Annual Christkindlmarket opens at Daley Plaza, offering an array of holiday goods and treats
The market, inspired by European Christmas markets, will operate until Christmas. More than 50 venders sell everything from ornaments to mechanized puzzles.
The annual Christkindlmarket opened Friday amid flurries and freezing temperatures at Daley Plaza.
The market, which started over 25 years ago, is inspired by European Christmas markets and features over 50 booths offering a variety of gifts and food. Vendors sell ornate glass ornaments, candles, hand-carved figurines, scarfs, baked goods, traditional German food and hot cocoa or mulled wine in souvenir Christkindlmarket mugs.
Pia Schulenberg, from Cologne, Germany, has been coming to the market for six years. She helps her aunt and uncle sell decorated glass candle holders, called “le vitrage,” French for glowing glass.
The holders are decorated with mosaics, Christmas scenes, snowy towns or the Chicago skyline.
“We are all about illumination,” Schulenberg said. “These are a huge tradition back in Germany, especially around Christmas.”
Her aunt and uncle first started to sell le vitrage at Christkindlmarket 18 years ago. Schulenberg loves coming back year after year.
“The market is like a community, we have customers we remember, and it’s fun to go around and visit with the other venders,” Schulenberg said.
Mother and daughter Lorie Ryan and Errin Kancal came straight to the market after getting off their plane from Istanbul Friday afternoon.
The two are in town to visit family, and both wanted to be sure to check out the market. Kancal used to love coming to Christkindlmarket when she was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago.
“The crisp, cool air, the winter weather makes it perfect to be out here,” Ryan said. “We’re so glad we were able to make it for the opening day.”
Over at a booth selling mechanized 3D puzzles, Sonya Lord-Chamberlian bought a wooden train puzzle for her husband. She’s visiting Chicago from Indianapolis for the weekend with her church group and stopped by the Christkindlmarket on a whim.
“I already bought way too many ornaments,” Lord-Chamberlian said. “It’s really a unique market, there’s so many different things to see and foods to try.”
Ramesh and Huma Mahtani have been selling handcrafted goods from India at the Christkindlmarket for 12 years. They also own Reshman’s, a store selling similar goods on West Devon Avenue.
“I know it’s unique for us to be here selling things from India at a German market,” Ramesh Mahtani said. “I love to showcase what India has to offer. We have things from all the states in India.”
Ramesh’s wife travels to India every year to pick out all the goods they sell. Their booth offers decorated scarfs and colorful papier-mâché ornaments from Kashmir, figurines of different Hindu deities, meditation mats and carved elephants, a symbol of good luck.
“We know this can be a stressful time for people, so we are all about peace, mediation, calm,” Mahtani said.
Christkindlmarket is open till December 24 on Sundays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to the Daley Plaza location, there are two other markets open in Wrigleyville and Aurora.
Another holiday tradition took place Friday evening: the 109th lighting of Chicago’s Christmas tree at Millennium Park, near the intersection of Washington Street and Michigan Avenue . The 55-foot Colorado Blue Spruce, donated by the Glisovic family of Morton Grove, will be lit until Jan. 9.
The ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, 337 E. Randolph St., also opened Friday. The five other outdoor ice skating rinks operated by the Chicago Park District will open Nov. 25, weather permitting.