You’ll get in your fair share of mall walking and internet trolling for holiday gifts this year, so how ’bout throwing a more unique shopping experience in the mix? Gather your friends and shop these holiday markets brimming with handmade, vintage and awesomely unique gift ideas for even the pickiest Scrooge on your list. Read on to find our Editor’s picks for festive market shopping that’s as fun as ripping open the gifts.
Bundle up for this outdoor market that brings the cherished German and European tradition of the Christkindesmarkt in Germany, which began in 1545, to Chicago and adds a heap of local charm. Head to Daley Plaza, where you’ll see the market’s signature wooden cabins topped with festive red-and-white-striped canopies, each packed with handmade gifts, food and drinks from around the world and many are run by native German speakers. Shop, eat, enjoy free entertainment, repeat – and be sure to say “guten tag” to Santa Claus.
Dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 24
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: Free admission
On Daley Plaza, Between Dearborn, Washington & Clark St., The Loop
Get a double dose of Christkindlmarket by visiting the suburban edition in Naperville.
photo: Christkindlmarket courtesy of City of Chicago
Dates: Thursdays through Sundays, Nov. 24-Dec. 24, and everyday Dec. 18-21
Hours: Nov. 24-Dec. 24, Thurs., 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Dec. 18-Dec. 21, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville
2. Hobnob Market
Stay cozy at this indoor holiday shopping wonderland that focuses on vintage, handmade, boutique clothing, sweet treats, and naturals like evergreen and birch branches. Each of the 150+ vendors set up their spaces like mini shops with festive displays and boutique style touches. Come Friday for the Making Merry Party, which gives you 5 hours of early bird shopping. Besides the shopping, you’ll find delicious food, a cash bar, live music, giveaways and more. What a great way to spend a weekend!
Dates: Nov. 17 & 18
Hours: Fri., 4 p.m.-9 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: Friday’s Making Merry Party is $10 in advance, $15 at the door; Saturday admission is $5; free for ages 12 & under
Thelma Keller Convention Center, 1202 N. Keller Dr., Effingham
photo: courtesy of Washington Street Market
3. Washington Street Market
What began as an experiment pop-up holiday market in downtown Naperville 4 years ago with 10 vendors is now a full-blown festive event with over 50 talented artisans. Hosted by Room 363 and Little Luxuries store owners, you’ll find booths packed full of vintage, handmade and repurposed furniture, jewelry, home accessories, clothing, soaps and much more.
Dates: Nov. 18 & 19
Hours: Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $5; free for ages 12 & under
Naperville Central High School, 440 Aurora Ave., Naperville
photo: Randolph Street Holiday Market
4. Randolph Street Holiday Market
With prices ranging from thrifty to extravagant, you’re sure to find something for even the pickiest of gift receivers this year. Peruse the market for smartly priced antique, vintage and modern goods – everything from embroidered hankies to estate jewelry to custom-made gifts. Pull up to the door for valet parking service. Bonus: They’ll do the schlepping of for you with home delivery service.
Dates: Nov. 19 & 20, Nov. 26 & 27, Dec. 10 & 11
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $8; free for ages 12 & under
Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington, West Loop
photo: Lincoln Park Zoo courtesy of Todd Rosenberg Photography
5. Lincoln Park Zoo Holiday Market
Our favorite free zoo is amping up the festive fun! They’re making a day playing amongst the animals even more fun with their first-ever Holiday Market. Forage for gifts among a variety of offerings from local artisans, shops and boutiques with the sparkle and shine of ZooLights as your backdrop. Proceeds from this event help keep the zoo free to guests 365 days a year.
Date: Nov. 28
Hours: 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: $10; $8 for zoo members
Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park
photo: One of a Kind Holiday Show
6. One of a Kind Holiday Show
It doesn’t get any bigger than this! The 17th annual One of a Kind Holiday Show is coming to the Mart! The highly anticipated Holiday Show will feature more than 600 artists offering handmade pieces in a range of mediums and at a wide range of price points. In addition to shopping, attendees can enjoy daily fashion shows featuring artist-designed apparel and live performances by local musicians sponsored by the Old School of Folk Music.
Hours: Thurs. & Fri., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $12; free for ages 12 & under
Merchandise Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 7th Floor, River North
7. Renegade Craft Fair
Renegade is known for featuring a thoughtfully curated selection of handmade indie-craft goods that make checking gifts off your list easy-peasy – and will get you coolness points at the same time. Along with the shopping, you’ll find DIY workshops and a festive holiday vibe. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation, walk or bike to the fair as parking is limited at the venue. There is also a free trolley service between the Ashland Ave. Orange Line stop and Bridgeport Art Center. Bonus: First-time Uber users can use code RCF2016 for a free $15 ride.
Dates: Dec. 2 & 3
Hours: 11a.m.-6 p.m.
Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St., Bridgeport
Dose sources all the best local makers, bakers, chefs, designers and artists in one spot so you can shop like a boss. This year’s market will showcase 100 vendors from Chicagoland and beyond selling their wares while you eat, shop, laugh, lounge and score one-of-a-kind gifts for all your favorite peeps.
Dates: Dec. 10
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $10 in advance; $12 at the door
Morgan Manufacturing Co., 401 N. Morgan, West Loop
Do you have a favorite Holiday Market? Share your festive secret in the Comments below!