All the way across the pond, it’s rather easy to discover the sweet smells of gingersnaps or roasted chestnuts drawing in shoppers of all kinds, especially in popular European cities around Christmastime. These snow-laden towns turn magically each year into winter wonderlands, boasting holiday-themed bazaars that have become a highly anticipated annual family favorite for discovering handmade goods.
Dating all the way back to the Middle Ages around the observance of Lent, European style Christmas markets are an age old tradition that has also gained traction in various cities all throughout these great United States. From New York and Washington D.C. to California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Texas, Americans are now getting the chance to enjoy the pleasures of a truly unique (not to mention cultural) shopping experience. What’s more is that these outdoor markets always serve as a refreshing alternative to crowded malls and those never-ending cardboard boxes of ordinary store-bought products.
There really is no need, however, to jet thousands of miles across the globe to find wintery treats such as glittering ornaments and artisanal woodwork, or vibrantly knitted sweaters and spicy homemade delicacies. Easily spread around holiday joy and cheer this chilly season by making a short trip out to any of the many nearby U.S. hotspots offering German-inspired Christmas markets. Both you and the entire family will get the chance to savor some European-style nostalgia and, of course, get even more filled to the brim with Christmas spirit. Make it a Happy Holidays indeed- here are ten of the best Christmas markets in the United States.
U.S. Christmas Markets: Enjoy the Nation's 10 Best Christmas Markets this Holiday Season
1. Winter Village at Bryant Park – New York City, NY
Offering everything from jewelry and winter apparel to seasonal bites and ornamental decorations, this outdoor extravaganza dotting the tree-lined paths of Bryant Park sits right in the shadow of the Empire State Building in midtown. The ultimate winter wonderland also boasts a central ice-skating rink offering free admission, as well as special skating shows, all in the heart of Manhattan. For more info, visit the market’s site.
Winter Village is located at Bryant Park in New York City, NY at 41 West 40th St. and is open from October 30, 2015-January 3, 2016. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-6pm.
2. Downtown Holiday Market - Washington, D.C.
Along with classic European food traditions, this annual market offers everything from ice cream made with liquid nitrogen to piping-hot donuts. Simply said, it takes the kind of worldly approach you’d expect in our nation’s capitol city and is located on F Street directly in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Each year, over 150 creative individuals sell handmade goods like pottery, paintings, photo prints, and textiles at this festive market, which by the way, features sixty vendors a day, including regional artisans, crafters, and businesses showcasing ethically produced goods. For more info, visit its site.
Downtown Holiday Market is located in Washington, D.C. at F St NW & 8th St NW and is open from November 27-December 23, 2015. Hours are Mon-Sun from 12-8pm.
3. Christmas Village – Philadelphia, PA
Just west of City Hall, Philadelphia’s Love Park (JFK Plaza) transforms each winter into a vibrant market with thousands of twinkling lights and more than sixty vendors selling seasonal gifts alongside edible classics like waffles, gingerbread, pickles, bratwurst, and mulled wine. Partnering with the City of Nuremberg, it no doubt follows an authentic German approach and provides the perfect atmosphere to put anybody in the Christmas mood. For more info, visit its site.
Christmas Village is located within Love Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 1500 Arch St. and is open November 21-22 & November 26-December 27, 2015. Hours are Sun-Thurs 11am-7pm, Fri-Sat 10am-8pm.
4. Union Square Holiday Market - New York City, NY
More than one million shoppers—New Yorker natives and visitors alike— have annually browsed this Union Square holiday staple since 1994. The expansive market has over 150 vendors selling artisanal foods, holiday ornaments, handmade jewelry, and children’s toys under iconic red and white tents. There’s also a dedicated “Little Brooklyn” section highlighting the borough’s finest, including DIY beer-making kits from Brooklyn Brew Shop, bow ties from Dap Kitsch, sock puppets from Martystuff, and Natural OliveWood’s bread bowls and cutting boards. For more info, visit the market’s site.
Union Square Holiday Market is located in New York City, New York at E 14th St & Union Square W and is open from November 19-December 24, 2015. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm.
5. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair - San Francisco, CA
Inspired by A Christmas Carol and other notable works by 19th-century English writer Charles Dickens, the themed fair immerses visitors in the books and stories that brought to life characters like Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim. More than 120,000 square feet of space is converted into a miniature London Town, where winding lanes, actors dressed in top hats, street vendors peddling roasted chestnuts, and lamp-lit shops selling fine jewelry and Christmas ornaments easily take visitors back in time to the Victorian era. For more info, visit its site.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party is located at the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls in San Francisco, CA at 2600 Geneva Ave. for five weekends starting November 21, 2015. Specific dates include: November 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 & Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 2015. Hours are Mon-Sun 10am-7pm.
6. Christkindlmarket Chicago – Chicago, IL
With 70-plus types of food to sample, this Christmas market offers shoppers a wide variety of truly authentic German items such as cuckoo clocks from the Black Forest region, lace from Plauen, glass ornaments from Lauschaer, and wood carvings from the Erzgebirge. It’s grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions in the heart of the city and even provides students the ability to experience authentic German traditions without having to travel any further than central Chi-town. For more info, visit its site.
Christkindlmarket Chicago is located at Daley Plaza in Chicago, Illinois at 50 W Washington St. and is open from November 20-December 24, 2015. Hours are Sun-Thurs 11am-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-9pm.
7. Georgetown Christmas Market - Georgetown, CO
Donning tons of sparkling lights and decorative greenery, this quaint historic Colorado town has had its Christmas market up and running for more than half a century. Carolers in Victorian costumes line the streets, as well as horse-drawn wagons, pre-Christmas appearances by St. Nicholas, and a Nordic-inspired Saint Lucia Children’s Procession. Along with German favorites like roasted chestnuts and mulled wine, you’ll also find more locally produced items such as Victorian antiques and Colorado wine. For more info, visit its site.
Georgetown Christmas Market is located in Georgetown, Colorado at 6th St. and is open from December 3-13, 2015. Hours are Mon-Sun 10am-5pm.
8. Arlington Christkindl Market - Arlington, TX
Inspired by cherished German tradition, this is one of the largest open-air holiday markets in the Southwest where vendors sell everything from Austrian and Polish pottery to handmade soaps and seasonal clothes made from pure alpaca wool. The market also features an array of kid-focused activities like a Bavarian-themed petting zoo, vibrant lantern parades, free puppet-building workshops, and a marionette theater variety show with acrobatic elves, dancing snowmen, and teddy bears juggling candy canes. For more info, visit its site.
Arlington Christkindl Market is located in Arlington, Texas at 1098 Ballpark Way and is open from November 27-December 23, 2015. Hours are Sun-Fri 12pm-9pm, Sat 10am-10pm.
9. Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt - Cincinnati, OH
Infusing fun activities all throughout its seasonal run-- whether it be skating on the Fountain Square ice rink or watching Santa and his elves journey down the side of Macy’s department store during the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony, Cincinnati’s infamous market boasts bunches of traditional cross-timbered booths decorated with glittering lights and filled with artisans selling one-of-a-kind handcrafted gifts. For more info, visit its site.
Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt is located at Fountain Square in Cincinnati, Ohio at 520 Vine St. and is open for four consecutive weekends starting Friday, November 27-Sunday, December 20, 2015. Hours are typically Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
10. Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem (Christmas City) - Bethlehem, PA
This tradition-steeped town was officially deemed “Bethlehem” on Christmas Eve in 1741 and annually holds one of the most authentic Christmas markets in the U.S. Highlights include everything from artisans and glassblowers making glass ornaments on site to vendors offering sweet-smelling candied almonds, home-style kettle corn, stuffed pretzels, dipped fruits, and a whole slew of barbecue options. In addition, kids can sit on Santa’s knee for a quintessential photo op as well as share breakfast with jolly old St. Nick himself. For more info, visit its site.
Christmas City/Christkindlmarkt is located at Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania at 101 Founders Way and is open Thurs-Sundays starting December 3-20, 2015. Hours are typically Thurs 11am-6pm, Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.