9 German-style Christmas markets in North America

Marie Glancy O'Shea, Special to CNNUpdated 21st November 2017
(CNN) — Christmas trees. Gingerbread houses. Advent calendars. Christmas as we know it is made up of traditions popularized in Germany, and anyone who's been to one of that country's Christmas markets knows that a German Yule is hard to beat.
Happily, over the past two decades or so, many towns and cities in the USA and the rest of North America have decided to import the German Christmas market tradition. The most authentic German-style markets come complete with wooden huts selling traditional crafts, sweet and savory German treats, and the all-important mulled wine (glühwein) in collectible mugs. Most also feature activities and entertainments for all ages.
Here are nine glittering Weihnachtsmarkt destinations across North America:

1. Denver

Nestled in the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado, Denver had a strong holiday atmosphere even before introducing its Christkindl Market almost two decades ago. Now it channels the Old World at Skyline Park, where glowing stalls sell crafts, gifts and goodies such as schnitzel and strudel. There's also plenty of music (much of it German). Open November 17 through December 23.

2. Tomball, Texas

Tomball's big neighbor is Houston, but its sister city is the town of Telgte in northwest Germany. On the second weekend of December that familial relationship is front and center as the annual German Christmas market enlivens the Old Town. Highlights include beer gardens, strolling entertainers and music stages. Open December 8-10.

3. Chicago

Chicago's Christkindlmarket will have its own Christkind -- the blond-haired, elaborately costumed mythical figure who has long been the avatar of Nüremberg's famed market. Visitors to the open-air event at Daley Plaza will also enjoy a selection of family entertainment. Open November 17 through December 24. There's a second market at Naper Settlement in nearby Naperville, Illinois.

4. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Elkhart Lake's Old World Christmas Market is not only a nod to Germany, but to other nations as well. Visitors can shop for Czech blown-glass ornaments, Russian nesting dolls, German hand-carved smokers and nutcrackers, fine apparel, amber and silver jewelry and Turkish pashmina scarves and shawls. Open December 1-10 at the Osthoff Resort.

5. Vancouver, British Columbia

The Vancouver Christmas Market lights up the downtown for more than a month. Vendors sell merchandise with a strong German emphasis. There's also an ugly sweater hut. Refreshments are also true to tradition, including German candied apples, freshly baked waffles and kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes). Open November 22 through December 24 at Jack Poole Plaza.

6. Baltimore

Baltimore has its own Christmas Village at the city's Inner Harbor. The village has traditional German style wooden huts as well as a heated tent. Vendors sell a variety of international gifts, ornaments and traditional foods and beverages, including bratwurst and mulled wine. Open November 23 through December 24.

7. Toronto

The Toronto Christmas Market incorporates the ambiance of the Distillery Historic District, a pedestrian-only village of restored Victorian brick buildings. With a variety of food and merchandise vendors, caroling singalongs, multiple lounges for sampling traditional beverages, and other attractions, this is the perfect place to keep warm and merry. Open November 16 through December 23.

8. Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania

With a population of fewer than 4,000, this central Pennsylvania town is one of the smallest to mount its own authentic Christmas market. The Mifflinburg Christkindl Market also claims to be the oldest wholly outdoor Christmas market in the United States. Enjoy many of the usual German treats, plus interesting exhibits such as the "Light Bulb Lady" and the annual lantern parade for children. Open December 14-16.

9. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Down the road from Mifflinburg, the town of Bethlehem has made good on its biblical name by designating itself "The Christmas City." A key element of its seasonal celebration is the Christkindlmarkt. Enjoy live music and demonstrations of ice carving and glassblowing. There's plenty of retails merchants and German food fare (and pizza if your tastes are more Italian). Runs weekends from November 17 to December 23.
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