Holiday mugs and German inspired cheer fill the air at annual Chicago Christkindlmarket

By Bianca Kreusel and Elizabeth Rymut

Strong smells of roasted nuts, schnitzel and German baked goods filled the air at Chicago’s Daley Plaza for the annual Christkindlmarket. People of all ages held blue mugs with little city skylines wrapped around them filled with hot cocoa or tangy German apple cider. Lights filled the walkways throughout the plaza, and many were smiling and spending time with their loved ones.

Inspired by German and European traditions, the Christkindlmarket has been a part of Christmas celebrations since the 16th century, starting in 1545 in Nuremberg, Germany. Chicago held its first event in 1996, then hosted at Pioneer Court, and now holds the annual holiday market at Daley Plaza, at the suggestion of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

After becoming a successful attraction and hosting over a million tourists annually, the market has since expanded and added locations in Wrigleyville starting in 2017 and in suburban Aurora this year.

Chicago’s Christkindlmarket is now the largest holiday market in the U.S. and the most authentic traditional holiday market of its kind outside of Europe.