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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Christkindlmarket brings holiday joy to Chicago

Isabel Su/The Daily Northwestern
The Wrigleyville Christkindlmarket in the evening. At each location, the grounds are lined with timber vendor stalls, lit up with heat lamps and string lights.

Bratwurst, baked cheese, handmade ornaments and nativity pottery are just a few of the  things visitors can find at the Chicago Christkindlmarket, the largest Christmas market in the U.S. 

Held in downtown Chicago’s Daley Plaza, the market welcomes upwards of one million visitors each year. It also has locations in Wrigleyville — right in the shadow of Wrigley Field — and Aurora. 

Florida native Parrish Davis-Sauls works at the Wrigleyville Christkindlmarket stall for Winterborn Alpaca, which sells sustainable alpaca wool goods like scarves and mittens. She has also worked at the Daley Plaza location.

“Wrigleyville is definitely a family-oriented market. It’s a lot calmer. It’s a lot more neighborhood-friendly,” she said. “Daley Plaza is wonderful and even has more things to offer. But it is always packed in, very touristy.”

The grounds are lined with timber vendor stalls at each location, lit up with heat lamps and string lights. There are also indoor seating areas where guests can indulge in hot spiced wine, beer and other holiday drinks.

Davis-Sauls said she likes the sense of community among Christkindlmarket employees. 

“We’re all mainly gig artists that have either daytime jobs (or) a seasonal thing,” she said. “A lot of us are (Bristol) Renaissance Faire workers or singers and actors, and we all know each other.”

Her favorite part of working at the Christkindlmarket, though, is being around the holiday spirit and getting to meet people from all over the country. Once, she met someone from her hometown through the market, an experience she called “really funky and fun.”

General entry to the market is free, though Christkindlmarket began selling $25 weekend express passes this year. It allows visitors to skip the seasonal stalls’ long lines and also includes a souvenir mug.

Some visitors like Medill freshman Marcus Kim find issues with the market’s high prices.

At Winterborn Alpaca, for example, product prices range from $30 to $50.

Kim visited the Daley Plaza Christkindlmarket on Nov. 17, its opening day — but said he wouldn’t return.

“I would not go to the Christmas market again because of how expensive it was,” he said. “It is a good experience to go once, but everything they were selling, especially food, (was expensive). A hot dog was like 12 bucks.” 

For others, however, the Christkindlmarket is still meaningful for the sense of holiday joy it creates. 

Riley Hause, a Weinberg freshman from Los Angeles, visited the Wrigleyville Christkindlmarket on Tuesday. 

Hause said that Christmas is her favorite holiday, but the warm weather in L.A. does not facilitate a traditional Christmas experience. She visited the market because she thought it would be cool to experience the holiday in 20-degree weather, she said.

“In Christmas movies, there’s always a sea of snow and so many lights,” Hause said. “I’ve never done that before, and I felt like I was in a Christmas movie. I finally feel like I can say I experienced Christmas.”

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Twitter: @isabelsu_

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