After going virtual in 2020, Christkindlmarket is is welcoming visitors back to its locations in Daley Plaza and Gallagher Way (next to Wrigley Field) this winter. If you've never been to the German-inspired holiday market before, you're in for a treat—several different kinds of treats, actually. We stopped by the Daley Plaza location on opening day to browse the various stalls and vendors, exploring all of the different food, beverages and gifts that are being offered this year. Looking for a bit of Christkindlmarket inspiration? Here's what we recommend.
RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Christkindlmarket
1. Glühwein ($8 with mug, $7 refill) from Beer & Wine Vendors (booths #1, #28, #28, #54)
If you're coming to Christkindlmarket and you're of legal drinking age, you're probably going to end up clutching a commemorative mug of the market's signature mulled wine. This year's Glühwein vessel is a tall mug that celebrates the 25th anniversary of the event—and once you have one, you'll save a buck every time you snag a refill.
2. Krampus dancing ornament ($29) from Bavarian Workshop (booth #33)
The horned beast known as the Krampus was seemingly invented to provide a mythical figure to do Santa Claus's dirty work, punishing (and scaring) children who don't behave. But the hairy monster with big fangs and a very long tongue isn't so scary when it's transformed into a cute ornament that raises its arms and legs when you pull a string.
3. Gyulai with sauerkraut ($10) from Traditional German Food (booths #18, #38)
Looking for a sausage with a bit more of a kick than the traditional German bratwurst? This smoked, spiced Hungarian sausage will do the trick—the spice is mild, but it adds a burst of flavor to every bite. We recommend topping it with sauerkraut (it's $1 extra) and an ample dollop of the brown mustard from the dispenser.
4. "The Trainee" hot chocolate ($13) from United Chocolate Works (booth #35)
Get your photos of these decadent hot chocolate creations with chocolate wrenches and pliers protruding from the cup quickly! The steaming beverage quickly melts the molded tools, turning them into a molten sludge at the bottom of your cup, beneath the mound of whipped cream and toasted marshmallows. These are a bit more expensive than the standard hot chocolate you'll find at Christkindlmarket, but we felt like the extra gooey chocolate was worth the price.
5. Tee advents kalender ($30) from Tea Gschwender (booth #40)
If you're looking for an interesting way to count down the days to Christmas that doesn't involve tiny chocolates, this tea advent calendar should do the trick. Each box is packed with 25 bags of tea—a different one to enjoy on each day leading up to the December holiday. Of course, you could also just buy the box and dig into it whenever you're in the mood for something outside of your usual tea-drinking routine.
6. Almond apricot strudel ($9 per piece, $16 per box) from Helmut's Original Austrian Strudel (booth #8)
Helmut's isn't the only vendor selling strudel at Christkindlmarket, but we feel like this stand offers the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to delicious fillings wrapped in a flaky pastry crust. If you only eat one strudel from Helmut's make sure it's the almond apricot variety, which balances the sweet fruit filling with robust, nutty flavors. Go ahead and buy the box of strudel—you can always bring some home with you!
7. Plastic outdoor illuminated star ($30) from Gift & Candle Palace (booth #21)
The Gift & Candle Palace is always one of the most beautiful stalls at Christkindlmarket, filled with twinkling lights that look especially stunning when the sun goes down. You can bring a bit of the warm glow of the holiday market home with you by snagging one of these illuminated stars. We're fans of the plastic version of the star that can be displayed outdoors—if you don't feel like stringing up lights this year, hanging this star outside your home seems like a simple (and relatively affordable) way to embrace the holiday spirit.
8. Currywurst ($9) from Donermen (booth #3)
Chicago's own Donermen is back at Christkindlmarket with its usual menu of German fare, including doner kebab served atop a bed of french fries or on a salad. It's all tasty, but if you've never tried the currywurst before, you need to sample it during your next visit. Donermen's interpretation of the dish is simple and flavorful, made up of a pork and veal sausage coated with tangy curry sauce and fries dusted with curry powder.