Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I have many fond memories of Christmas in the city. Seeing the windows at Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s), strolling the streets sparkling with twinkle lights, and, of course, going shopping at Christkindlmarket. If you’re from the Chicago area, Christkindlmarket is something that you’ve probably heard of before. But, for you Wisconsinites reading, this is probably something totally new!
And now, after several years of traveling down to Chicago, one of my favorite holiday traditions has finally made its way to Milwaukee! So, of course, I wanted to tell you guys all about my experience when I went opening weekend to check it out!
The number of vendors in Milwaukee are slightly less than in Chicago, but that makes for smaller crowds and a market that’s a little easier to navigate! I would guess in the years to come the market will continue to grow, and there will be even more vendor options for attendees, but I thought the selection of vendors in Milwaukee was great! All booths had something unique to offer, from hand painted ornaments, to alpaca scarves, to beautiful jewelry and teas. You can find something for everyone on your list!
Christkindlmarket is traditionally a German holiday market, so if you like authentic German food you are in for a treat! There are a number of different food vendors to choose from (including the Baked Cheese Haus. Yes I said baked cheese!), but I personally like to indulge in potato pancakes and the famous Belgium hot chocolate (they also have hot wine, for the 21+ crowd).
Ever year I get my hot chocolate in a souvenir mug and add it to my collection. On top of my Milwaukee Christkindlmarket mug this year, my hot cocoa also came with a gingerbread cookie! This is not something I have seen in years past, so I was very excited when I was handed an extra treat with my cup of cocoa. It might even be something that is unique to Milwaukee Christkindlmarket. Either way, I was not about to turn down a free cookie!
The one thing that can make Chicago’s Christkindlemarket tricky are the crowds! I typically show up as the booths are opening, and it becomes a mad house in about 20 minutes. You need to skillfully navigate your way to each booth and the lines can become quite long.
Milwaukee’s crowds are much smaller and easier to manage. Walking from booth to booth was very easy, and the lines weren’t nearly as long as they are in Chicago. Although, regardless of what time you arrive, I would recommend heading to the Käthe Wohlfahrt of America first if you want to buy anything from there; this line tends to get long fast no matter which market you go to.
Overall, I loved attending Milwaukee’s Christkindlmarket! The vendors were great, with amazing trinkets to offer, the food was good, and the crowds were very manageable. And, while I do hope they get more vendors in the years to come, I think it was a great way to celebrate the season in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee’s Christkindlmarket runs from November 17th – December 31st, and I highly recommend you check out whichever market is closest to you for your holiday shopping! (Or take a day trip up to Milwaukee to attend the market and check out the city.) I promise, it will not disappoint!
Have you been to Christkindlmarket? What are some of your favorite booths and treats?