The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Christkindlmarket brings German culture​ to Illinois

James Hoeck
A variety of cookies lay next to a caramel cappuccino on the morning of Nov. 5. German-style market “Christkindlemarket” makes its away around Illinois this holiday season.

Every year, winter enjoyers from all over Illinois bundle up in jackets, gather their friends or family and travel snowy roads to visit the Christkindlmarket. 

String lights hang above rows of decorative booths with snow-covered roofs, the scent of traditional German food lingers in the cold Windy City air and festive music is heard around the block.

The Christkindlmarket is a holiday staple based in various locations around the world, notably in Chicago and Aurora, Illinois.

This authentic German-style market consists of a variety of vendors, performances and interactive activities for all ages, according to organizers.

“People just love that they get to come experience (the market), stroll around and kind of escape into a little magical holiday village,” said Leila Schmidt, senior manager for marketing and intercultural communications at German American Events. 

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Nov. 17 marks the opening day of this year’s markets at all locations. The market is open seven days a week until Dec. 24 in Chicago and Aurora and Dec. 31, the final closing day in Wrigleyville. 

With free admission to the market, three locations are available this year. Daley Plaza in Chicago is the oldest location, Wrigleyville hosts a market and the recently opened Aurora location is offering special programming this year.

The market is based on the 16th-century Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany and was conceptualized in 1995 as a way to unite Germany and the United States in transatlantic trade.

The first market was held in 1996 with only 13 vendors in Pioneer Court, Chicago. Since then, the market has grown tremendously in popularity, according to Schmidt.

Organizers of the market said they prioritize getting high-quality vendors and authentic German aspects to the market while also creating space for other international vendors — much like a typical Christkindlesmarkt would do.

“When you go to the Christmas markets in Germany, it’s the same thing there,” Schmidt said. “You have local vendors, but you also have a variety from different cultures, different backgrounds. That’s what makes it so authentic and so unique. You really get to find high-quality products from around the world.”

For organizers of the market, it is a full-year job. Within the off-season, new merchandise is being designed, feedback from visitors is being received and vendors are being accepted. 

With comments and suggestions from last year’s markets, Schmidt said they have created more events available to visitors at an additional cost.

One of the most popular events is the annual ‘Twas the Night Before Christkindlmarket Preview Party, which occurs in downtown Chicago and is an exclusive early experience. 

The Lantern Parade, Twinkly Thursday at RiverEdge Park and a German wine-tasting event are among the various events hosted for attendees at specific locations. 

Schmidt said the market’s ambiance and energy provide visitors with a place to go to separate themselves from the realities of everyday life. 

“It’s something that you can take your loved ones to or just stroll around by yourself,” Schmidt said. “It’s just so magical. So, it’s a little escape from your everyday life.”


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About the Contributors
Lillie Salas
Lillie Salas, Managing Editor
Hello! My name is Lillie Salas, and I am a sophomore majoring in journalism. I have been working at The Daily Illini since my freshman year. I began as a staff writer in features and then had the opportunity to be promoted to features editor during my second semester. I am so honored to work with such an amazing staff and I look forward to working with the Champaign-Urbana community to share our stories. For any inquiries, contact me at my email below.
James Hoeck
James Hoeck, Photo Editor
Heyo! I am James Hoeck, a third-year undergraduate student in photography with a minor in media. I have been a part of Illini Media for two years, starting back in fall 2021. I hold the position of Photo Editor here at The Daily Illini. I also work as Photo Editor for Illini Media’s Illio Yearbook. There is a good chance you will see me out and about on campus taking photos for my personal work or for The DI and/or Illio! If you want to check out more of my work, visit my socials linked below.
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