The city makes Europe’s tradition its own. By Alison Ramsey Photographs Courtesy Alison Ramsey
You can smell it even before rounding the corner of the Richard J. Daley Center—the rich, sweet scent of sugar-roasted nuts, spiced glühwein, and savory potato pancakes. The queue for the downtown Chicago Christkindlmarket wraps around the building, but time in line with the family is spent peering excitedly toward garland-draped kiosks and gleefully anticipating the first bite of a Lebkuchen gingerbread treat from the Sweet Castle.
The admission-free Christkindlmarket Chicago is modeled after the 16th century Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, complete with candy cane striped huts, and has taken place in Chicago since 1996. This German-style outdoor market featuring international and local vendors who sell high-quality handmade gifts, toys, traditional German foods and beverages, sweets, and Christmas ornaments and decorations, has become an annual holiday highlight in the city since its inception.