Wilkommen back! Christkindlmarket returns


Malcolm Taylor

Many Christkindlmarket vendors who travel from outside the country to attend the annual market are thrilled to be back in Chicago for the holidays. The market takes place in Daley Plaza and will be open until Dec. 24.

Audrey Matei, Content Manager

With the sweet scent of pastries and hot chocolate wafting into the winter air and crowds of bundled-up shoppers forming around a variety of booths, Christkindlmarket is a beloved downtown Chicago tradition that has finally returned. The outdoor market opened in Daley Plaza in the Loop on Nov. 19 and will remain open to Dec. 24, buzzing with people from the early afternoon to late evening. Rows of wooden stands and enclosures adorned with lights and decorations line the plaza, creating a labyrinth of sweet-smelling snacks and brightly colored trinkets.

The market has been an annual event for 25 years and was virtual last winter due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, it has fully returned with safety measures such as sanitation, touchless payment and mask requirements indoors.

Vendors come from across the world to set up shop at Christkindlmarket.

Tim Johannes, an employee of Helmut’s Original Austrian Strudel and a German citizen, is happy to return to normal after a year of slow business.

“It was really hard not coming,” he said smiling, adding that he felt he had missed a part of himself the past year.

Mr. Johannes and another employee working the stand, Elliot Pilk, took turns pouring hot chocolate and passing small boxes of warm fruit-filled strudel to customers all while making conversation with them.

Brie Kawalek, a new employee at Fehrenbach Black Forest Clocks, a booth that sells wooden ornaments and clocks, recently moved to Chicago from Germany. She feels there are a lot of similarities between her home and the market.

“I miss Germany a lot,” she said, adding that the market “really reminds me of some places back home.”

Bart Cajun, an employee of Dinkel’s Bakery on the North Side said that business has been busy as ever with more traffic than previous years. Even with a long line forming outside his stand, he started friendly conversation with every customer, laughing and joking with them like old friends as he handed them their pastries and hot beverages.

He explained that the market has been very crowded.

He said, “It’s good to be back to normal.”