My friend Elizabeth and her husband, Josh, are the kind of people who love street fairs. They’ve been to a strawberry festival in their home state of Florida, a spam festival (yes, spam!) on vacation in Hawaii and, of course, there was that kumquat festival Elizabeth and I toured back in January.

So when they said they’d be in town Thanksgiving weekend, you can probably guess where we planned to meet. Because when it’s late November in Chicago, there may not be fresh produce, but there is an annual tradition built around tents of German food and imported shopping: We spent the afternoon at the Christkindlmarket.

Yesterday afternoon, the weather was unusually warm (40s, I think?) and there was no snow, but there was a lot of food. Boy, was there. Bratwurst, potato pancakes, goulash, Bavarian pretzels, fried dough, spiced nuts, mulled wine, imported beer, candy, chocolate…. If you’re from Chicago, the market’s open through December 24 right outside Daley Plaza, so there’s still time to check it out; if you’re not, well, get comfortable—I’m taking you with me through a photo journey of what it offers:

german christkindlmarket

chicago christkindlmarket

people at market

Inside a booth

free taste of stollen

bite of stollen


josh's sandwich

kim and scott's pretzel


pecan praline strudel

people eating


hand-crafted wood ornaments

german gifts to buy

christmas tree daley plaza

For information about the market, check out the market’s website.

My full Flickr album of photos is here.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Alicia

    AHHHHHHH this is my favorite day of the year when my mom and I go to this!!!! What did you have to eat? What was your fave? We always get the wiener schnitzel sandwich with potato pancakes (last year I got the pancakes with smoked salmon and chive sour cream and it was soooo good) and usually a spiced wine or a beer, which knocks my mom out after one. And we always leave with a ton of marzipan and sometimes the nuts because they smell so darn good. Can’t WAIT to go!

  2. heather

    I’ve only been to the Christkindlmarkt once, and I am so ready to return! Lebkuchen, the craftsmanship, German carols… I’d be standing in that free taste of stollen line all day long (with different disguises, of course)! Thanks for the photo tour.



  3. Shannalee

    Alicia, I remember your talking about it before! I hadn’t been in the last few years, so it was nice to be back (especially with no snow). As far as what I ate… bites of things other people got, mostly. : ) Sugared cashews, a donut, a bite of strudel, half a sourdough pretzel. Elizabeth and I were laughing about how very unhealthy and not-organic the options were, ha!

    Heather, German carols? How did I miss that? Sounds charming.

  4. clare

    Shanna, I’m about to go to Germany in a few weeks, to celebrate the holidays with the best of friends, and I am so much looking forward to the markets! How exciting to see your pictures! I love them, as always. Enjoy this beautiful season! :)

  5. Evan@sweets

    This market looks absolutely like a delicious time! I love everything about Germany… especially the food. A street fair like this is definitely a good substitute when you can’t get to the country. So jealous of all the dishes you got to munch on!

  6. Jessica

    I LOVE the Christkindlmarkt! I was there on Saturday and it was so much fun. The food is delish, especially the bavarian pretzels and toasted almonds. I’m snacking on some now.

  7. Maddie

    I’m in love with this place! And unfortunately, I haven’t been there since a German-studying classmate brought me in high school. Your photos capture the essence of the Christkindlmarket, though—really, really lovely, Shannalee.

  8. Shannalee

    Clare, Christmas in Germany! That sounds like so much fun! Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

    Evan, I know! One of the best things about living near a big city is all the opportunities for different kinds of food.

    Jessica, One day apart! Would have been awesome to spot you in the crowd. : )

    Maddie, You’re (always) so sweet. Thank you!

  9. rebecca

    street fairs are the best. i’m so envious. and glad the temperature didn’t make your visit miserable. what were the deep-fried items sprinkled with powdered sugar? love your photos, you really captured the feel of the street fair.

  10. Lollie

    This looks absolutely wonderful! I wish i had one nearby.

  11. Janina

    It’s so cute to see you guys talk so excited about the kind of market that here pops up in every hick town in advent. Funny to see something like that. I’m glad you like it, though.

    Greetings from Germany!

  12. Susan

    I love your photos!

  13. Lisa

    OH. MY. GOD. I love this. I am Austrian and German and these are so much fun to go to for me even though the food doesn’t compare to homemade (at least the markts i’ve been to in the US). There is nothing like an open air market in Germany or Austria. Please tell me you had gluhwein and stollen!?
    You’re pictures are wonderful (as usual), I hope you had fun!

  14. Anne Zimmerman

    Reminds me of descriptions of the holiday squares in France and Germany I read in M.F.K. Fisher’s letters while I was doing research for my book! Lovely, lovely. I almost feel like I was there.

  15. Shannalee

    Rebecca, They were called snowballs, essentially donuts!

    Lollie, Thanks!

    Janina, Ha! It’s funny how things in our own backyards never seem as special as those from other countries. Thanks for your perspective as a German!

    Susan, Thank you!

    Lisa, Ha! I definitely had stollen (hello? free tasting?), and Joshua had the gluhwein, which, how cute is this, came in a little red Christmas-boot mug. : )

    Anne, How nice! I feel like I need more MFK in my life.

  16. retro sweets

    Ahh, this post makes me envious because whilst you’re all enjoying all those treats, I still have to work. Even so I love the ornaments and those cute little statues!

  17. Shannalee

    Retro, Aw, well the good news is it’s already Thursday! Hope you get some time to relax soon. : )

  18. Angela@spinachtiger

    You need cold weather for that kind of food. I love street fairs too.

  19. retro sweets

    Never did Shannalee. I had to deal with the laundry on Saturday and have to take my son to the barber because his Dad “experimented” on his haircut. Yesterday we practiced our dance for the Christmas presentation and because I lack exercise I went home with aching limbs. :( Anyway, I’m going over your soup and sandwich posts today. :)

  20. Shannalee

    Angela, So true! I hear Nashville’s getting its share of cold right now!

    Retro, Aw, bummer. Maybe some soup will be the relaxation you need!

  21. Stephanie

    I took a trip to Chicago for a winter weekend in 2005 and went to the Christkindlmarkt — I absolutely loved it! It was one of most memorable things about my trip. The food, the mulled wine (mine came in a little ceramic cup shaped like Santa’s stocking), the lovely crafts, and the cold, cold weather…just thinking of it makes me smile.

    Thanks for sharing and reminding me of a wonderful memory!



  22. Laura

    Wow, I wish that I had an outdoor Christmas market like this in my neck of the woods! It looks like an adorable little festival, and just one more thing to love about Chicago. Thanks for sharing a few shots from the market!

  23. Shannalee

    Stephanie, So glad this post brought back those memories! Thanks for sharing!

    Laura, Thank you for reading it and commenting!

  24. Jennie @ Oh, Sweet Day!

    How FUN, it is all so festive and beautiful!

  25. Shannalee

    Jennie, Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>