Christmas Markets

We are getting ready to travel to Tallinn (Estonia) for the Christmas Markets (see pic below), and my wife just asked if the US had similar…

Totally drew a blank here as I only remember a few things from New Mexico (the latin influence around Santa Fe area).

Do other places in the US have Christmas Markets?

Yes. They range in size from extremely large that last for days (can’t find a good one to link to) to extremely small, put on by the local school or church for a few hours. They also aren’t limited to Christmas specific. There are art/makers fairs throughout the year.

Frankenmuth, MI


They are called “Swap Meets,” though no actual swapping takes place.
During Christmas, these vendors will also sell you Christmas junk.

Or, more Scrooge-like:
They’re called “general retail outlets” (Target, Costco, etc.) which start selling Christmas junk in September.

I wouldn’t call them swap meets, that’s probably a regional thing. Around here actual swap meets still exist - but mostly for car enthusiasts as far I can tell.

Is this like a flea market?

I think they started out that way, but then people discovered this thing called “cash,” which acts as a means of exchange. Then, the credit card. Let me go into my region to see what they call them here. “Flea market”? Googling “Swap Meet,” I find several, and they appear to mainly use cash and not barter.

George: Hey, what goes on there, exactly?

Jerry: You don’t know?

George: No, I-I-I know… I know…

Jerry: You think they have fleas there, don’t you?

George: No

Jerry: Yes you do, Biff. You’ve never been to a Flea Market, and you think they have fleas there.

George: All right, I think they have fleas there. So what…


I will be in Germany next month, and am looking forward to seeing the Christmas markets there.


There are at least a couple in the Chicago area. I’ve not been to either (yet?), so can’t comment other than I’m absolutely positive that the ones in the Chicago area would not look as nice as that picture.

For the Waterloo-ites, St. Jacob’s has a christmas market. I’m told it’s like the regular market, but with decorations and expensive wine.

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did that as a river cruise last year


One in Chicago made the list of an article I read today (free to read article)

I’ve been to the downtown one in Chicago, and can confirm it’s pretty nice if not quite as picturesque as the ones in Europe. It’s just different with big skyscrapers vs. Bavarian architecture. Time your travels with the holiday themed L-train to make it an extra festive visit. g-lassie and I always enjoy going and usually meet up with MIL, who comes in from the burbs to partake in some mulled wine and pretzels. Last year was extra nice as we got lucky with the weather making it a giant snow globe.

Then the Wrigleyville one is pretty nice too and has its own distinct vibe - more family friendly IMO. The skating rink is a unique feature for that one (I don’t skate but it’s fun to watch nevertheless).

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I checked the website and … Belgian fries. I’m in!

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So I’m not aware of seeing a Christmas market anywhere I’ve ever lived, I know they are a thing in Europe.

And then today I’m at my city’s Christmas parade, and someone comes up and hands me a flyer for a Christmas market next week, a mile from my house!


I checked out one of the markets with my son. I might have enjoyed it, but he was bored to death and let me know it constantly. There were a lot of people, meaning anything worth seeing or eating had a huge line. And my son has no interest at all in food or drink. I heard someone say they ran out of pizza, which I found kind of funny at a place that passes itself off as being Bavarian. I’d go again, but would lose the kid and not go at primetime.


My city does have a Christmas market but I haven’t been yet. I do enjoy the atmosphere at the European markets though, so perhaps I should give the locals a look.

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First Christmas market of the week