When it comes to festive travel experiences, few things compare to the sights and smells of European Christmas markets. If you're not planning a trip to Europe this Christmas season, there are several worth visiting right here in the USA that feature traditional foods and handmade goods.
Christkindlmarket, Chicago, Illinois
November 18–December 24
One of Chicago's biggest yuletide attractions is its annual Christkindlmarket, inspired by the classic Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany. If you can ignore the Chicago landmarks around you, you really might believe you’ve been transported to Bavaria, with wooden stalls, handmade gifts, and the scents of gingerbread and bratwurst filling the air.
Christmas Village, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 19–December 24
Another German-inspired market, Philadelphia’s Christmas Village feels like a European wonderland with its dozens of wooden huts, illuminated beer garden, and thousands of twinkling lights. This year’s market has added a double-decker carousel and a German-food court, where visitors will find bratwurst, Belgian fries, warm plates of spatzle, and lots of beer and spiced wine. It’s the same time as the neighboring Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, so the area surrounding Love Park is busy with holiday cheer this time of year.
Savannah Christmas Market, Savannah, Georgia
November 25, 2022–January 2, 2023
Now in its third year, Savannah’s Christmas Market combines Austrian tradition with Southern charm. Here you’ll find a small collection of stalls lined up right along the river, selling mulled wine, beer, pretzels, and chocolate treats for the kids. There will also be a wide range of holiday-themed events this year, including a Tree Lighting Ceremony (November 25) and Savannah Harbor Boat Parade of Lights (November 26), as well as live music performances, children’s activities, photos with Santa, and more each night.
Kerstmarkt, Holland, Michigan
November 19, 25, 26, 29; December 2, 3, 9, 10
Holland, Michigan, is best known for its springtime tulip festivals, but the town celebrates its Dutch heritage just as heavily during the holidays. Its annual Kerstmarkt pays tribute to the Christmas markets that pop up all around the Netherlands in December, with food, drinks, and crafts sold across a variety of booths. The vendors offer a mix of traditional Dutch cuisine and local Michigan treats.
Solvang Julefest, Solvang, California
November 26, 2022–January 6, 2023
If you can’t make it to the Christmas festivities at Tivoli Gardens this year, you can still get a fix of Danish culture at Solvang Julefest, an annual celebration held in the town of Solvang, which calls itself “the Danish capital of America.” For more than a month, the city’s downtown area transforms into a charming Christmas village straight from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, complete with glogg and brunkager (Christmas cookies), visits with Santa, and scavenger hunts to find the mysterious Solvang nisse-basically the Danish version of Elf on the Shelf.
Scandinavian Christmas Fair, Raleigh, North Carolina
This fair brings Scandinavia to Raleigh with traditional folk dances, visits with Tomten (Santa), and gifts ranging from Norwegian sweaters to painted gnomes. This year marks the 26th anniversary of the Julmarknad (“Christmas market” in Swedish), and is a great reason to try Swedish meatballs, pea soup, glogg, and kanelbulle (cinnamon buns).
Apres Ski Holiday Market at Dairy Block, Denver, Colorado
November 25-27; December 2-4, 9-11, 16-18
Denver’s Christkindlmarket (November 18–December 23) tends to get most of the attention during the holidays, but don’t bypass the city’s smaller markets- especially the Apres Ski Holiday Market at Dairy Block, a trendy complex that has restaurants, bars, shops, and a hotel. This charming market pop-up, inspired by Swiss ski villages, premiered last Christmas and is back again with blue and white lights that transform Dairy Block Alley into a winter wonderland. You’ll feel like you just left the slopes as you enjoy wine and cheese or hot cocoa in a heated igloo.