December 24th. You can visit their online store here.
12. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco, California
This Christmas fair actually takes you back into old London to celebrate the time of the classic author of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens. Costumes, food, and lots of fun.
This event has been canceled in 2020 due to COVID but you can visit their online shop here.
13. Columbus Circle Holiday Market in New York City, New York
Manhattan's Christmas market on the edge of Central Park is a classic holiday tradition with over 100 vendors to visit.
Unfortunately, this market will be closed in 2020 due to COVID but keep them on your list for 2021!
14. Georgetown Christmas Market in Georgetown, Colorado
This tiny mountain town is the perfect way to celebrate the holidays at a holiday market. The hot chestnuts are an annual staple as well as lots of great shopping and other yummy treats. You can also partake in the Christmas Market Museum Tours to see all of the beautiful holiday decorations.
Open annually the first two weekends of December.
15. Carmel Christkindlmarkt in Indianapolis, Indiana
This little winter wonderland in Indianapolis has delicious German food, ice skating, live music, dancing, and more.
Unfortunately, this is another market that has been canceled due to COVID. Check back next year!
16. Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Browse the local vendors for holiday treats or gifts or stop by to visit Santa for a donation that benefits the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Open November 27 through December 23rd, 2020.
17. Epcot International Festival of the Holidays in Orlando, Florida
While Epcot has multiple counties of the world represented, Germany really shines this time of year by turning into a German Christmas market with glühwein (mulled wine) and lots of German food.
Open November 27 - December 30, 2020.
18. Christkindl Market in Arlington, TX
Shop for gifts, listen to holiday music, and take in the stunning Christmas decorations all while snacking on bratwursts, gingerbread, roasted nuts, and strudel at this beloved, German-inspired Christmas market in Arlington.
The market is transitioning to virtual this year, available here from November 27 - December 23, 2020.
19. Canandaigua Christkindl Market in Canandaigua, New York
This has been rated as one of the top German Christmas markets in the entire country. Held at the Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum grounds, in addition to the usual market activities, you also get to experience a holiday trolley ride and elf school for the kiddos.
This market has been canceled in 2020 due to COVID but has an online store with past vendors available here.
20. Atlanta Christkindl Market in Atlanta, Georgia
This medieval market is put on annually by The German American Cultural Foundation. It's also the largest holiday festival that Atlanta holds every winter.
Unfortunately, this is another annual event that has been postponed to 2021.
21. The Christmas Village in Nashville, Tennessee
This holiday staple in Nashville was started back in the 60s and is put together annually by volunteers raising money for various local charities.
The Christmas Village has been canceled for 2020 but is set for November 12-14, 2021.
22. Kerstmarkt in Holland, Michigan
This Dutch-style market has been running in Michigan since 1997. It coincides with the Parade of Lights and Sinterklaas (Santa) march through the town.
Open November 21 - December 12, 2020.
23. Belleville Christkindlmarkt in Belleville, Illinois
The annual Christmas market includes a scavenger hunt for children as well as pictures with Santa and opportunities to purchase gifts and goodies from little shops.
Unfortunately, the 2020 event was canceled, but check back here for updates on the pending virtual market that will be made available later this month.
This article was originally published on December 23, 2019, but has since been updated.