Bypass the main-street carnage this Christmas and treat your nearest and dearest to something totally unique instead: pick up one-off treasures from Chi-Town’s magical markets. Here’s our (Christmas) list of favourites; please tell Santa we’ve been good...
Christkindlmarket started life as a German tradition, inspired by the C.16th festive market in Nuremberg, Germany; it’s since grown into a Chicago institution. The city’s biggest alfresco Christmas market will be graced by the Christkind (or German ‘gift giver’) herself this year. She’ll help kick off the opening party by welcoming visitors; after that, she’ll roam the market, sharing German holiday traditions and telling festive stories. Pick from an array of top-notch gifts (including plenty of the edible and gluggable kind) and refuel with a mid-market bratwurst or beer.
As its name suggests, Renegade champions offbeat creativity, dishing up more quirky presents than Santa could ever fit in his sack. The festival is in its 15th year, and continues to support both emerging and established talent. Makers include Alchemilla, Allie Kushnir, Grayling Ceramics, Heron and Lamb Collective, LoveThyBeast, Ply and a whole crew more. Hop on a free trolley to the fair, which is held 2-3 December; the pick-up service leaves from Ashland Avenue.
Hunting for the perfect gift for that frustrating person who has everything? Let One of A Kind do the hard work for you. The 17th edition of this annual retail extravaganza returns to the Mart for one weekend, from 7-10 December; arts, crafts and other lures by more than 600 artisans will be showcased, including pet products, ceramics, fashion, fibre art, sculpture and more.
Celebrate the holidays at The HoliDose at Morgan MFG, which promises to be ‘the biggest, baddest, merriest’ market of them all. Choose your festive bounty from 130 small indie businesses, who have been specially invited to give you a dose of their talent for one day only (11 Dec, y’all). Every type of gift request is covered, from greenery – courtesy of Plant-Life, Cornell Florist and co. – to chocolates (Cocoa Cravings and Julie’s Chocolate), to fashion, design, drinks and more.
Join the merry throngs hitting up Randolph Street Market on 16-17 December. Pick from more than 125 vendors and shop ‘til you drop from the comfort of indoors, without worrying about lugging anything home: home-delivery can be sorted quicker than you can say ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’.
Christkindlmarket / 17 Nov – 24 Dec / Daley Plaza / 50 W Washington St / The Loop / +1 312 494 2175 / 11am-8pm Sun-Thu, till 9pm Fri-Sat / christkindlmarket.com
The HoliDose / 11 Dec / Morgan MFG / 401 N Morgan / West Town / +1 312 972 8400 / 10am-5pm / dosemarket.com
One of a Kind / 7-10 Dec / The Mart / 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza / River North / +1 312 527 4141 / 11am-8pm Thu-Fri, 10am-7pm Sat, till 5pm Sun / oneofakindshowchicago.com
Renegade Craft Fair / 2-3 Dec / Bridgeport Art Center / 1200 W 35th St / Bridgeport / 11am-6pm daily / free shuttle from Ashland Ave / renegadecraft.com
Randolph Street Market / 16-17 Dec / 47 W Division St / Near North Side / +1 312 666 1200 / 10am-5pm daily / randolphstreetmarket.com