The hubby and I recently were able to take a wonderful little trip to Chicago. It was our first time visiting the Windy City at Christmas time and we had an absolute amazing time. So many memories were made as we crammed as many things into our short time there that we possibly could.
The inspiration behind this getaway was to experience something unique that not only would we enjoy but also something I could share with others. A friend recommended Chicago as a great destination, specifically Chicago’s Christkindlmarket.
I had never heard of this so my curiosity was definitely piqued. So what started as a interesting thought snowballed into a great vacation. See what I did there, just a little winter humor for ya!
What is a Christkindlmarket you ask? Well, it is a German holiday market, but that is just the beginning. The market is named after the Christkind, who according to German folklore, is the bearer of gifts to the children in most German speaking countries. She is a fairy-like character with sparkly clothes and a crown, very different from our Santa Claus.
There are currently three markets in Chicago. We attended the original Chicago Christkindlmarket that is located in downtown Chicago at Daley Plaza. There are also markets at Wrigley Field and another at Naperville.
We were able to go to the market on the opening day. Unfortunately it was not only cold but raining as well making conditions for an open air market less than ideal. However this didn’t stop people from coming out in droves.
One of the biggest attractions at the market was the Glühwein, German mulled wine. Even though it was before noon and I don’t care for wine I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try some authentic German libations. Being that it was cold, I appreciated the fact that the wine was served hot but that’s about the only positive thing I can say. But I’m definitely in the minority with that opinion because there were tons of people enjoying the wine.
Another reason I wanted the wine was because it was served in the annual souvenir mug. Many of the visitors to the market attend every year and are always adding to their collection.
We decided to pair our spiced wine with some yummy baked goodies. With over 20 different food vendors to choose from we ultimately opted for the strudel and stollen. After getting warm and filling out bellies we were ready to keep exploring.
One of my favorite shops was the ornament house. There were hundreds of different glass decorations, one for absolutely every possible Christmas theme you can imagine. As a matter of fact I purchased a cowboy ornament as well as a sea shell ornament. Souvenirs that will always remind me of our time at the Christkindlmarket.
The hubby’s favorite shop was a chocolate vendor. We didn’t sample the chocolate but just looking at the sweets was enough. They were true works of art.
Although it s a German market there were vendors from many different places. There were Nativity scenes from Bethlehem, Israel as well as specialty items from Nepal and Peru. The Belgium hot chocolate was absolutely divine!
The market not only helps people understand how different cultures celebrate the holidays but also allows families to come together and create new traditions. There are a lot of activities for children at the market making it extremely family friendly. There are even visits from the Christkind herself with opportunities for photos, just like our pictures with Santa.
Shopping for mom, food for dad and crafts and fun for the kids. What more can you want? A little tip for you – bring cash. A lot of the vendors don’t take credit cards and the only ATM there wasn’t working during our visit.
I hope to one day visit Germany in person, but this is probably as close as I will get for a very long time. Opportunities like this one really make me realize how much I want to experience all that this world has to offer. Me and the hubby just continuing to collect memories as we go.