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The New Addition to Chicago’s Must-See Christmas Attraction

Chicago’s Christkindlmarket returns to Wrigleyville as the perfect family-friendly festival.

 

Every Christmas the smells of roasted nuts, spiced wine and bratwurst fill the air of Daley Plaza. Chicago’s famed German market is one of the most popular holiday attractions in the city and offers a unique experience of European food, alcohol, performances and artisian gifts. 

The event attracts over one million visitors every year, and the crowds are almost as legendary as the souvenir mugs and beer steins. But this year, if you’re looking to snack on some pretzles, potato pancakes or sauerkraut and want to avoid a sea of tourists, the market has a second location in Wrigleyville.  

Market history  

Modeled after the ‘Christkindlesmarkt’ of Nuremberg, Germany, Chicago’s take began in 1996. The brainchild of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, it was originally meant to encourage bilateral trade between the United States and Germany. The first year’s outdoor market was held on Pioneer Court but was moved to its current location at Daley Plaza the very next year. 

Today, the event is a free and beloved tradition for both locals and vistors. And for students wishing to practice their German language skills, the market offers educational opportunities through “scavenger hunts, interviews with vendors, or singing German holiday songs for all to enjoy.” 

Wrigleyville location

The alternative setting next to the Cubs’ stadium was first introduced in 2017, but was not open last year due to construction. This winter, the outdoor festival returns to the city’s north side as a smaller and less-crowded option, complete with holiday music and thousands of twinkling lights.

Chicago resident, Maria Candia, said she always tries to go downtown, but when she went this year she “couldn’t like walk at all, so that was kind of a hard thing to do.” 

The very next night, she decided to check out Wrigleyville’s Christkindlmarket.

Set up beside the Gallagher building, on the corner of N Clark and W Addison Street, the rows of wooden shopping huts offer many of the same international cuisine, alcohol and products as downtown. There’s also the traditional Christkindlmarket mug, which changes design every year. Unlike Daley Plaza, the more intimate nature of this location allows for security checkpoints and an ice-skating rink. 

“I like this one because there’s more room to walk around,” said Candia. Also making her ‘nice list’ were the decorative snowflakes, festive Christmas trees and one gigantic, illuminated polar bear.

There’s also perks for the markets’ vedors. Katharian Ortner has worked at the seasonal “Baverian Workshop” both downtown and on the north side. To her, smaller crowds allow for shoppers to take their time and really examine the crafts for sale. It also creates a more family-friendly environment in a laid-back space. 

“Downtown, people are just everywhere,” she said. “I think just in general, this location is a bit more chill.” 

Wrigleyville’s Christkindlmarket operates on different hours and will be open until Dec. 31 – a full week later than the festival at Daley Plaza – with the exception of Christmas day. 

HCLUC Co-CC Shelby is an LUC senior studying multimedia journalism, cultural anthropology, political science and Asian studies. Although she grew up in South Dakota, she has found homes in Chicago, Morocco, and Vietnam. She strives to continue traveling the world to seek out human triumphs and trials by telling stories through a fresh, unbiased viewpoint. When she's not studying or working, Shelby is a devoted fan of sunsets, strawberry smoothies, and Seth Meyers. 
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