Chicago’s Christkindlmarket was first conceptualized in 1995. The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest Inc. (GACC Midwest) was seeking alternative ways to promote bilateral trade between the USA and Germany. Peter Flatzek, former Vice President of GACC Midwest, and Ray Lotter, then Manager of Commercial Services for GACC Midwest, initiated the partnership with city officials of Nuremberg, Germany. Mr. Lotter invited companies from Germany and the Chicago area to participate in the first Christkindlmarket Chicago in 1996. The market was an instant success and continues to flourish through the work of GACC Midwest’s subsidiary, German American Events, LLC.
The event was first held on Pioneer Court in 1996. By special invitation of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a staple event on the plaza ever since. With the support of the City of Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Christkindlmarket Chicago has grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions for locals and tourists alike.
By popular demand, the Christkindlmarket Chicago is host to a second location in the western suburbs, which in 2016 will be held at Naper Settlement in Naperville, IL. The charm and authentic atmosphere of the Christkindlmarket Chicago can also be found at the Christkindlmarket Naperville. The second market boasts the same traditional candy-cane striped booths and vendors that offer handcrafted and holiday themed wares for sale that are new and also similar to what can be found in Chicago. Hand-blown glass ornaments, traditional German holiday décor, beer steins, and sweet and savory treats including the Glühwein will be available for purchase at the event, which is admission free and open to the public. The Christkindlmarket Naperville looks forward to offering visitors with the same wonder and magic that can be found at the original Chicago market, just a bit closer to home.
The Christkindlmarket Chicago and Naperville are perfect events for teachers and professors of the German language to take their students. At the Christkindlmarket, students have the opportunity to practice skills at the market with numerous German speaking vendors. Several educational activities for students visiting the market include: scavenger hunts, interviews with vendors, or singing German holiday songs for all to enjoy. At the market, students get to experience authentic German traditions without having to travel any farther than the city of Chicago or Naperville. Children can become members of the Kinder Club, a program that gives them opportunities to win prizes as well as get more involved in the history and tradition of the Christkindlmarket. From Kindergardeners to graduate students the message is loud and clear: The Christkindlmarket is fun, fun, fun!