Before you surrender to the shopping gods and just get everyone gift cards, waltz through these fabulous holiday markets all across the city. With crafts, prints and vintage clothes from local artisans, you’ll discover gifts you can’t even find at Chicago’s best new shops. So snag a unique treasure of a Secret Santa gift at Chicago’s best holiday markets—They make the chore of shopping one of the best things to do during the holidays in Chicago.
RECOMMENDED: Christmas events in Chicago
Find a holiday market
Chicago's largest open-air market is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Inspired by a Nuremberg, Germany, market that was founded in 1545, this market features iconic German items like nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks and beer steins, as well as hand-blown ornaments and wooden handicrafts. Authentic food (sausages, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, waffles) and drink (beer and Glühwein, a traditional hot spiced wine) are also available, along with assorted sweets.
A surefire way to check a ton of names off of your shopping list? Head to the holiday editions of Dose Market at Soho house (Nov 15) and Morgan Manufacturing (Dec 13). Shop for jewelry, clothing and home goods from top-notch local artisans while munching on holiday treats from the city's food vendors. Check out the full lineup of participants on Dose Market's website. To attend, register online.
I AM Logan Square organizes the fifth annual holiday festival to kick off the season, with pop-up shops, trunk shows, a holiday movie matinee at Logan Theatre and Santa, of course. Stroll around the neighborhood to find local businesses hosting unique holiday festivities while the I AM Logan Square Gallery adds an art show to the celebration.
The Lycée Français de Chicago hosts the 11th annual Lycée French Market, which opens on the evening of December 4 with a special preview and runs through December 6. Enjoy chef demonstrations and shop for decorative art, jewelry, apparel, accessories, gourmet food and more. A supervised kids’ pavilion will keep the whole family entertained. All proceeds will support student programs and resources, including financial aid and extracurricular opportunities. Friday evening adult reception and preview shopping party, $30; market days adults $7 (children free)
More than 100 vendors hawk their antique housewares, furniture, clothing and more at the holiday events that take place as part of this beloved indoor-outdoor festival in the West Loop. Stop in for vintage clothes and jewelry, swap vinyl or peruse the fancy food market, just in time for gift-giving season.
This mega fair is an opportunity for serious crafters from around the country to sell their handmade arts and wares. It's also the perfect place to get extra special holiday gifts (and maybe a little something for yourself in the process). Renegade moves to the Bridgeport Art Center this December.
This month, Sauced Night Market returns to Logan Square's Emporium Arcade, bringing back a large lineup of fabulous local vendors so you can do some holiday shopping damage, eat from favorite Chicago vendors and, what the hell, get your buzz on with a craft beer or two. As always, admission is free.
Arts + Public Life, an initiative at the University of Chicago led by professor and artist Theaster Gates, is hosting Vends + Vibes: An Arts Marketplace. The family-friendly, boutique winter marketplace at the Arts Incubator in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood will showcase more than 30 local artists, bringing an alternative holiday shopping experience on the South Side to Chicagoans. Don't miss the big event on December 10 and 11, from 1pm-5pm.
West Town celebrates Small Business Saturday with this cheerful shopping festival. Throughout the day, more than 40 independently owned businesses showcase their goods so you can support local business while getting a head start on holiday shopping. Shell out $15 and hop aboard the Jolly Trolley Shopping Tour and receive a $30 Shop West Town gift certificate in return. Don't forget to pre-register for your three-hour tour ticket.