Christmas markets, outdoor gatherings of food and shopping vendors, are a European holiday tradition. You don’t have to travel to Germany for a fantastic market, however; many cities in the United States have adopted this festive custom. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, booking vacation rentals near these beautiful Christmas markets for a memorable shopping and entertainment experience for the whole family is easy.
1. Union Square Holiday Market, New York City, New York
New York’s Union Square comes to life each November and December with the vibrant Holiday Market. Sip hot mulled wine as you meander down the rows of rustic booths filled by vendors such as Boneyard Pets and Dulcinea Churros. If you’re looking to shop local, head to the Little Brooklyn section, where every product has been handmade in Brooklyn. The warming hut is a great spot to take a break, and the kids’ Arts Studio keeps little ones entertained. Admission is free, and the market is an easy subway ride from vacation rentals all over Manhattan.
2. Christmas Village, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ring in the season with the free Christmas Village in Philadelphia, a traditional German market that runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve in Love Park near city hall. Visit during the opening ceremonies, when the beautiful Christkind welcomes the crowd with a classic prologue. Indulge in bratwurst and gluhwein as you shop, join dancers in a polka during German American Weekend, and watch live performances on the main stage. On Fridays, come at lunch to hear local musicians such as the Philly POPS Festival Brass perform in the center of the market.
3. Christkindlmarket, Chicago, Illinois
The Christkindlmarket, Illinois’ largest open-air market, spreads over three different Chicago locations each year: Daley Plaza, Naperville, and the Park at Wrigley. Designed in traditional European style, the market bursts with German gifts including beer steins and ornate wooden nutcrackers. Christmas carolers stroll through the market, and you can catch brass bands and singers on the stage by the Grand Timber Haus. Look out for the gold-robed Christkind, and be sure to arrive hungry so you can take advantage of food stalls selling hot pretzels, schnitzel, and hot mulled wine. Admission is free at all three locations.
4. Downtown Holiday Market, Washington, D.C.
Get a jump on your Christmas shopping in the nation’s capital at the Downtown Holiday Market, which is free for the whole family. Fun and funky, this huge market puts a modern twist on the European tradition, offering everything from handmade jewelry to Peruvian empanadas. The highlight is the ultra-diverse entertainment, which ranges from Celtic Christmas tunes to Latin Jazz. If you’re ready to shop, you’re in luck; more than 150 vendors sell clothing, jewelry, crafts, art, and more.
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5. Christkindlmarkt, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
When it comes to authenticity, it’s hard to beat the Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem, which is dubbed “Christmas City.” Indulge in a hot pretzel as you watch traditional glass-blowing and ice-carving demonstrations; take away a blown glass ornament for your Christmas tree. Santa Claus wanders the market, and Käthe Wohlfarht offers handmade German collectibles and nutcrackers. Best of all, this sprawling market happens inside heated tents at PNC Plaza, so you can stay warm and cozy. Kids aged 5 and under are free, and you can purchase tickets online or at the door.
6. Texas Christkindl Lane, Arlington, Texas
Enjoy a southern take on a Christmas market in Arlington at the Texas Christkindl Lane, which is part of the city’s Enchant winter experience. After strolling through the vendor village and taking photos with Santa, lace up your skates for a spin around the outdoor ice rink. Nearby, the world’s largest Christmas light maze spreads out over two awe-inspiring acres. When you need a break, grab a snack from more than 20 onsite food trucks and head to the Main Stage to see nightly live entertainment. Buy tickets online at the Enchant website.
7. Denver Christkindl Market, Denver, Colorado
Celebrate holidays with a view of the Rockies at the Denver Christkindl Market. Colorado vendors offer crafts ranging from handmade winter hats to Mayan art. Feel like you’re in Germany when the larger-than-life Christmas pyramid, a staple of European markets, comes into view at the center of the festival. Be sure to bring your appetite to enjoy a Christmas stollen from Kaiser Bakery or European-style french fries from Street Frites. Admission is free, so you can come on multiple days to see polka bands and raise a pint in the beer garden.
8. Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt, Cincinnati, Ohio
Experience an Ohio winter at the Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt in Cincinnati. Grab a gluhwein before the tree-lighting, and keep an eye on Macy’s; Santa and his elves rappel down the side of the building to surprise the crowd. The market itself is rooted in tradition, from the wooden booths to the roasted almond vendors. Wear your warmest clothes for an evening of ice skating on the Fountain Square rink, and keep an eye out for the German bands playing Christmas tunes.
9. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco, California
Step back in time to Victorian London at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair. Stroll down old world lanes lit with gas lamps, ride the carousel in Tinsley Green, and watch costumed dancers do a jig on the Paddy West Stage in the London Docks area. Hundreds of Dickens-style characters roam the festival, joining you in a pint at the pub and leading the dances at Fezziwig’s Dance Party. Tickets are available online, and it’s a good idea to buy in advance.
10. Christkindl Market, Leavenworth, Washington
Leavenworth opens the holiday season with the annual Christkindl Market, a free, Bavarian-style festival that happens each Thanksgiving weekend. Grab a hot chocolate and head to the Festhalle for the Lantern Parade, when local children carry glowing lanterns and follow Santa Claus to Front Street Park, where they join the Christkindl in welcoming Christmas. If you’re visiting with little ones, your kids can even join in the parade. Later, stroll around the park to shop handmade goods, or head back to the Festhalle for live German music.
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