Despite the recent act of terror that hit a holiday market in Berlin, we won’t let that stop us from experiencing the seasonal cheer that is holiday market shopping.
Just because that market has been devastated doesn’t mean all of Germany’s Christmas spirit is; In fact, to honor the loss that took place at this traditional Christkindl market, we implore you to visit one of your local replications and take the time to enjoy and honor Germany in your hometown.
The North American versions of Germany’s historic markets have found a way to preserve and celebrate European heritage, recreating Old World charm by selling handcrafted items like wooden ornaments, Moravian stars and advent wreaths to decorate your home with. While traveling to Europe might be a bit far for some this Christmas season, here are five traditional Christkindl markets for you to visit this year in the U.S. and Canada.
1. Canandaigua Christkindl Market (Canandaigua, New York)
Set in Western New York State, the Finger Lakes brings the age-old German style Christmas festival to the tiny town on the tip of Canandaigua Lake. Each year, a series of decorated, heated tents are constructed where they serve traditional German food and “Gideon’s Grog” along with food and wine from the Finger Lakes. The Canandaigua Christkindl Market is held on the lawn of the Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum where a Christkindl Angel is crowned and proudly reigns over the event. Children also have the opportunity to attend Elf School where they can create holiday ornaments, conjure up a magical recipe for Santa’s reindeer or craft a paper lantern to use in the holiday parade.
2. Old World Christmas Market (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin)
Photo courtesy of Old World Christmas Market
Drawing its inspiration from Nuremberg, Germany, the Old World Christmas Market at the Osthoff Lake Resort lines their heated tents with rows of evergreens while serving German food like roasted almonds, glühwein, sauerbraten, dumplings, wiener schnitzel and Nuremberg bratwurst. The market attracts both local and international artisans selling traditional German hand-carved smokers and nutcrackers and other one-of-a-kind ornaments, apparel and decorative accents to help you bring the holiday spirit home.
3. Toronto Christmas Market (Toronto, Canada)
Photo by Caleigh Alleyne
The Toronto Christmas Market is held along the cobblestoned streets of the Historic Distillery District, much like those of Germany’s river towns. This year, the market has grown to line the pedestrian pathways with rows and rows of wooden huts selling gifts from around the world. While the most magical time to visit is just as the sun is setting, swing by earlier in the day for a chance to try some traditional German dishes along with experimental festival treats. This market also welcomes nightly entertainers to help get you into the Christmas spirit at the stage next to the 50-foot Norway spruce Christmas tree adorned with 18,000 lights. Santa also has his own hut where the young and old can snap a photo with Jolly Old St. Nick.
4. Christmas City (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)
Photo by Jonathan Davis
This year, the Christmas City market has expanded from two to four tents, each with a unique holiday theme, and a Bavarian Christmas Village Tent complete with St. Nicholas. This tradition has spanned over two decades and brings together 150 vendors inspired by German craftsman and culture over a warm cup of glühwein. The famous German Christmas shop Käthe Wohlfahrt will join the long list of vendors bringing décor and ornaments all the way from Germany. Guests can also enjoy live holiday music and watch local artisans as they craft thanks to a new glass-window tent where resident glass artists will be hard at work.
5. Marché de Noël Allemand de Québec (Québec City, Canada)
Photo courtesy of Québec Original
Even the French city of Québec is jumping on the German bandwagon. Le Marché de Noël Allemandde Québec welcomes choral singers and other musical acts for nightly performances in the Old Port. Pick up everything you need for the holidays from unique Christmas gifts to currywurst and bratwurst to heart-shaped gingerbread cookies.
Caleigh Alleyne is a travel and lifestyle writer and editor of The Creators Commune. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram.