A green trolley decorated with Christmas lights is surrounded by people on a snowy street during a holiday parade at dusk.

Midwest Christmas Markets: Top Festive Destinations to Visit

As the holiday season approaches, the Midwest transforms into a festive wonderland with European-style Christmas markets that rival those across the Atlantic.

You’ll find an array of markets brimming with holiday spirit, traditional crafts, and mouthwatering treats.

From twinkling lights to live music, these markets offer an enchanting experience perfect for the whole family.

Snow-covered wooden stalls line the cobblestone streets, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Shoppers browse through handmade crafts and savor the aroma of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts

One must-visit destination is the Christkindlmarket in Chicago, Illinois. It captures the essence of a German Christmas market with beautifully decorated stalls and a vast selection of delicious foods and handmade gifts.

Another gem is the Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, where you can enjoy Norwegian cuisine, children’s activities, and even a festive train ride.

For a more intimate yet equally charming option, head to Carmel Christkindlmarkt in Indiana. This market boasts a stunning 33-foot-tall Christmas Pyramid and a delightful outdoor skating rink.

Each of these markets provides a unique, magical experience that brings the joy and tradition of a European Christmas to the heart of the Midwest.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • The Midwest offers authentic European-style Christmas markets.
  • Highlights include Christkindlmarkets in Chicago and Carmel, and the Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake.
  • These markets feature traditional crafts, foods, and festive activities for all ages.

Christkindlmarket Chicago, Illinois

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Christkindlmarket in Chicago, Illinois, is a cherished tradition that brings German holiday cheer to the Midwest. You’ll find a wealth of history, unique attractions, and must-visit stops at this festive event.

History and Significance

Christkindlmarket Chicago, held at Daley Plaza, began in 1996. Inspired by the Nuremberg Christmas market in Germany, it has become an essential part of Chicago’s holiday season.

Originally, the market was meant to boost trade between Germany and the U.S., but it quickly turned into a beloved local tradition.

The market represents a cultural bridge, showcasing German heritage through traditional foods, drinks, and gifts. Daley Plaza, with its iconic Picasso statue, provides a distinctive backdrop, adding to the market’s charm.

Unique Features

The market hosts about 50 vendors offering authentic German treats and crafts. From bratwurst to hand-blown glass ornaments, the variety is impressive.

You can enjoy live music and entertainment, which enhances the festive atmosphere.

Wrigleyville hosts a smaller edition of Christkindlmarket, featuring the same enchanting elements in a more intimate setting. These markets are designed to be family-friendly and are always free to enter.

One standout attraction is the “Kinder Club” for children. It includes passport scavenger hunts, storytelling, and crafts, making it a delightful part of the visit for families.

Must-Visit Stops

At Daley Plaza, the main attraction is the Grand Tree, adorned with thousands of twinkling lights. Nearby, you’ll find vendors selling handcrafted ornaments, a perfect souvenir to remember your trip.

Don’t miss out on the Glühwein Haus, where you can enjoy warm spiced wine served in collectible mugs.

Millennium Park is another stop, offering a skating rink and beautiful holiday lights just a short walk away.

For a unique shopping experience, visit the vendors with traditional German cuckoo clocks. Each item tells a story of craftsmanship and tradition, making them a special holiday gift.

Old World Christmas Market, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

A festive Old World Christmas Market with wooden stalls, twinkling lights, and snowy rooftops in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, offers a festive holiday experience inspired by traditional European markets. Located at The Osthoff Resort, it blends cultural charm with unique shopping opportunities.

History and Significance

The Old World Christmas Market at Elkhart Lake is held annually at The Osthoff Resort. Modeled after the centuries-old Christkindlesmarkt of Nüremberg, Germany, it began 26 years ago.

This market was voted #5 Best Holiday Market by USA Today’s Readers’ Choice in 2023.

The event highlights European-style holiday traditions and fosters a sense of community. Family-friendly and open to all ages, it draws visitors from across the Midwest and beyond.

Unique Features

One of the standout features of the Old World Christmas Market is its variety of high-quality, artisanal goods. You can find a wide range of products including handcrafted glass ornaments, intricate wood carvings, and festive decorations.

Another unique element is the heated tent that houses vendors, ensuring a comfortable shopping experience regardless of the weather.

Traditional German foods, like bratwurst and schnitzel, are available, adding authenticity to the atmosphere.

Daily entertainment, including live music and performances, enhances the festive spirit.

Must-Visit Stops

While exploring the market, several stops are essential.

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Be sure to visit the booths selling handblown glass ornaments—these are both beautiful and make for perfect gifts.

The European-style food stalls are a must for anyone wanting to taste authentic holiday treats.

The central feature of the market is the large Christmas tree at the heart of The Osthoff Resort’s grounds, ideal for festive photos.

Finally, don’t miss out on the chance to join a horse-drawn carriage ride, which offers a picturesque tour of the resort’s winter landscape. These experiences capture the magical essence of the Old World Christmas Market.

Carmel Christkindlmarkt, Carmel, Indiana

The Carmel Christkindlmarkt bustles with festive activity, as visitors explore charming wooden stalls filled with holiday treats, crafts, and decorations. Twinkling lights and the scent of mulled wine fill the air, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere

Carmel Christkindlmarkt in Carmel, Indiana, brings the charm of a European holiday market to the Midwest with German food, hand-crafted gifts, and festive activities. You can explore its history, unique features, and must-visit stops for an unforgettable experience.

History and Significance

The Carmel Christkindlmarkt was founded in 2017 with backing from the City of Carmel and Mayor James Brainard. Since then, it has become one of the top holiday markets in the United States. The market has won the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice award for Best Holiday Market several times.

This market attracts over a million visitors, making it a significant event for the local community. It celebrates the holiday traditions of Europe while creating a festive atmosphere for all ages.

Unique Features

One of the standout features is the Bavarian-style setting with wooden huts illuminated by twinkling lights.

Products are sourced directly from Germany, including wooden toys, nutcrackers, and ornaments, offering an authentic European market feel.

Another unique aspect is the ice skating rink, a popular attraction for families.

You can enjoy German foods like bratwurst and pretzels, as well as mulled wine, creating a truly immersive experience.

Live music and performances add to the festive atmosphere. These elements combined make Carmel Christkindlmarkt a special destination during the holiday season.

Must-Visit Stops

When visiting, make sure to stop by the various wooden stalls that sell imported German crafts.

Look for traditional nutcrackers and hand-made ornaments that add a European touch to your holiday decor.

The ice skating rink is a must-visit, offering rental skates and festive lights, making it perfect for an evening skate.

Don’t miss the food stalls where you can try bratwurst, pretzels, and mulled wine.

The live performances featuring holiday music are also essential stops, providing joyful tunes that enhance your visit.

Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade and Holiday Market, Lawrence, Kansas

The Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade and Holiday Market features festive floats, twinkling lights, and bustling market stalls

Experience the magic of the holiday season in Lawrence, Kansas with joyful parades, festive Christmas trees, and a charming holiday market. This event features historic traditions, unique attractions, and must-visit vendors.

History and Significance

The Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade marks a cherished tradition that started 30 years ago.

Held on the first Saturday in December, this parade brings a nostalgic charm with horse-drawn wagons making their way down Massachusetts Street.

This event began as a way to share the quaint holiday spirit with the community. Its popularity has grown, and it now attracts visitors from all over Kansas and beyond. The parade celebrates local history and the joy of the holiday season with a unique, old-fashioned twist.

Unique Features

The parade features a lineup of enchanting horse-drawn carriages, and real horses! This makes it stand out among other holiday parades across the country. No motor vehicles allowed here.

At 11 a.m., nearly 100 carriages and wagons decked out in holiday decorations make their way down Massachusetts Street.

As they pass, you can enjoy the bustling atmosphere filled with the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and festive cheers from the crowd.

Adding to the festive atmosphere are vibrant holiday decorations that include beautifully lit Christmas trees. You’ll feel the holiday magic in every step!

Must-Visit Stops

Don’t forget to explore the holiday market that complements the parade.

Here, you’ll find a variety of vendors selling handmade crafts, seasonal treats, and unique gifts.

Be sure to check out the locally owned restaurants offering hot cocoa and warm meals, perfect for staying cozy.

Notable spots include art galleries, coffee houses, and quirky shops that line Massachusetts Street.

As you stroll through the market, you’ll find unique holiday decorations and keepsakes to bring home.

It’s a great opportunity to support local businesses and find special items you won’t get anywhere else.

Christkindlmarkt, Excelsior, Minnesota

Colorful stalls line the snowy streets, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. The air is filled with the scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, as visitors browse through handcrafted ornaments and traditional holiday treats

Christkindlmarkt in Excelsior, Minnesota, is one of the Midwest’s most iconic Christmas markets.

Modeled after traditional European Christmas markets, it brings a unique blend of festive cheer, cultural experiences, and handcrafted gifts.

History and Significance

Excelsior’s Christkindlmarkt began two decades ago and has become a cherished tradition.

Its roots are inspired by the famous German Christmas markets, known for their open-air stalls and festive atmosphere.

Held annually during the weekend after Thanksgiving, this event draws visitors from across the Midwest.

For three days, the town transforms into a winter wonderland, celebrating Bavarian culture and holiday spirit.

This market plays a significant role in boosting local tourism and bringing the community together.

Unique Features

This Christmas market stands out for its array of Bavarian-inspired activities.

You’ll see traditional performances, such as caroling by the Minnetonka High School Choir and reindeer appearances.

The market also includes a Grande Parade on Water Street, where characters like Father Christmas and Krampus make an appearance.

The event offers a variety of food options, showcasing Bavarian cuisine, and holiday treats like gingerbread and mulled wine.

In addition to its performances and culinary delights, the market prides itself on its family-friendly environment.

Crafted with families in mind, activities abound for children, making it an ideal destination for a festive family outing.

Must-Visit Stops

When exploring Christkindlmarkt, several stops should be on your list.

First, don’t miss the Grande Parade, a highlight event featuring the Enchanted Princess Beauty and various festive characters.

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Visit the numerous stalls offering unique, handcrafted gifts such as ornaments and festive décor. These make perfect holiday souvenirs and presents.

Finally, indulge in the local food offerings.

Traditional Bavarian treats and other festive foods are abundant and add to the market’s charmed atmosphere. Each dish provided at the market connects you to the rich cultural tapestry that defines this event.

Yuletide Village, Renaissance Park, Ohio

A festive Yuletide village in Renaissance Park, Ohio. Midwest Christmas markets bustling with holiday cheer and twinkling lights

Yuletide Village at Renaissance Park offers a special blend of history, holiday cheer, and unique attractions.

You’ll find festive shows, delicious food, and amazing gifts, creating a perfect holiday experience.

History and Significance

The Yuletide Village is set in the charming Renaissance Park, located in Warren County, Ohio. This area is also home to the famous Ohio Renaissance Festival.

First launched to offer a Renaissance-style holiday experience, the village aims to transport visitors back to the 16th century.

Historical re-enactments and period-appropriate settings give you a glimpse into how the holidays might have been celebrated centuries ago.

It’s a place where history comes alive, allowing you to immerse yourself in an era of knights, artisans, and festive traditions.

Unique Features

One of the most notable aspects of Yuletide Village is its blend of festive and historical elements.

The village features twinkling holiday lights and a beautiful market with unique, handcrafted gifts.

There is also a light show that illuminates the night sky, creating a magical atmosphere.

The village is known for its live music, from traditional carols to lively Renaissance tunes.

In addition, you can enjoy holiday-themed food and drinks that add to the festive spirit.

Special appearances by Santa Claus and Krampus, a creature from folklore, make it an exciting visit for all ages.

Must-Visit Stops

While exploring Yuletide Village, make sure to visit some key attractions.

The Yuletide Market is a must-see, filled with unique and artisanal gifts perfect for holiday shopping.

The light show dazzles visitors with vibrant displays that capture the magic of the season.

Don’t miss the live music stage, where you can enjoy festive performances that add cheer to your visit.

Lastly, a visit isn’t complete without meeting Santa Claus and Krampus. Their appearances add an extra layer of holiday excitement, ideal for creating family memories.

Festival of Lights, St. Louis, Missouri

Colorful lights adorn market stalls at St. Louis Christmas festival. Crowds browse festive wares beneath twinkling displays

The Festival of Lights in St. Louis, Missouri, kicks off the holiday season with stunning lights, festive activities, and memorable performances. Here’s everything you need to know about this must-visit Christmas event.

History and Significance

The Festival of Lights dates back to 1986.

It’s a renowned tradition in St. Louis, hosted at Kiener Plaza in downtown. This event marks the official start of the holiday season and is free for everyone.

One of its core elements is the lighting of The Salvation Army Tree of Lights. This tree symbolizes hope and community spirit.

For years, it has drawn locals and tourists alike who come to witness the dazzling light display.

The significance of the Festival of Lights goes beyond just the decorations.

It fosters a sense of togetherness and joy among attendees.

The lighting ceremony often includes special guests and a mix of live entertainment.

You can expect performances from local choirs and bands, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Unique Features

One of the highlights of the festival is the spectacular fireworks show.

As fireworks light up the night sky, the crowd is left in awe. This visual display is a favorite among families and photographers alike, providing fantastic photo opportunities.

Another key attraction is the presence of Santa Claus.

Kids can meet Santa and share their Christmas wishes, creating lasting holiday memories.

Additionally, the festival offers various kid-friendly activities such as craft stations and interactive games.

The entire Kiener Plaza is decked out in beautiful Christmas decorations.

From elaborately decorated trees to sparkling light tunnels, every inch of the plaza shines with holiday spirit.

The festival also features live ice carving demonstrations, adding a unique artistic touch to the event.

Must-Visit Stops

While at the Festival of Lights, make sure to visit The Salvation Army Tree of Lights. This central piece is not to be missed.

Another must-visit spot is the stage area where live performances take place. These shows are entertaining and showcase local talent.

Be sure to stop by the booths and stalls scattered around Kiener Plaza.

They offer holiday treats, hot chocolate, and unique Christmas gifts. These stalls add a traditional market feel to the event.

Christkindl Market, Arlington Heights, Illinois

Colorful stalls line snowy streets, selling festive ornaments and steaming hot drinks. Twinkling lights illuminate the joyful atmosphere of the Christkindl Market

Christkindl Market in Arlington Heights offers a unique holiday experience.

You can enjoy traditional German treats, shop for unique gifts, and explore various festive attractions.

History and Significance

Christkindl Market in Arlington Heights is an extension of the famed Christkindlmarket in Chicago, which started in 1996.

It follows the same theme of bringing a German-style Christmas market to Illinois.

The market captures the spirit of traditional European holiday markets, making it a must-visit for anyone in the area.

By recreating the authentic atmosphere with festive decorations and specialty vendors, it has become a beloved holiday event in the community.

Unique Features

When you visit the Christkindl Market in Arlington Heights, you’ll find a variety of authentic German treats and crafts.

One of the highlights is the mulled wine, known as Glühwein, which is served in decorative mugs that many collectors cherish.

You can also find handmade ornaments, wooden toys, and intricate glassware.

The festive lights and decorations, along with live music performances, add to the unique charm of the market.

Must-Visit Stops

Mulled Wine Booth: Your visit isn’t complete without trying the warm mulled wine, served in collectible mugs.

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Gift Shops: Browse stalls filled with unique gifts like handcrafted ornaments and traditional German toys.

Food Stands: Don’t miss out on German treats such as pretzels, sausages, and baked goods. The variety of food options ensures there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Downtown Holiday Market, Des Moines, Iowa

Crowds browse festive stalls at the Downtown Holiday Market, Des Moines, Iowa. Lights twinkle, and the aroma of hot cocoa fills the air

The Downtown Holiday Market in Des Moines, Iowa, is an annual event that draws locals and visitors for its festive atmosphere.

It offers a blend of live music, artistic crafts, and unique holiday gifts, setting the stage for a memorable holiday shopping experience.

History and Significance

The Downtown Holiday Market has grown to be a beloved tradition in Des Moines.

Held annually at Principal Park, it began as a small winter gathering and has evolved into a major event.

The market is known for celebrating local artisans and fostering a sense of community.

Over the years, it has supported small businesses, providing them with a platform to reach a wider audience during the festive season.

This market is also a vital part of Des Moines’ holiday spirit, bringing together diverse vendors and shoppers in the heart of the city.

Unique Features

One of the market’s standout features is its beautiful setting at Principal Park.

The park transforms into a winter wonderland with twinkling lights and festive decorations.

You can enjoy live music performances that range from local bands to holiday choirs, adding to the cheerful atmosphere.

Another highlight is the variety of arts and crafts available; you can find everything from handmade ornaments to unique jewelry.

The market is designed to be family-friendly, with activities for kids and hot cocoa stands scattered throughout the area, making it a delightful outing for all ages.

Must-Visit Stops

When you visit the Downtown Holiday Market, there are several stops you shouldn’t miss.

Start at the artisan stalls, where local vendors showcase handcrafted goods perfect for holiday gifts.

Look for the live music stage, where you can enjoy festive tunes while you shop.

Make sure to visit the food stalls, offering seasonal treats like gingerbread cookies and warm cider.

Don’t miss the arts and crafts booths, where you can pick up unique decorations to add a touch of Des Moines charm to your holiday decor.

Christmas in the Village, Columbus, Ohio

Snow-covered village with twinkling lights, decorated stalls, and a towering Christmas tree. Families gather around bonfires, sipping hot cocoa and enjoying festive music

Christmas in the Village in Columbus, Ohio, offers a historical experience, unique decorations, and must-visit stops. This festive event is a delightful journey through time and tradition.

History and Significance

Christmas in the Village traces its roots back to the mid-19th century. Ohio Village, a recreated 1860s town, hosts this event every year. It’s a cherished tradition for locals and visitors alike.

The village transforms with holiday decorations, allowing you to step back in time and experience Christmas as it was celebrated in the past. This event is central to Columbus’s holiday season, providing not just entertainment but a connection to the region’s history.

Unique Features

One of the event’s highlights is the lighting of the village. The old-fashioned street lamps and festively adorned houses create a magical atmosphere.

Don’t miss the period-appropriate carolers singing traditional songs. The costumed interpreters add authenticity, performing tasks as they would in the 19th century.

Activities for children include making Victorian crafts and a visit with St. Nicholas. They’ll feel like they’ve entered a holiday wonderland straight from the history books.

Must-Visit Stops

Make sure to visit the Village Shop, where you can find handmade ornaments and gifts.

The blacksmith shop is another stop worth visiting to see live demonstrations. Ada’s Kitchen offers hot drinks and sweet treats to warm you up.

If you’re interested in history, the church hosts storytelling sessions about Christmas traditions. Santa’s Candy Castle is a favorite among younger visitors, offering an array of sweets and a chance to meet Santa Claus himself.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bustling Christmas market in the Midwest, with colorful stalls, twinkling lights, and festive decorations, surrounded by joyful shoppers and the scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts

Discover the best times and locations for Christmas markets in the Midwest, including notable festive spots in Chicago and Nebraska. You’ll find specific details on traditional markets and how to locate one near you.

What are the dates for the top Christmas markets in the Midwest?

The dates for Christmas markets in the Midwest vary. For example, Carmel’s Christkindlmarkt in Indiana runs from November 18 to December 24, 2023.

Many other markets typically open in mid-November and close just before Christmas.

Where can I find a traditional German Christmas market in Ohio?

If you’re looking for a traditional German Christmas market in Ohio, Columbus and Cincinnati offer some of the best options.

These markets feature authentic German crafts, food, and entertainment, providing a true European holiday experience.

How can I locate Christmas markets near my location?

To find Christmas markets near you, online resources and local event calendars are helpful.

Websites and local tourism boards often list market dates and locations. Social media can also provide updates and reviews from visitors.

What are the notable Christmas markets to visit in Nebraska?

Nebraska hosts several charming Christmas markets. In Omaha, the German-American Society’s Christmas Market is a notable event.

You can enjoy traditional crafts, festive food, and seasonal entertainment at this market.

When does the Christkindlmarket in Chicago take place?

Chicago’s Christkindlmarket is one of the most famous in the Midwest. It usually starts around mid-November and continues until December 24.

The market is set in Daley Plaza and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

What are some prominent Christmas markets to visit in the USA?

In addition to Midwest markets, there are many other festive markets across the USA.

You can find options in cities like New York, such as the Union Square Holiday Market, or check out the top markets listed on christmasmarketusa.com.

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