READ TIME 4 MIN – Welcome back! 23 weeks and counting until we are all together again to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Christkindlmarket. While that sounds like a long time, our little team of elves is busy getting everything ready. But does it really take a full year to plan the Christkindlmarket? You might be surprised to learn that it does! Let’s look behind the scenes and see what the team does all year to bring this beloved tradition to life.
Believe it or not, planning for the next season’s favorite holiday spectacle begins more than a year before the event opens! Many people think that the City of Chicago plans the Christkindlmarket, and though we actually take care of the planning, we work very closely with the city to make this beloved event a reality. We start the process by having conversations with our friends and partners in the City of Chicago, including the Alderman, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the Daley Center. It is their support and encouragement that really gets the ornament rolling.
After wrapping up the previous year’s market in January, the next big step takes place in February/March with the designing and ordering of everyone’s favorite souvenir item, the annual Christkindlmarket mug! Our little elves work with a design company in Germany to create the unique and special mugs each year. The German design companies create mug illustrations for many of the over 200 Christmas markets, or as the Germans would say “Weihnachtsmaerkte,” worldwide. That’s A LOT of mugs! Germany is only about the size of Montana though, so it sources some of the production out to other countries for help. Did you know that many of the holiday markets in Germany do not really sell the mugs as collectors’ items? Actually, many European markets collect, sanitize and resell their mugs after each use, much like water glasses in restaurants!
In the late spring and early summer, the team is busy with sorting and selecting vendors. The Christkindlmarket Chicago alone has over 50 vendors, and there are many more at our other Christkindlmarket locations. The markets are made up of about 60% German vendors, the remaining 40% represent local businesses as well as other US states and countries. Just like the markets in Germany, we want to have diversity and be a “World” market… with a German flare, of course! Priority is always given to returning vendors, but we are also always looking for new exciting artisans to join us as a full–time vendor or in our pop-up vendor booth (which hosts rotating vendors for a few days at a time). Want to sell your products at the market? Apply here!
We also spend this time reaching out to potential sponsors and partners and provide customized opportunities to get involved at the market. Like little events within the event, we love finding unique ways to allow companies to get in on the fun at the Christkindlmarket. If you are interested in supporting the market, or know of someone who might be, please contact us here. You can also find us at many networking events throughout the city. We are very grateful for the many events that the Chicago Loop Alliance and Choose Chicago, two of our local community partners, put on. We always love to meet new people, share stories, and learn new ways we can help promote the wonderful City of Chicago.
Finally, the late summer and early fall are logistics time! This includes getting permits, hiring temporary staff as well as volunteers, and setting the schedule for the building of the market booths and Timber Haus. During this time, we finalize our marketing campaigns and connect with many media outlets to give interviews, so that the Christkindlmarket news can be shared with all of you, our lovely visitors. A lot of moving parts go into making the market happen – and for our team, we feel the Holiday Spirit all year round. We hope the Christkindlmarket is on your mind too. We can’t wait to share with you all the exciting plans we already have in place for this year’s 25th Anniversary Celebration!
Join us again for our bi-weekly blog entries and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to engage with our #25YearsIn25Weeks picture throwback series. Make sure to also sign up for our Newsletter so you don’t miss a moment of the fun!