Winter brings cold winds off of Lake Michigan for the residents of Chicago. So where’s the best place for Christmas shopping? Outdoors, of course, specifically the Christkindlmarket in the Chicago Loop.
Christkindlmarket is a traditional German-American holiday market. The Chicago version started in 1996 but is modeled after the event in Nuremberg, Germany that began in 1545. Daley Plaza is filled with red and white striped tents offering all manner of gifts. Most of the vendors are from Germany. They sell clocks, handmade ornaments and wood carvings, as well as glassware, mittens, folk art and much more.
While this is an open air market there are several tents set up with walls to get a brief break from the cold. Many of these belong to the food and beverage vendors. One of the favorites is a warm spiced wine called Gluhwein, served in a souvenir mug. Food runs the gamut from German holiday cake to bratwurst to baked apples.
Music is very big part of the festival. There are daily performances by choirs, brass bands and small combos. The festival runs from mid-November until December 24th and admission is free.