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A Christkindl market in Dresden, Germany


Christkindl markets — those enchanting, open-air seasonal pop-ups most prevalent in Germany — are just the ticket for gift-buyers in search of homespun presents and holiday-centric scores. Find them around the globe.

Should you find yourself in the Christkindl market motherland, check out the Marienplatz in Munich. The seasonal market, which dates back to 1642, is situated in the heart of Old Town, and brims with live music and kid-friendly arts and crafts, the latter held at the town hall. Meanwhile, the oldest of the Germany’s markets takes place in Dresden. Going strong since 1434, the Dresden Christkindl market features the world’s largest nutcracker and the world’s largest stollen (Christmas cake), the latter of which is loaded onto a carriage and taken to the market to be shared by the crowds of shoppers.

Chicago gets in on the action with a festive, annual outdoor market at Daley Plaza in Chicago Loop (between Washington, Clark, and Dearborn Streets) from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Modeled on traditional German Christmas markets, Chicago’s popular version features German fare and tipples, and is loaded with stalls hawking holiday ornaments and Christmas village accoutrements. There are plenty of activities for kiddos, too, including an interactive passport-stamping game.

If you happen to be in Denmark during Jul, though, make fast tracks for light-strung Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. Throughout the season, craft-stocked stalls abound, while aquavit, schnapp-spiked glogg and jam-slathered doughnuts are staples.

In the Netherlands, the underground Velvet Cave in Valkenburg hosts a fête where gifts are backdropped by mural paintings and sculptures. Santa makes an appearance, and parades and musical performances around town add festive holiday flair.

Of course, the gathering in Vienna, Austria, is another must — especially for sweet tooths given the bevy of candied fruit and cotton candy on offer. Not your cup of tea? You can score bags of hot chestnuts and mulled wine, too. Held throughout the advent season between Rathaus (city hall) and Burgtheater, its wooden booths are stocked with vintage-inspired tin toys and ornaments. Meanwhile, children’s workshops and a bakery ensure young ones remain content.

Tagged: Christmas Travel Ideas, Europe

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Jennifer Olvera

Jennifer Olvera

Jennifer Olvera is a culinary travel writer, recipe developer and author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Chicago. Find her on Twitter at @olverajennifer.
Jennifer Olvera

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