Best Christmas Markets in the U.S.

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Christmas markets merge the finest local merchants with exquisite international crafters in a mystical air offering handmade goods. Holiday markets bask in the wondrous, wintry spirit, stirring up cheer, what with homemade hot chocolate, handmade ornaments, fresh gingerbread cookies, and pales upon pales of mulled wine. This list of the best Christmas markets in the U.S. will inspire you to have some holiday shopping fun. 

Best Christmas Markets in the U.S.

Christmas Markets in the U.S.
Christmas Markets in the U.S. Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

Christmas markets popped up in Germany 600 years ago, where they sold meats, cakes, toys, and other holiday-inspired goods. Before these Christmas-themed markets, holiday markets sprung up in German towns, interesting passersby to gather ingredients necessary to survive the winter. Today, Christmas Markets branch out of their German origins to locations worldwide. Many of the best Christmas and holiday-themed markets reside in the U.S.

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1. Union Square Market: Manhattan, New York

The Union Square Holiday Market sets up shop for six weeks, beginning in mid-November and concluding on Christmas Eve. This market brings hundreds of local vendors together to appease millions of locals and visitors looking to avoid mass market sales and support small businesses. The streets do clog up, given this is the largest and longest-running holiday market in New York City. Countless individuals flood the market, searching for the perfect ornament, knitted scarf, or handpainted doll.

Thumb through the largest selection of holiday material in New York City at located at E 14th St, New York, NY 10011.

2. Christmas Village: Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore’s iconic Christmas Market calls back to traditional German roots, modeling itself after the Christkindl Market in Nuremberg. The market conjoins indoor and outdoor attractions with booths from food vendors, local artisans, international crafters, and beverage stations. To hone in on the German tradition, bratwurst, gingerbread, German beers, and German wooden huts ornament the market. Millions of holiday lights wrap around the market’s perimeter, illuminating the Inner Harbor Festival. 

Explore the Christmas Village at 501 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230.

3. Nutcracker Market: Houston, Texas

The Houston Texas Nutcracker market supports its local Nutcracker ballet performance. Over 100,000 market patrons browse through more than 250 merchants offering everything from handmade jewelry, intricate toys, Christmas ornaments, holiday merchandise, hand-sewn and stitched clothing, and, of course, nutcrackers over this four-day festival. Honor the true spirit of Christmas at this holiday market, as 11% of each bill goes back into the Houston Ballet fund. 

Find the perfect nutcracker at NRG Park, 1 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77054.

4. Carmel, Christkindlmarkt: Carmel, Indiana

Christkindlmarkt operates from Nov. 22 until Christmas Eve, and with an ice skating rink, a Kinderecke (kids center), a Kulturecke (a center acknowledging Indiana’s German heritage), a Spielhaus (a playhouse where kids meet fairies, elves, and Santa himself), a Werkstatt (a workshop where the artisans devote time to constructing ornaments), and a winter pavilion with endless live entertainment, you won’t struggle to fill your time. 

This authentic market invites German craftspeople to the market to share their knowledge and expertise with the millions of visitors who flock through the market, and Christkindlmarkt institutes a Glühwein Pyramid, a Christmas tree contraption dedicated to warming customers.

See the Glühwein Pyramid in person at 10 Carter Green, Carmel, IN 46032.

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5. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair: Daly City, San Francisco Bay Area, California)

Board a time machine back into Charles Dickens’ heyday in London, inside, erm, an imaginative San Franciscan Christmas market. According to the Dickens Fair website, the team takes Dickens’ quote, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year,” to heart. The English set market runs from Nov. 18 through Dec. 17, offering admission into dance halls, famous pubs, Victorian shops, and anywhere Charles Dickens would fancy a chat and a pint (or two) with another Londoner.

Live entertainment options range from old London plays like Sherlock Holmes, Jekyll and Hyde, and the Elixir of Madness, and comical tours of London, where Victorian London residents arrange their tours based on Dickens’s work. Don’t bat an eye if Ebeneezer Scrroge and Tiny Tim show up during your tour. 

Visit the Victorian Fair at 2600 Geneva Ave, Daly City, 94014.

Which Market Will You Visit?

Since Christmas and holiday markets originated, guests have journeyed to the magical landscapes to purchase gifts for family, satisfying sweets, and delectable dishes, all while supporting local merchants and crafters. Germany birthed Christmas markets, and today, the European country counts over 40 authentic markets, attracting global visitors, while the U.S. boasts over 30 fairs to select from. 

Will you stroll through the traditional German Christkindlmarkt in Carmel, Indiana, with a Glühwein Pyramid? Or will you stick to a Westernized market like the Union Square Holiday Market in New York City or the Nutcracker Market in Houston?

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About Gabrielle Reeder

Gabrielle Reeder is a travel enthusiast from St. Petersburg Florida. She boarded her first plane at six months old and blames her love for jet-setting on her mom’s background as a travel agent. She’s been to 41 states and six countries, hoping to up that number to 50 states and 10 countries by her 26th birthday. During her trips, she loves to find the best vegetarian food, desserts, and music venues. 

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

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