It’s that time of year again. Grab your warm attire and get ready to celebrate Christmas in Chicago, German style!
For those of you who are not familiar with one of Chicago’s most popular traditions, Christkindlmarket is located in Daley Plaza for a few short weeks in November and December. Vendors from Germany, the United States, and other areas of the world set up shop and create a holiday wonderland.
Christkindlmarket is an old German tradition that began in Nurnberg, Germany. Vendors sell their specialty items from their stalls at these Christmas markets. Patrons walk the market admiring goods and purchasing items to add to their holiday decor and traditions.
Chicago has adopted this tradition and invites vendors from all over to participate. It’s a wonderful experience; you can shop and also speak to the friendly vendors who love sharing stories about their home town and how much they look forward to coming to Chicago to show off their goods. I love coming here and truly enjoy it. I do understand how overwhelming it can seem since it’s in the heart of Chicago during a busy time of year, so here are my tips to making your visit an enjoyable one!
1) Tanya’s Parking Tip
If you are traveling from the suburbs and you have kids under 7, I would suggest skipping public transportation and park your car in a nearby garage. A way to save money ahead of time at a nearby garage is to download the Spothero app. This will pin point areas with affordable parking, for any budget. I was able to find parking a block away for $13 and was able to stay parked for over 10 hours. Make sure you download this before parking in a garage. Sign up with SpotHero and save $5.
2) Christkindl with Kids: Kinder Speil
Kids can play a passport game. Before, you begin stop by the information stand and grab a passport for your kids. This is an awesome experience, you get to look at all the vendor’s goods and your kids are looking for the stands with the passport sign marked. It’s a win for all.
3) Staying Warm
Drink the traditional Gluehwine with or without alcohol. This always reminds me of when I was a kid growing up in Germany and going to the local Christkindle Markets. I had the Kinder Gluehwine (non alcoholic) and would walk the area trying to find an ornament for myself.
4) Eat up
I understand it is a little scary trying different food and it’s tempting to go somewhere else to eat, but I recommend eating at the market. There are lots of items to choose from; it could be a traditional Bratwurst on a bun, or something more extreme like a German favorite Mett (raw pork or beef minced with bacon on a bun). I am not a fan of Mett, but I remember my Mother eating this on occasion growing up in Germany. I decided to have curry wurst with fries. The portions are great and my four year old and I shared the dish and then went to get some dessert.
5) See where the vendors are from?
Take a moment and look outside the stall. There you will see where the vendor is from. I was so happy to find one from my birth town!
I was able to speak to them in German and get to tell them how I came to the United States and how I know the language. The vendors are so happy to be there and love talking about their hometowns. It is not often you can get the authenticity of certain country traditions, but Chicago got it correct by having Germans come here from Germany and showing a little piece of their world with local Americans.
6) Say Danke
Have a little bit of fun and say Danke (pronnounced dahn-ka) which is Thank you or say Hallo (prononnuced hollow) which means Hello in German. It makes the shopping experience more fun.
7) Shop until you drop!
Take notice of all the handmade trinkets and ornaments. My Son and I bought some wood ornaments from Munich and a glass blown ornament from Poland.
I love Christmas and how magical it is, and Christmas time in Germany was really special. I am beyond thrilled that Chicago has brought a piece of home close to me and allowed me to show my son how I grew up, and also share memories of doing the same thing with my parents. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!
Fröhliche Weihnachten! (Merry Christmas)