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 tradition of the Christkindlmarket in Germany to Chicago and adds a heap of local charm. Each of the market’s signature wooden cabins topped with festive red-and-white-striped canopies are packed with handmade gifts, food and drinks from around the world and many are run by native German speakers. Shop, visit with Christkind, eat, enjoy free entertainment, repeat — and be sure to say “guten tag” to Santa Claus. While you’re In the area, stop by Millennium Park to ice skate with stunning city views (they even give free lessons on weekends!). (Nov. 15-Dec. 24; Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., Loop). Event details.
2. Hobnob Market
Stay cozy at this indoor holiday shopping wonderland that is overflowing wtih holiday cheer with a focus on seasonal home goods, vintage finds, boutique clothing, sweet treats and more. Stock up on uniquely perfect gifts and grab some wonderful finds for yourself. Visit Friday for 5 hours of early-bird shopping. What a great way to spend a weekend! (Nov. 22 & 23; Illinois State Fairgrounds, 801 E. Sangamon, Springfield). Event details.
photo: courtesy of Washington Street Market
3. Washington Street Market
What began as an experiment pop-up holiday market in downtown Naperville 7 years ago with 10 vendors is now a full-blown festive event with over 70 talented artisans. You’ll find booths packed full of vintage, handmade and repurposed furniture, jewelry, home accessories, clothing, soaps, small-batch treats and much more. (Nov. 23 & 24; Naperville North High School, 899 N. Mill St., Naperville). Event details.
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. For Randolph Street Markets final two markets of 2019, they’re decking the halls of Plumbers Hall with three floors of one-of-a-kind shopping. Grab a cocktail courtesy of DIAGEO and snack on free popcorn while you shop a stylishly crafted mix of goodies. (Nov. 23 & 24 and Dec. 14 & 15; Plumbers Hall, 1341 W. Randolph, West Loop). Event details.
photo: Lincoln Park Zoo
5. Lincoln Park Zoo Holiday Market
Our favorite free zoo is amping up the festive fun! Join in for the only Holiday Market in the city set against the backdrop of ZooLights. Kick-off your holiday cheer with LPZ on #GivingTuesday by visiting this amazing collection of local artisans, shops, and boutiques. It’s the perfect evening to do something festive, catch up with friends, and kickstart your holiday shopping. (Dec. 3; Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park). Event details.
photo: One of a Kind Holiday Show
6. One of a Kind Holiday Show
The 19th annual One of a Kind Holiday Show is returning 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. A portion of the ticket proceeds will benefit Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. (Dec. 5-8; Merchandise Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 7th Floor, River North). Event details.
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, live vinyl DJ sets 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. (Dec. 7 & 8, Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St., Bridgeport). Event details.
photo: Christkindlmarket at Gallagher Way
8. Christkindlmarket at Gallagher Way
Gallagher Way will be decked out with holiday flare bigger and brighter than ever before during this year’s Winterland. Celebrate the holidays by taking part in the many Winterland programs happening Nov. 22-Feb. 16, including a mini Christkindlmarket. After you shop, enjoy the ice rink, curling, Santa’s Workshop, and much more. (Nov. 22-Dec. 31; Gallagher Way, 3635 N. Clark St., Wrigleyville). Event details.
9. MADE Holiday Pop Up
Holiday shoppers are invited to the MADE Holiday Pop Up art and gift show where you’ll find gifts for everyone on your list, including jewelry, fashion, ceramics and more. Try the handmade holiday card station, and enjoy two food trucks and an open bar! (Dec. 15; Morgan Manufacturing, 401 N. Morgan St., West Loop). Event details.