It is that time of the year where Chicago residents go crazy for the annual Christkindlmarket. The bright lights, the delicious food, and the amazing ambiance make this market the place to be. If you have never been, the Christkindlmarket is a German influenced market with locations in the Chicagoland area and its surrounding suburbs. The market is home to many local vendors and offers something for everyone. This year was my first year attending after living in the city since 2022 and there were definitely some stand out items that you must try.

There are three in person Christkindlmarket locations of the min Illinois, and I had the pleasure of being able to visit two: Wrigleyville and Downtown Chicago. Each market is unique in its own ways but carries the same vibe. I would say if you want the full experience, go at night when the market is busier but not crowded, and feels the most festive. Both markets had so many vendors worth trying but I want to highlight some of my favorites. I sadly can't mention all of the amazing booths so make sure to check out Hallie Cronin's article where she talks about so many of the other awesome booths!

Raclette Sandwich

All markets have the same vendor that carries a delicious raclette sandwich. Raclette is a type of cheese native of Switzerland that has a pungent aroma but a creamy and rich taste. The booth adds this gooey cheese to a crusty, warm baguette with your choice of toppings. I opted for the traditional version of the sandwich with cheese, ham, mustard, and cornichons. This was one of my favorite bites of the whole market, despite the stinky smell that is present from the side of the street.  

Ally Hutchison

Garlic Parmesan Pretzel

The second item worthy of highlighting is the garlic and parsley pretzel. The pretzel is quickly warmed and then dunked in a bath of cheese and spices. It is then toasted and handed to you in its own little parchment paper blanket. The pretzel was super soft on the inside but still crunchy enough. The seasoning was just cheesy enough and I kept wanting to go back for more. I like that it was not super salty too because sometimes I think that it can become overpowering. It has been a few days since I visited the market, and I am still craving this pretzel. If that is not a big enough sign to get it, then I do not know what is.  

Mug of The Year

The last item is a special one and is also kind of simple. Every year, a new mug is created for each individual market, and they are available for purchase, with or without the addition of a hot drink. I had heard so much about these mugs, so I knew I had to get my hands on one. I also had heard so much about the hot chocolate that came in these mugs, so the choice was already made for me. I hopped into line, ordered one in the seasonal mug, and watched the worker put the drink together. She poured steaming hot chocolate into the mug, topped it with a scoop of fluffy white whipped cream and topped it off with a gingerbread man cookie sprinkled with sugar. My eyes widened when she handed me the mug. I felt like a kid in a candy store, and I could not wait to dive in. Unfortunately, the first sip I took scorched the top of my mouth, so I had to wait. Once it had cooled down a little and the whipped cream melted into the drink, I decided to give it another go. It was so rich and tasted like it had melted milk chocolate in it. It warmed me up so quickly and I was done within five minutes. When I finished, I decided to take a more in depth look at the mug. It was detailed with pictures of the vendor booths and people walking around the market. Each market has their own mug detailed with the scenery from the corresponding market and I just want to collect them all! This would also be such a festive holiday gift for a friend or a loved one.  

Ally Hutchison

For my first time at the Christkindlmarket, I can say that I will definitely be going back. It truly is the place to be this holiday season and I cannot wait to share it with my loved ones when they visit. There are so many booths, each with something different and special to try so I cannot recommend visiting any of the locations enough! You can enjoy the downtown and Arora locations until Christmas Eve and the Wrigleyville location is open until December 31st. If you visit any of the locations, make sure to try these showstopper items or any of the other tasty options available. Happy Holidays!