Christmas markets selling holiday treats, ornaments, gifts, and other goods have been part of the festive season ever since the first one was held in Germany in the Middle Ages. The passing centuries saw them spread from central Europe to countries around the world, the good ol’ US of A among them. If you’re going to be in the States over the holiday season, make sure you don’t miss out on the best US Christmas markets happening in big cities and small towns this year.
Some of these markets are inspired by fine old German tradition, while others take their cue from Victorian England. You’ll also find a few that put a thoroughly modern spin on things. Whatever your preference, you’re assured of good food and beverages, live entertainment, oodles of shopping for gifts and ornaments, and enough yuletide cheer to keep a sleigh airborne.
Union Square Market, New York City, New York
Is there anything as magical as New York City at Christmastime? The Union Square Market seems to capture and distil the spirit of the season, offering it to you with all the trimmings, twinkling lights, and a great, big bow.
Wander through an array of stalls run by more than 160 vendors, where you’ll find savoury and sweet treats, warming seasonal beverages, and gifts for practically everyone on your shopping list. This year’s market takes place at Union Square Park from 17 November until 24 December.
Great Dickens Christmas Fair, Daly City, California
One of the most unique Christmas markets in the US, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in Daly City, California, is a must if you love Victorian England and all things Dickensian. The fair and its 800 costumed vendors and performers transform the Cow Palace arena outside San Francisco into 19th-century London, complete with Christmas-themed shops and music halls. You’ll find handmade jewellery and leather goods, accessories, candles, and ceramics, festive treats such as roasted chestnuts and Christmas pudding, and British fare such as fish and chips.
Wash your festive feasting down with a pint at Mad Sal’s Dockside Alehouse. Keep a lookout for beloved Dickens characters such as Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Father Christmas. This year’s Great Dickens Christmas Fair takes place at Daly City’s Cow Palace exhibition halls from 19-20 and 25-27 November, and 3-4, 10-11, and 17-18 December.
Christmas Village, Baltimore, Maryland
The annual Christmas Village brings authentic German yuletide spirit to Baltimore’s Inner Harbour. Festooned with thousands of twinkling lights, the village includes indoor and outdoor Christmas markets, a beer garden, and an amusement park. Wander along the many stalls and be delighted by the work of local and international artists and craftspeople, gorgeous Christmas ornaments, a variety of gifts, and a veritable banquet of seasonal and other German and European foods and beverages.
Hofbrau German beer, warm and spiced glühwein (mulled wine), gingerbread, and Belgian fries are some of the Christmassy comestibles waiting to tempt you. This year’s Christmas Village takes place at West Shore Park, Baltimore, from 24 November until 24 December.
Christkindlmarket, Chicago, Illinois
Inspired by Nuremberg’s 16th-century Christkindlesmarkt, Chicago’s Christkindlmarket is famous for its exclusive vendors. You’ll find stunning Christmas ornaments, handmade wooden items such as traditional nutcrackers (Tchaikovsky, eat your heart out), whimsical gifts, and seasonal foods such as roasted nuts, glühwein, bratwurst, and fresh pretzels.
The popularity of what’s easily one of the best US Christmas markets will see it expand to three different locations this year, namely Daley Plaza, 50 W Washington Street, Wrigleyville (18 November until 24 December), Gallagher Way, 3635 N Clark Street (18 November until 24 December), and RiverEdge Park, 360 N Broadway, Aurora (18 November until 24 December).
Christmas Village, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Head to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for one of the best US Christmas markets with a cosmopolitan approach to this fine old tradition. The annual Christmas Village in Philly’s LOVE Park (AKA John F. Kennedy Plaza) gives you the opportunity to shop for unique and charming gifts from all over the world. In between browsing the many stalls, you can munch on seasonal treats and enjoy beer and wine tastings.
There’s no chance of the kids getting bored with browsing, as there are plenty of rides to keep them entertained. Other Christmassy events to take in while you’re in the city include the Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market, the municipal Christmas Tree on North Broad Street, and the Ice Rink at Dilworth Park. The Christmas Village takes place at LOVE Park, Arch Street, Philadelphia, from 19 November until 24 December.
Lincoln Road Holiday Market, Miami, Florida
Miami’s pedestrian-only shopper’s paradise, Lincoln Road is a treat to visit at any time of year, but it’s particularly exciting during the festive season. The 1.6 km-long shopping street is transformed by the Lincoln Road Holiday Market, where you’ll find gifts for all ages, yuletide accessories, and seasonal decorations.
What’s more, whereas many Christmas markets in the US wind up on Christmas Eve, this one continues until well after New Year’s Day, which means post-holiday specials. The Lincoln Road Holiday Market takes place on Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Miami, Florida, from 15 November until 15 February.
Georgetown Christmas Market, Georgetown, Colorado
Georgetown Christmas Market turns the clock back by some 200 years, giving visitors a chance to experience a Victorian-style Yuletide.
You can browse all manner of speciality gifts and other products, enjoy seasonal treats such as roasted chestnuts, listen to the sweet sounds of carollers dressed in Victorian costumes, and go for rides on horse-drawn wagons in the historic town centre. The Georgetown Christmas Market takes place in Strouse Park on 6th and Rose streets, Georgetown, Colorado, on 3-4 and 10-11 December.
Denver Christkindlmarkt, Denver, Colorado
Organised by the German American Chamber of Commerce and the German Cultural Foundation, the Denver Christkindlmarkt is one of the biggest and best US Christmas markets. The atmosphere is thoroughly that of a traditional German Christmas market – the streets are festooned with seasonal decorations and illuminations, the sound of German carols fills the air, and hot spiced wine is readily available to ward off the cold.
You can browse plenty of stalls selling homemade decorations and other goods, and you can let your inner child (or your actual kids) enjoy even more fun with a ride on an old-fashioned carousel. The Denver Christkindlmarkt takes place in Civic Centre Park, Denver, Colorado, from 18 November until 23 December.
Old World Christmas Market, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
If you’re looking for the Yuletide charm and cheer of days gone by in Wisconsin, head to the Old World Christmas Market at Elkhart Lake’s luxurious Osthoff Resort. Also inspired by Germany’s centuries-old Christkindlmarkt tradition, the market boasts balsam trees adorned with twinkling lights and quaint timber stalls where you’ll find a plethora of authentic German gifts and ornaments, speciality foods, and all sorts of other goodies.
When the hunger pangs set in, head to the European-style food court. If you’ve got the kids in tow, don’t miss out on Father Christmas’ visit to the market. The Old World Christmas Market takes place at the Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, from 2 until 11 December.
Atlanta Christkindl Market, Atlanta, Georgia
Seasonal enchantment comes to Atlanta in the form of the Atlanta Christkindl Market. This busy event is packed with special guests telling entertaining German Christmas folktales, and stalls selling German crafts and other items such as handmade wooden trinkets and toys, fine lace, and gorgeous Christmas tree ornaments.
When it’s time to refuel for more shopping, you can snack on hearty traditional German fare such as bratwurst, currywurst, and leberkäse. The Atlanta Christkindl Market takes place at Buckhead Village, Bolling Way and Peachtree Road, Atlanta, Georgia, from 25 November until 24 December.
Savannah Christmas Market, Savannah, Georgia
The Savannah Christmas Market brings together festive cheer and Southern hospitality. Held annually in the Plant Riverside District, the traditional German-style market is awash with stalls selling holiday decorations and local gifts, savoury and sweet treats, festive drinks, photo opportunities with Father Christmas, live music, and fun activities for children, all in a beautiful riverside location.
The Savannah Christmas Market takes place at Plant Riverside District, 400 W River Street, Savannah, Georgia, from 25 November until 1 January.
Whether you shop ‘til you drop, feast on festive foods, or simply enjoy a heady dose of nostalgia, there’s no better way to get yourself into the holiday spirit than by visiting the best US Christmas markets.