Christkindlmarket Chicago

History & Tradition

dd99a9b3aaThe Christkindlmarket Chicago brings a cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm to Chicago. Chicago's largest open-air Christmas festival is an enchanting and inviting holiday village nestled in the center of the city’s downtown. Inspired by the 16th century Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, one of the first holiday markets of its kind, the Christkindlmarket is well-known for its vendors’ high quality gifts and food, holiday cheer, and for being the ideal place for families to create their own holiday traditions.




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.


Christkindlmarket Naperville

By popular demand, the Christkindlmarket Chicago became host to a second location in the western suburbs, which is 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, both new and similar to what can be found in Chicago. Hand-blown glass ornaments, traditional German holiday décor, beer steins, and sweet and savory treats including Glühwein will be available for purchase at the event, which is free and open to the public. The Christkindlmarket Naperville looks forward to offering visitors the same wonder and magic that can be found at the original Chicago market, just a bit closer to home.


Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville

German American Events, LLC was thrilled to bring the beloved Chicagoland tradition of the Christkindlmarket to its third location, Gallagher Way in 2017. Visitors are invited to experience the delight of the authentic festive European atmosphere and joy of the original downtown Chicago market at Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville.

For more information, click here.


Christkindlmarket Milwaukee 

in 2018, German American Events, LLC was thrilled to bring the beloved tradition of the Christkindlmarket to the most German of major American cities: Milwaukee. Visitors experience the delight of an authentic German festival in the heart of the city at the new Fiserv Forum. Celebrate the season with festive shopping, delicious European and German delicacies, hot spiced wine (Glühwein), fine beers, hand-crafted ornaments, entertainment, family fun and much more.


Educational Opportunities

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!

Free Admission - Open Daily
Sun - Thu 11Am - 8Pm
Fri - Sat 11Am - 9Pm
On Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop (between Dearborn, Washington and Clark Street)