America's Best Christmas Markets
European markets date back to the Middle Ages around the observance of Advent. Children were presented with Holy Christkind, an angel clad in white who came bearing gifts as the patron of Christmas markets—and unlikely predecessor to modern-day Kris Kringle.
While Santa does make appearances at some of our favorite American Christmas markets, you’ll find a whole lot more to keep you jolly this shopping season.
The aroma of mulled wine, gingersnaps, and roasting chestnuts draws shoppers to Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremburg, Germany. But you don’t have to hop the pond to savor that kind of Christmas market—you’ll find similar treats in Chicago and across the U.S.
Outdoor markets have become an annual tradition stateside, with handmade goods that make a refreshing alternative to the holiday big-box shopping craze. “A Christmas market is by nature more personal and social—a unique experience indeed,” notes Karlfried Bergner, minister of communications and culture at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Related: The Best Places to Spend Christmas
At New York’s Union Square Holiday Market, for example, a dedicated “Little Brooklyn” section highlights the borough’s finest, including DIY beer-making kits from Brooklyn Brew Shop, bow ties from Dap Kitsch, and Natural OliveWood’s bread bowls and cutting boards.
Artisanal woodwork, glittering ornaments, vibrant knitted winter wear, jewelry, toys, and spicy homemade jams are staples of other markets. At the Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem, PA, you can even blow and design your own intricate glass ornament for your Christmas tree.