USA

The 20 Best Christmas Markets in the United States

by Paul Joseph  |  Published November 24, 2016

There are few things likely to get you in the festive mood more than wrapping up warm and strolling round a Christmas market, browsing for gifts and sampling delicious seasonal treats. And there’s a reason why these treats so often include such delicacies as bratwurst and gluhwein: it’s because the roots of these atmospheric bazaars can be found in Germany in the late Middle Ages, with the tradition having passed down the centuries and enduring to the current day.

Traditionally attired men and women carry decorations through Denver Christkindlmarkt (Photo: Robot Brainz via Flickr)

In America there are a vast number of Christmas markets – more typically referred to as Holiday Markets – in towns, villages and cities across the country, many of which are modeled on their German cousins across the pond. Wooden booths and northern European style arts and crafts are both nods to this Germanic heritage and it’s a pastiche that is lapped up by huge numbers of visitors each year. Below is a potted journey around 20 of the best Holiday Markets to visit in the United States.

1. Texas Christkindl Market (Arlington, Texas)

Arlington, One of Texas’ largest cities, also puts on one of the state’s most popular Christmas markets. This family-friendly German-inspired market is nestled next to Globe Life Park and features holiday gifts, decorations and other traditional festive goods, as well as an array of live entertainment. Visitors can ensconce themselves in the Warming Haus while kids will enjoy catching a glimpse of the Christkindl Angel and getting their photo taken with Santa himself. The market also claims to be the only place in the southwest where you can find exclusive Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas decorations and designs from the renowned Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Village in Germany. WHEN 25 November-23 December WHERE 1098 Ballpark Way, next to Globe Life Park OPENING HOURS Mon-Fri Noon-8pm; Sat 10am-10pm; Sun Noon-7pm

Texas Christkindl Market

Two small boys dressed in traditional German garb enjoy a good-natured arm-wrestling match at the Texas Christkindl Market (Photo: Texas Christkindl Market)

2. Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt (Cincinnati, Ohio)

This market is actually part of a broader celebration called Macy’s Light Up the Square, which takes place each year in the heart of Cincinnati and features the annual lighting of a Christmas tree along with live music, a fireworks display and an ice skating rink. The market itself is authentically German in style and boasts a wide range of vendors and local artisans selling traditional German fare, gifts and other festive-themed products. WHEN 25-27 November; 3-4, 10-11 & 17-18 December WHERE Fountain Square, downtown Cincinnati OPENING HOURS Fri-Sat Noon-10pm; Sun Noon-5pm

Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt

A view of the Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt (Photo: Adam Rauch)

3. Downtown Holiday Market (Washington DC)

Consistently ranked among America’s best Holiday Markets, and anyone who’s visited will testify as to why. Located on Washington’s F Street between 7th & 9th streets NW, outside the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum, it features a rotating selection of exhibitors and artisans offering fine art, crafts, jewellery, pottery, clothing, and specialty food items. The market takes place every day from mid-November all the way through to Christmas Eve. Visit the market website here. WHEN 25 November-23 December WHERE The sidewalk of F Street, NW between 7th and 9th Streets, in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery OPENING HOURS Noon-8pm Daily

Downtown Holiday Market, Washington DC

Visitors to the Downtown Holiday Market in Washington DC stroll between the stalls (Photo: Downtown Holiday Market)

4. Union Square Holiday Market (New York City)

While some Christmas markets are best suited for a quick wander, you could easily set aside an entire day to explore this internationally renowned version located in the heart of Manhattan. As well as a choice of more than 150 vendors showcasing handcrafted goods and unusual items, there’s also a whole host of entertainment, including a kid’s craft studio and live musical performances. Some great gift ideas to be found here include brew-your-own beer kits from the Brooklyn Brew Shop and monogrammed stuffed animals from Hazel Village. There’s also plenty of food and drink on offer, either to enjoy as you walk or to take home for the fridge or pantry. WHEN 25 November-23 December WHERE Union Square Park OPENING HOURS Noon-8pm Daily

Union Square Holiday Market, NYC

A crisp winter sky overlooks the Union Square Holiday Market in New York (Photo: Erin Kestenbaum)

5. Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival (Tomball, Texas)

A street festival, musical concert and open-air Christmas market all rolled into one. Visitors can tap their feet to well-known stage performers and carol singers while browsing the 175-plus vendors selling Christmas items, arts and crafts, and plenty more. There’s also a huge range of food and drink offerings, including mulled wine, beer, Christmas Stollen, bratwurst and sauerkraut. A dedicated kid’s area featuring carnival rides, bungee-jumping, a rock wall, a petting zoo and pony rides help keep little ones entertained for hours. WHEN 9-11 December WHERE Old Town Tomball Near the Historical Train Depot Plaza OPENING HOURS Fri 6pm-10pm; Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 10am-6pm

6. Columbus Circle Holiday Market (New York City)

This is one of the best known Christmas markets anywhere in the US, thanks in some measure to its iconic location at the entrance to Central Park. Visitors can – and very often do – lose themselves in the glittering array of aisles where art, jewellery, homeware and delicious food and drink are on display, much of which has been created by gifted artisans and independent designers. If you need help navigating your way around, dedicated on-site concierge staff will guide you to your preferred stalls. WHEN 29 November–24 December WHERE Columbus Circle, 59th Street and Central Park West OPENING HOURS Mon-Sat 10am-8pm Monday; Sun 10am-7pm

Columbus Circle Holiday Market, NYC

Christmas shoppers browse the Columbus Circle Holiday Market in New York (Photo: Charley Lhasa via Flickr)

7. Christmas Village (Baltimore, Maryland)

Baltimore’s German Christmas market has been a fixture on the city’s winter calendar since 2013 and features thousands of lights, a giant Christmas Tree and enough traditional food to shake a stick at, including waffles, gingerbread and bratwurst. There’s indoor and outdoors areas, meaning those less inclined to brave the cold can always retreat to warmer environs thanks to a heated tent, underneath which you’ll find a food court and a diverse mix of stallholders selling holiday gifts, ornaments, jewellery, arts and crafts and much more.WHEN 24 November–24 December WHERE Inner Harbor, 501 Light Street Park OPENING HOURS Noon-8pm Daily

8. Germany Pavilion Epcot World Showcase (Orlando, Florida)

As you’d expect, Disney World pulls out all the stops when it comes to Christmas, with the entire resort transformed into a flamboyant festive extravaganza. At Epcot Center, the German Pavilion enters into the spirit of things by taking on the traditional role of a German Christmas market, with authentic toys and gifts available including felt hats, cow bells, original Black Forest Cuckoo clocks, hand painted eggs, beer steins, and the famous Steiff stuffed teddy bears. WHEN 25 November-23 December WHERE Epcot Centre, Walt Disney World OPENING HOURS 9am-9pm Daily

Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista

Stunning Christmas light displays overhead at Epcot Center at Disney World in Orlando (Photo: Walt Disney World Resort)

9. Christkindlmarket (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)

Held over five weeks and featuring more than 125 artisanal stall holders, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem positively oozes old-world charm. As well as an impressive range of gift ideas, there’s also the heart-warming sound of live Christmas music, plus impressive ice-sculpting demonstrations and giant playhouses, both of which help draw families with kids to the market. Visitors can expect to find beautiful glass art, handmade jewellery, wheel-thrown pottery, gourmet foods and hand-crafted candles, to name just a few goodies. WHEN 18-20 & 25-27 November; 1-4, 8-11 & 15-18 December WHERE Steel Stacks, 101 Founders Way OPENING HOURS Thurs & Sun 11am-6pm; Fri & Sat: 11am–8pm

10. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair (Daly City, San Francisco)

If you’re a fan of the works of Charles Dickens then this Christmas Fair may well be for you. The fair invites visitors to step back in time and experience Victorian London, where most of Dickens’ novels were set, all the way down to the hustle and bustle of its street markets. The event takes place at the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls which is transformed with improvised lamplit lanes, pubs and theatres, dance floors and music halls, tearooms and shops, plus hundreds of costumed characters. WHEN Each weekend from 19 November–18 December WHERE Cow Palace Exhibition Halls OPENING HOURS Sat & Sun 10am-7pm

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco

A theatrical performance during The Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco (Photo: MarkEYE)

11. Denver Christkindlmarkt (Colorado)

Ambling through festively decorated and illuminated streets, enjoying rides on old-fashioned carousels, buying handmade Christmas decorations, listening to German Christmas carols, and drinking hot spiced wine. This is just a taster of what awaits you at Denver’s highly popular Christkindlmarkt, which is organised each year by the German American Chamber of Commerce and the German Cultural Foundation. WHEN 18 November-23 December WHERE Skyline Park,16th Street Mall and Arapahoe OPENING HOURS Sun-Thurs 11am-7pm; Fri & Sat 11am-9pm

12. Christmas Village (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Taking place in the grounds of Philadelphia’s City Hall, this German-themed Christmas Village is renowned for its unique atmosphere thanks to the thousands of lights and live music performances of Christmas classics. As for things to buy, there are more than 80 stalls selling ornaments, toys, jewellery, and arts and crafts, while traditional European food and drink is in good supply with waffles, gingerbread, bratwurst and mulled wine tempting visitors into submission. WHEN 24 November-24 December WHERE City Hall, 1400 JFK Boulevard OPENING HOURS Sun-Thurs 11am-7pm; Fri-Sat 11am-8pm

Christmas Village, Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s Christmas market against a back drop of old and modern buildings (Photo: Brooke via Flickr)

13. Alpine Village Christmas Faire (Torrance, California)

This market offers an authentic flavour of Germany in the heart of California thanks to its homemade Gluhwein and other traditional European treats. Held in an indoor-outdoor venue, there’s speciality gift vendors, seasonal imported food, freshly baked bread and a whole host of other goodies. This is a popular event with families who come here from far and wide to enjoy the festive atmosphere and high quality offerings. WHEN 10-11 December WHERE 833 W Torrance Blvd OPENING HOURS 9am-7pm Daily

14. Georgetown Christmas Market (Colorado)

For the residents of Georgetown in Colorado, the festive season is an excuse to turn back the clock by re-enacting Yuletide as it was enjoyed some 100 years ago. Pop along to the town’s Christmas market and you’ll be greeted by horse-drawn wagons riding through the historic centre and carol singers dressed in Victorian costumes, among other themed entertainment. There’ll also be plenty of speciality gifts and products to browse. And remember to pick up a bag of roasted chestnuts – surely no Christmas is complete without them? WHEN 3-4 & 10-11 December WHERE Strousse Park OPENING HOURS Sat & Sun 10am-6pm

15. Arlington Christkindl Market (Texas)

The bustling university town of Arlington is humming with activity at all times of year, but never more so than at Christmas when it hosts its German-themed market, said to be one of the largest open-air holiday markets in the Southwest. It’s definitely suitable for families, with plenty of kiddie-friendly activities and entertainment, but the main focus of interest is of course the festive goods on display, including gifts and decorations. There’ll also be authentic German cuisine along with everyone’s favourite Christmas tipples. WHEN 25 November – 23 December WHERE Ballpark Way, next to Globe Life Park OPENING HOURS Mon-Fri 5pm-8pm; Sat 10am-10pm; Sun Noon-7pm

16. Canandaigua Christkindl Market (New York)

No need to worry about New York’s famous winter cold snap at this market, which is held under several heated tents on the lawn of the majestic Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum. Over 130 regional artisans and food vendors regularly turn up for the annual event, which also features live entertainment and festive music. Younger visitors are able to meet the Christkindl Angel as well as Santa and Mrs Claus who wait to greet them in Santa’s House. WHEN 11-13 November WHERE Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum OPENING HOURS Fri 12pm-7pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 10am-4pm

Canandaigua Christkindl Market, New York

Visitors to the Canandaigua Christkindl Market in New York line up for festive German treats (Photo: Granger Homestead via Flickr)

17. Old World Christmas Market (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin)

This market does what it says on the tin, rekindling the centuries’ old German Christkindlesmarkts with authentic gifts, ornaments and food specialities sold at authentic timbre booths. The setting is perhaps unlikely, in a luxury resort overlooking Wisconsin’s scenic Elkhart Lake, but it’s certainly impressive. The market stalls feature freshly-cut balsam trees adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, a European-style food court, and an appearance by Father Christmas, all staged in a heated tent the length of a football field. WHEN 2-11 December WHERE The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake OPENING HOURS 10am-5pm Daily

Old World Christmas Market

Festive visitors browse the stalls at the Old World Christmas Market in Wisconsin (Photo: Old World Christmas Market at The Osthoff Resort)

18. WeihnachtsMarkt (Harmony, Pennsylvania)

Set in the grounds of a prestigious museum, this is another rather unusual location for a Christmas market, but large numbers come to visit each year to enjoy the family-fun atmosphere and the array of gifts on display. There’s a high level of quality control, meaning that artists and vendors are selected based on the standard of their offerings, so you can guarantee the items you’re browsing are authentic German imports, often handcrafted and always interesting. There’s also live entertainment here, including quilting and weaving demonstrations, carol singing, and a Reindeer Express Mailbox for kids to send off their letters to Santa – plus lashings of traditional German food and drink. WHEN 12-13 November WHERE The Harmony Museum OPENING HOURS Sat 11am-6pm; Sun 12pm-4pm

19. Germania Society Christkindlmarkt (Cincinnati, Ohio)

If anyone in America is going to hit the bullseye with a Christmas market, you’d hope it would be the Germania Society, a Cincinatti-based organisation that celebrates German culture and events throughout the year. Each winter, they host an extensive market at Germania Park featuring imported German gifts and traditional food and drink. Live entertainment is also in ample supply, with German music, a children’s lantern parade, a petting zoo and carriage rides ensuring a family-friendly atmosphere. WHEN 18-20 November WHERE Germania Park OPENING HOURS Fri 5pm-10pm; Sat 11am-10pm; Sun Noon-5pmm

Germania Society Christkindlmarkt, Ohio

Crowds mingle at the Germania Society Christkindlmarkt in Ohio (Photo: Germania Society)

20. Bryant Park Winter Village (New York City)

Shopping is only half the story at the Bryant Park Winter Village. Each year, the park in Midtown Manhattan is transformed into a hugely popular entertainment hub, featuring a huge outdoor ice skating rink that helps make it one of the most atmospheric places to visit during Christmas in New York. There’s also more than 100 stall holders and food kiosks here selling everything from distinctive apparel, jewellery and decorations to delicious festive cuisine. WHEN 25 November 2016–2 January 2017 WHERE Bryant Park Park OPENING HOURS Mon-Fri 11am-8pm; Sat & Sun 10am-8pm

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