The Christkindlsmarkt Festival originated over 500 years ago during the Advent Season in Germany, to celebrate the coming of the Christ Child. Christkindlsmarkt could be translated word for word as “Christ Child Market”.
The festival is thought to have been established at Striezelmarkt in Dresden, Germany in 1434. While there are German markets that existed earlier, they were December markets. Originally, Striezelmarkt was a one-day market to provide the citizens of Dresden with the meat for the Christmas meal after the pre-Christmas period of fasting.
Over time, the Christkindlsmarkt festival spread to Nurenberg, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Augsburg, Berlin, Munich (the Heart of Bavaria), and continued throughout Germany, then throughout the rest of Europe. Eventually, every mid-size town had its own market.
In 1995, it finally crossed the ocean to Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago, where it inspired a fabulous Festival modeled after the Christkindlsmarkt in Nurenberg, Germany.
In 2005, an Excelsior resident visited the Chicago Christkindlmarket. They suggested it to a committee of local business owners and residents, who agreed overwhelmingly. The Excelsior festival started small, at Lyman Park (now the Excelsior Library). It continued to grow, and eventually moved to its current location: the East Municipal Parking Lot.
Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt, a completely volunteer and donation driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit, manages and coordinates the festival to this day. In keeping with the German traditional Christkindlsmarkt, enjoy the holiday sounds as you take in the aromas and delight your senses with German/Alpine Christmas traditions such as German Sausages and Potatoes, roasted Almonds, Sweet & Savory Strudel, delectable Chocolates, Cakes & Cupcakes, KinderCocoa, and “Gluehwein’’ (a warm, sweet, spiced wine).
The Market also includes stalls filled with traditional gifts, handcrafted ornaments, wooden toys, nutcrackers, vintage pieces, Alpaca sweaters and mittens, Frost River leather goods, hand-crafted wooden boards, original art, German Pottery, and German Lanterns.
At Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt, there is a little bit of fun for everyone! KinderWorld and the NorthPole Trolley are the main attractions for the children, where they can enjoy visiting Father Christmas. Children also enjoy having their photos taken with live Reindeer, Tea parties with Frozen Princesses, storytelling, parades, and more!
Adults can keep the fun going even after the market closes, at the Biergarten located at the Excelsior Brewing Company (Open until 10pm).