5 Great American Christmas Markets

God Bless America Christmas decoration

Written by Alexia Dellner

T’is the season for snow and stockings, lights and love, cakes and carols, mistletoe and mulled wine, and of course, that traditional Christmas pastime– shopping.

What better place to get into the holiday spirit than at a festive Christmas market? We present five of the best American towns and cities to spend your holiday cash and spread your Christmas cheer in.

1. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Christmas Market

Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, the windy city has been hosting its very own Christmas festival in Daley Plaza since 1997. Christkindlmarket Chicago features carollers, brass ensembles, over 50 holiday vendors and plenty of festive events such as sugar art demonstrations, a lantern parade and musical theatre.

From bratwurst to glühwein, this is the place to get your German Christmas market fix stateside. So go ahead, grab yourself a stein beer and say, “Fröhliche Weihnachten!”

Dates: November 26 – December 24, 2013

Festive fact: Many of the vendors actually come from Germany themselves, so those cuckoo clocks, nutcrackers and hand-blown glass ornaments are the real deal!

Need a place to stay? Check out our cheap Chicago hostels and hotels (starting €12.87pppn @ Chicago Getaway Hostel)

2. New York City, New York

Christmas in New York City

There are a number of Christmas markets in the Big Apple, but the nineteenth annual Union Square Holiday Market boasts over 100 retailers coming from all over the world. It gets pretty busy in this downtown market, but the handcrafted gifts and artisan food vendors are worth the crowds.

Dates: November 21 – December 24, 2013

Festive fact: Smartphone users can download a here. app for an interactive map of the market, vendor profiles, event calendars and even discounts and deals. Christmas market + technology = stress free shopping!

Need a place to stay? Check out our cheap NYC hostels and hotels (starting €28.34pppn @ Jazz on the Park)

3. San Francisco, California

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair San Francisco

Ever wish you could step back into Victorian London and experience Christmas the old fashioned way? Well at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, you can do just that! For five weekends a year, Cow Palace in Daly City transforms into a Dickens village complete with hops, pubs, tea rooms, lecture halls, theaters, a music hall, and over 700 actors dressed in period costume.

This is the perfect place to pick up something truly unique like antique maps, handcrafted magic wands, and proper bonnets – a gift for crazy Aunt Liz perhaps?

Dates: November 23 – December 22, 2013 (weekends only)

Festive fact: The only market on our list that charges an admission fee ($25), it’s also recommended that patrons dress up to attend. But please note, organisers ask that you do not wear clothing representative of a central Dickensian character – especially Ebenezer Scrooge, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present & Future, Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria  or Father Christmas.

Need a place to stay? Check out our cheap San Francisco hostels and hotels (starting  14.91pppn @ Union Square Backpackers)

4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Christmas Village Philadelphia

Another market inspired by the famous Nuremberg Christkindlmarket, Philly’s downtown Christmas Village in LOVE Park features more than 60 wooden booths, thousands of lights and a giant Christmas tree. It may only be six years old (not quite as impressive Europe’s markets dating back to the Middle Ages) but the market is one of Philadelphia’s main holiday attractions.

Hats, jewellery, Christmas ornaments, arts and crafts, toys, mulled wine and cakes- pick up gifts for everyone in the family in one place!

Dates: November 28 2013 – January 1, 2014

Festive fact: Head down on a Friday and you could save $2 on a visit to Santa.

Need a place to stay? Check out our cheap Philadelphia hostels and hotels (starting 16.41pppn @ Knight’s Inn Trevose)

5. Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth Christmas Washington

Never heard of Leavenworth? Maybe that’s not so surprising considering it’s a town of less than 2,000 people! But this picturesque reproduction of a Bavarian village may just be the most Christmassy town in America.

The charming Alpine village comes alive during the month of December with lighting ceremonies, food booths, sleigh rides, and Christmas characters wandering the streets. Instead of a single market, the entire village embraces the season and transforms into a Bavarian Christmas Village.

Dates: November 29-December 1 2013

Festive fact: Leavenworth has a Nutcracker Museum with over 6,000 nutcrackers. If that doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit, then maybe the sound of an alpine horn that greets residents every morning will!

Need a place to stay? Check out our cheap Seattle hostels and hotels (starting 15.65pppn @ AAE Hostel Seattle)

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Thanks to miss-britt, Sandra Pierce, LabrynthX, rox sm, Kevin Burkett and Tracey Vierra for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.

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