Germany's Christmas Market tradition dates back to the Middle Ages where the first Nikolausdult was held in Munich in 1310. Other cities with a long Christmas Market tradition include Dresden (since 1434) and Strasbourg in operation since 1570 (when Strasbourg, which is now in France, was part of Germany.)
If you're fascinated by what you've heard about Christmas markets but you don't have the budget to travel to Europe, you can still enjoy the color and excitement of German Christmas Markets. This tradition is spreading and coming closer and closer to a location near you.
Lowes' Toronto Christmas Market (Toronto, Ontario)
Running for 2 weeks from the end of November until mid-December, Lowe's Toronto Christmas Market transforms Toronto's Historical Distillery District into a traditional German Christmas Market. Over 30 food and craft vendors participate in this annual event that was added to the Toronto festive seasonal calendar 3 years ago.
Stroll through the stalls filled with holiday treats and enjoy musical entertainment, samples from Ontario wineries.
Lowes' Toronto Christmas Market lends its support to a number of local Christmas charities.
Christkindl Market (Kitchener, Ontario)
A lot of German immigrants settled in Kitchener, Ontario. So, in addition to one of the busiest Oktoberfests outside Germany, it is not surprising that the community has a Christmas market complete with German Brass Bands, Alpine Dancers, Kinderecke, and a Model Railway.
German Christmas Market (Quebec City)
Held annually on the last weekend of November and 1st weekend of December.
The Middle East
Christmas Market at Dubai Christmas Festival (United Arab Emirates)
There is a small Christmas Market at Dubai Christmas Festival that is open this weekend.
Open Air Christmas Markets (Beirut, Lebanon)
Zaitunay Bay held its first Christmas Market in 2011. Gefinor Plaza had 10 traditional Christmas Market huts featuring German fare at its Winter festival last year.
While Christmas is not a holiday in Japan, there are 4 German Christmas Markets.
- Sapporo Munich Christmas Market
- Yokohama Christmas Market
- Osaka German Christmas Market
Here is a glimpse of a Japanese-style German Christmas Market from when Tokyo hosted Marche de Noel de Strasbourg a Tokyo
Since 1995, when Chicago first held this annual event with the aim of promoting bilateral trade between the U.S. and Germany, this pre-Christmas event has flourished. From the appearance of The Christkind fairy to choirs and Alpine Brass bands, this ancient tradition comes alive at Daley Plaza from mid-November to Christmas Eve.
Christkindlmarkt (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)
Over 200 artisans and vendors, participate in this 6 week Christmas market running from mid-November until December 23rd. is a 20 year tradition. German and Austrian holiday treats, ice carvers, glass blowing demonstrations, and seasonal music create a magical pre-Christmas experience.
New York City
New York City has not one but (count 'em) 4 Christmas markets.
- Holiday Market at Union Square
- Holiday Shops at Bryant Park
- Holiday Gift Shops at St. Bartholomew's
- Holiday Market at Columbus Circle
There are a number of ways to incorporate a Christmas Market into your corporate event.
- Plan an urban safari with clues to take your group to and the Christmas market
Provide clues for a corporate scavenger hunt and shopping challenge. Then, meet a cooking event venue near by for a German or Swiss German themed cooking event.
Example: See what Switzerland Tourism did for their recent Toronto Meets Switzerland cooking event.
Be sure to build enough time into your agenda for the group to toast the season while relaxing in a beer garden and spend a couple of hours browsing for treasures in the market.