20 Best Christmas Markets and Winter Festivals In the US

Christmas Markets and Winter Festivals

When most people think of Christmas markets, the historic holiday markets in destinations like Germany and France immediately come to mind. Markets in Europe bring in travelers from around the world every year, and all so they can shop for unique gifts, nosh on regional foods and sweets and enjoy the magic and sparkling lights each market offers with its unique holiday decor.

The thing is, you don't actually have to fly to Europe to experience the joy and wonder of an elaborate Christmas market or holiday festival. There are quite a few award-winning and highly-attended Christmas markets much closer to home, and you may even find that several are within driving distance of where you live.

Some of the best Christmas markets around the United States include the elaborate Carmel Christkindlmarkt in Carmel, Indiana, Yorktown's Christmas Market in Virginia and Julefest: A Nordic Christmas Celebration in Seattle, Washington. Read on to find out about the best holiday festivals around the United States, the dates they fall on this year and all the sweets and treats you'll find if you plan a trip.


Carmel Christkindlmarkt: Carmel, Indiana

The Carmel Christkindlmarkt in Carmel, Indiana takes place from November 18th to December 24th in 2023, and it brings in travelers from all over the region for its incredible events, delicious drinks and snacks and opportunities for shopping galore. A free holiday trolley takes cheerful visitors through the city's entertainment districts on select dates, and activities for families include ice skating, arts and crafts, magic shows, puppet shows and story time with Santa. Foods on offer include sought-after favorites like gourmet hot chocolate, German potato cakes, Bavarian pretzels and more.

Consider staying a few days at the Hotel Carmichael, which is uniquely situated next to the Carmel Christkindlmarkt for maximum convenience. The hotel will also put you in proximity to famous local eateries like the Cake Bake Shop by Gwendolyn Rogers and Vivante French Eatery, to name a few. The nearby Eggshell Bistro is also a popular destination for brunch favorites like quiche and shakshuka.

Yorktown's Christmas Market On Main: Yorktown, Virginia

Christmas Market on Main in Yorktown, Virginia is open on December 2nd and 3rd this year, and it will feature a range of holiday gifts to buy for others or yourself with close to 100 vendors selling everything from Christmas wreaths to nautical paintings. Other activities include a performance from the Fifes and Drums of Yorktown and a visit from Santa Claus himself.

All the seasonal foods you would expect will also be at the market, from chocolates to hot pretzels and sausages. Musical entertainment will also be on blast all weekend long, creating a festive atmosphere to get you in the mood for the holidays.

Julefest: A Nordic Christmas Celebration: Seattle, Washington

While Seattle, Washington also has its own famous Christmas market, the city boasts a unique holiday festival called Julefest: A Nordic Christmas Celebration. Taking place on November 18th and 19th in 2023, this celebration includes a traditional Nordic holiday market with more than 30 artists displaying their crafts, a range of delicious treats to enjoy and cultural performances like dancing and singing.

Note that the event itself takes place on the grounds of Seattle's National Nordic Museum.


Festival of Lights: Santa Claus, Indiana

The town of Santa Claus, Indiana is Christmas-themed to begin with, but the festivities are taken up a notch during the holiday season. For example, the town hosts an incredible (and huge) holiday lights display and show each year known as the Festival of Lights. This year's show will take place on December 9th and December 16th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, the local Santa Claus Museum will have extra activities going on, including the chance to get your photo snapped with a 22-foot-tall Santa statue and the opportunity to shop in its incredible Christmas store.

Detroit’s Cadillac Square: Detroit, Michigan

Cadillac Square in historic Detroit, Michigan is worth a visit from November through January if you want to get in some holiday shopping and take in sparkling lights and decor this holiday season. This city square transforms over the holidays into an inviting city center with elaborately decorated storefronts and plenty of gifts and treats on offer. 

The Cadillac Lodge is set up for visitors to gather for warm drinks and fellowship, and visitors can go ice skating at nearby Campus Martius.

Rail Yards Holiday Market: Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Rail Yards Holiday Market in Albuquerque, New Mexico will be open from December 9th to 10th this year, and it aims to wow visitors with its unique regional sweets and treats and enchanting holiday decor. The market focuses on celebrating the holidays with a touch of New Mexican culture, and visitors can shop for handcrafted goods and enjoy regional favorites like green chile-infused treats, roasted piñon nuts and hot apple cider.

Live music and other forms of entertainment are also provided, including Mariachi bands and other unique performances that celebrate the local culture with a holiday twist.

Old World Christmas Market: Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Taking place between December 1st and 10th in 2023 is the Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. This market is consistently rated in the top 10 Christmas markets nationwide by USA Today and other publications, and it includes everything you would expect in a holiday festival for families — a German food market, a shopping bazaar for holiday gifts, photo opportunities and carriage rides.

The Osthoff Resort hosts this Christmas market each year, and you can book overnight accommodations at the property to maximize the fun.

WinterFaire: Indianapolis, Indiana

From November 18th to February 11th, 2023, the award-winning Children's Museum of Indianapolis will host an annual festival called WinterFaire. This festival offers a carnival-like atmosphere with a focus on the holiday season and activities like a huge slide, meet-and-greets with Santa Claus, crafts and games.

Night of Lights: St. Augustine, Florida

For the past 30 years, St. Augustine, Florida has hosted a holiday festival and lights show called the Night of Lights. This evening event takes place on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year, and it dazzles visitors with millions of lights that turn the historic town into a sparkling village of Christmas wonder. 

Other holiday events in St. Augustine this year include the Colonial Nightwatch Parade, the Regatta of Lights and the Annual Christmas Parade for visitors to enjoy.  

Annual Holiday Market: Newport Beach, California

Newport Beach, California has an annual holiday market that evokes a Winter Wonderland despite the warm, coastal weather. The main market this year will take place on December 14th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., which also coincides with the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade of Lights.

The market itself features locally made holiday gifts and seasonal treats, while the boat parade includes hundreds of yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes decorated for the holiday. These vessels sail along the harbor and compete for various awards each year.


Yuletide at Devon: Devon, Pennsylvania

Yuletide at Devon is a holiday marketplace and festival that takes place in Devon, Pennsylvania from November 24th to December 31st this year. This means locals and visitors alike can pop in just about any time to enjoy free rides, live music, craft cocktails, a range of market shops and gourmet food and drinks. 

This festival also features a range of live concert events with stars like Jamie Miller and Fly by Midnight, although dates and times for each performance vary.

Savannah Christmas Market: Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful and historic city that's perfect for family trips to begin with, yet visiting over the holidays is bound to be more fun. That's partly due to the Savannah Christmas Market, which lasts from November 16th this year to New Year's Day. This European-style Christmas market offers live music, children's crafts and games, photos with Santa Claus and even the Savannah Harbor Boat Parade of Lights.

The market takes place each year in Plant Riverside Savannah's Entertainment District.

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park: New York, New York

New York City always has its share of festivals and street parties, and the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is one that's worth a visit. This winter village offers incredible holiday shopping opportunities, the largest free-admission ice skating rink in the city, bumper cars on ice and delicious foods to try, among other festivities.

Cozy igloos are even available for rent if you want a space to enjoy holiday snacks in between ice skating sessions.

40th Annual Pennsylvania Christmas + Gift Show: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The 40th annual Pennsylvania Christmas + Gift Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania takes place from November 29th to December 3rd this year. This holiday festival typically welcomes more than 30,000 visitors, all of which show up to shop and browse the market's six acres of exhibits, live displays, vendors and food shops.. 

In total, more than 600 vendors and specialty shops offer items for sale at the event. Visitors can show up to check out the gift show at the PA Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.

Cambria Christmas Market: Cambria, California

Cambria, California also hosts a Christmas market for locals and visitors alike, who arrive in droves to check out a light display with more than 2 million Christmas lights.. Activities available at the market include cozy fire pits, train rides on the market grounds, live music and performances and meet-and-greet opportunities with Santa Claus.

Artisan vendors also sell their wares at the market, which make it ideal for shoppers looking for the perfect holiday gift. This market takes place from November 24th to December 23rd this year, and it's located within the city center of Cambria.

Denver Christkindlmarkt: Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado also hosts the Denver Christkindlmarkt each year, which aims to bring German and European holiday traditions to the city. Taking place from the Friday before Thanksgiving through December 23rd in 2023, the market will offer visits with St. Nikolaus, Krampus and Christkind herself, vast holiday shopping options and a giant tree with light shows.

Authentic European fare is also offered at the market, including Glühwein, Bavarian-style Biers, European coffee and hot chocolate.

Christkindlmarket Chicago: Chicago, Illinois

Christkindlmarket Chicago is an annual event that takes place  at Daley Plaza, at Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville and at RiverEdge Park in Aurora. Admission is free, and visitors can purchase a range of European and German favorite foods like roasted nuts, bratwurst, hot spiced wine and Bavarian pretzels.

Live music is offered at each venue, along with traditional Christmas market shopping and there's even ice skating at the Wrigleyville location.

Woodstock, Georgia's Christkindl Market and Festival: Woodstock, Georgia

Woodstock, Georgia is located 30 minutes from Atlanta, and it offers an incredible Christmas market and festival within its vibrant downtown. This year's festival will take place on December 3rd, and it will include shopping with a range of local vendors, crafts and games, Christmas movies and classic German Christkindl Mugs.

Admission to this event is always free, and visitors can find the market at Woodstock Arts Event Green.

European Christmas Market: St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota also hosts its own European Christmas market that mimics the open-air markets found in destinations like Germany and France. Located at the historic Union Depot station, this year's market will take place over weekends in late November and early December this year.

Visitors will find everything from shopping with 60 local vendors to live entertainment from jazz groups and a cappella groups. Santa Claus and his reindeer will also make an appearance, and of course visitors can try European favorites like Glühwein (German spiced wine) and kartoffelpuffer (German potato pancakes).

Christkindlmarkt: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Finally, consider planning a trip to the popular Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This market offers delicious food and drinks for sale, shopping at dozens of vendors, live Christmas music, special holiday exhibitions and so much more. 

This year's market will open Friday, November 17 and stay open for visitors on weekends until December 17th. Tickets are already on sale and the market can be found at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

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Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

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