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Best Christmas Markets

There are few things likely to get you in the festive mood more than wrapping up warm and strolling round a Christmas market, browsing for gifts and sampling delicious seasonal treats. And there’s a reason why these treats so often include such delicacies as bratwurst and gluhwein: it’s because the roots of these atmospheric bazaars can be found in Germany in the late Middle Ages, with the tradition having passed down the centuries and enduring to the current day.

In America there are a vast number of Christmas markets – more typically referred to as Holiday Markets – in towns, villages and cities across the country, many of which are modeled on their German cousins across the pond. Wooden booths and northern European style arts and crafts are both nods to this Germanic heritage and it’s a pastiche that is lapped up by huge numbers of visitors each year. Below is a potted journey around 20 of the best Holiday Markets to visit in the United States.

1. Texas Christkindl Market (Arlington, Texas)


Arlington, One of Texas’ largest cities, also puts on one of the state’s most popular Christmas markets. This family-friendly German-inspired market is nestled next to Globe Life Park and features holiday gifts, decorations and other traditional festive goods, as well as an array of live entertainment. Visitors can ensconce themselves in the Warming Haus while kids will enjoy catching a glimpse of the Christkindl Angel and getting their photo taken with Santa himself. The market also claims to be the only place in the southwest where you can find exclusive Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas decorations and designs from the renowned Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Village in Germany. WHEN 24 November-31 December WHERE 1098 Ballpark Way, next to Globe Life Park OPENING HOURS Mon-Fri Noon-8pm; Sat 10am-10pm; Sun Noon-7pm

2. Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt (Cincinnati, Ohio)


This market is actually part of a broader celebration called Macy’s Light Up the Square, which takes place each year in the heart of Cincinnati and features the annual lighting of a Christmas tree along with live music, a fireworks display and an ice skating rink. The market itself is authentically German in style and boasts a wide range of vendors and local artisans selling traditional German fare, gifts and other festive-themed products. WHEN 24-26 November; 1-3 & 8-9 December WHERE Fountain Square, downtown Cincinnati OPENING HOURS Fri-Sat Noon-10pm; Sun Noon-5pm

3. Downtown Holiday Market (Washington DC)


Consistently ranked among America’s best Holiday Markets, and anyone who’s visited will testify as to why. Located on Washington’s F Street between 7th & 9th streets NW, outside the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum, it features a rotating selection of exhibitors and artisans offering fine art, crafts, jewellery, pottery, clothing, and specialty food items. The market takes place every day from mid-November all the way through to Christmas Eve. Visit the market website here. WHEN 24 November-23 December WHERE The sidewalk of F Street, NW between 7th and 9th Streets, in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery OPENING HOURS Noon-8pm Daily

4. Union Square Holiday Market (New York City)


While some Christmas markets are best suited for a quick wander, you could easily set aside an entire day to explore this internationally renowned version located in the heart of Manhattan. As well as a choice of more than 150 vendors showcasing handcrafted goods and unusual items, there’s also a whole host of entertainment, including a kid’s craft studio and live musical performances. Some great gift ideas to be found here include brew-your-own beer kits from the Brooklyn Brew Shop and monogrammed stuffed animals from Hazel Village. There’s also plenty of food and drink on offer, either to enjoy as you walk or to take home for the fridge or pantry. WHEN 16 November-24 December WHERE Union Square Park OPENING HOURS Noon-8pm Daily

5. Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival (Tomball, Texas)

A street festival, musical concert and open-air Christmas market all rolled into one. Visitors can tap their feet to well-known stage performers and carol singers while browsing the 175-plus vendors selling Christmas items, arts and crafts, and plenty more. There’s also a huge range of food and drink offerings, including mulled wine, beer, Christmas Stollen, bratwurst and sauerkraut. A dedicated kid’s area featuring carnival rides, bungee-jumping, a rock wall, a petting zoo and pony rides help keep little ones entertained for hours. WHEN 8-10 December WHERE Old Town Tomball Near the Historical Train Depot Plaza OPENING HOURS Fri 6pm-10pm; Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 10am-6pm

6. Columbus Circle Holiday Market (New York City)


This is one of the best known Christmas markets anywhere in the US, thanks in some measure to its iconic location at the entrance to Central Park. Visitors can – and very often do – lose themselves in the glittering array of aisles where art, jewellery, homeware and delicious food and drink are on display, much of which has been created by gifted artisans and independent designers. If you need help navigating your way around, dedicated on-site concierge staff will guide you to your preferred stalls. WHEN 28 November–24 December WHERE Columbus Circle, 59th Street and Central Park West OPENING HOURS Mon-Sat 10am-8pm Monday; Sun 10am-7pm

7. Christmas Village (Baltimore, Maryland)

Baltimore’s German Christmas market has been a fixture on the city’s winter calendar since 2013 and features thousands of lights, a giant Christmas Tree and enough traditional food to shake a stick at, including waffles, gingerbread and bratwurst. There’s indoor and outdoors areas, meaning those less inclined to brave the cold can always retreat to warmer environs thanks to a heated tent, underneath which you’ll find a food court and a diverse mix of stallholders selling holiday gifts, ornaments, jewellery, arts and crafts and much more.WHEN 23 November–24 December WHERE Inner Harbor, 501 Light Street Park OPENING HOURS Noon-8pm Daily

8. Germany Pavilion Epcot World Showcase (Orlando, Florida)


As you’d expect, Disney World pulls out all the stops when it comes to Christmas, with the entire resort transformed into a flamboyant festive extravaganza. At Epcot Center, the German Pavilion enters into the spirit of things by taking on the traditional role of a German Christmas market, with authentic toys and gifts available including felt hats, cow bells, original Black Forest Cuckoo clocks, hand painted eggs, beer steins, and the famous Steiff stuffed teddy bears. WHEN 25 November-23 December WHERE Epcot Centre, Walt Disney World OPENING HOURS 9am-9pm Daily

9. Christkindlmarket (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)

Held over five weeks and featuring more than 125 artisanal stall holders, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem positively oozes old-world charm. As well as an impressive range of gift ideas, there’s also the heart-warming sound of live Christmas music, plus impressive ice-sculpting demonstrations and giant playhouses, both of which help draw families with kids to the market. Visitors can expect to find beautiful glass art, handmade jewellery, wheel-thrown pottery, gourmet foods and hand-crafted candles, to name just a few goodies. WHEN 18-20 & 17 November-23 December WHERE Steel Stacks, 101 Founders Way OPENING HOURS Thurs & Sun 11am-6pm; Fri & Sat: 11am–8pm

10. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair (Daly City, San Francisco)


If you’re a fan of the works of Charles Dickens then this Christmas Fair may well be for you. The fair invites visitors to step back in time and experience Victorian London, where most of Dickens’ novels were set, all the way down to the hustle and bustle of its street markets. The event takes place at the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls which is transformed with improvised lamplit lanes, pubs and theatres, dance floors and music halls, tearooms and shops, plus hundreds of costumed characters. WHEN 18 November–17 December WHERE Cow Palace Exhibition Halls OPENING HOURS Sat & Sun 10am-7pm

11. Denver Christkindlmarkt (Colorado)

Ambling through festively decorated and illuminated streets, enjoying rides on old-fashioned carousels, buying handmade Christmas decorations, listening to German Christmas carols, and drinking hot spiced wine. This is just a taster of what awaits you at Denver’s highly popular Christkindlmarkt, which is organised each year by the German American Chamber of Commerce and the German Cultural Foundation. WHEN 17 November-23 December WHERE Skyline Park,16th Street Mall and Arapahoe OPENING HOURS Sun-Thurs 11am-7pm; Fri & Sat 11am-9pm

12. Christmas Village (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)


Taking place in the grounds of Philadelphia’s City Hall, this German-themed Christmas Village is renowned for its unique atmosphere thanks to the thousands of lights and live music performances of Christmas classics. As for things to buy, there are more than 80 stalls selling ornaments, toys, jewellery, and arts and crafts, while traditional European food and drink is in good supply with waffles, gingerbread, bratwurst and mulled wine tempting visitors into submission. WHEN 23 November-24 December WHERE City Hall, 1400 JFK Boulevard OPENING HOURS Sun-Thurs 11am-7pm; Fri-Sat 11am-8pm



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