Michigan’s Most Euro-Centric Christmas Markets in the U.S.
When it comes to festive travel experiences, European Christmas markets stand out for their unique blend of sights and scents. Originating in Europe centuries ago, these markets were initially established to mark and prepare for the holiday season before eventually making their way to America. Each market, with its distinctive setup, offers a range of items from handmade decorations and ornaments to artwork and seasonal food and beverages.
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the roots of Christmas markets trace back to Vienna in 1296, where Duke Albrecht I authorized 14-day fairs in December. Interestingly, despite their December timing, these markets were not originally directly tied to Christmas and lacked a religious nature. Another early example is found in Bautzen, Germany, where in 1384, King Wenceslas IV of Bohemia granted the city the right to hold a free market, allowing butchers to sell meat until Christmas.
U.S. Christmas markets that evoke a genuinely European atmosphere.
Travel + Leisure magazine has compiled a list of U.S. Christmas markets that evoke a genuinely European atmosphere. From San Francisco to Washington, D.C., these outdoor markets offer a variety of holiday gifts alongside cups of hot cocoa and mulled wine.
Earning a place on their list is the Holland Kerstmarkt. The publication emphasized Holland as one of the “most festive domestic destinations.” According to Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates, Holland, Michigan, was established in 1847 by A.C. Van Raalte, a leader and pastor guiding a group of Dutch immigrants seeking refuge from religious persecution in the Netherlands. The city proudly showcases its Dutch heritage through its architecture, language, celebrations, and, of course, its name.
Holland’s annual Kerstmarkt, featuring 18 booths filled with gifts, traditional food, and artisan demonstrations, spanning five weekends (Fridays and Saturdays only) from mid-November to mid-December. Saturday visits offer a chance to check out the farmers market, conveniently sharing the same space.
The list of Euro-centric Christmas markets in the U.S. includes Christkindlmarket Chicago, inspired by the 16th-century Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, and the Denver Christkindlmarket and Solvang Julefest in California, among others.
Check out the complete list here.