The arrival of the Christkindlmarket means Christmas is almost here! This German marketplace has everything you want at this time of year: a holiday vibe, delicious food, fabulous live entertainment and one-of-a-kind shopping.
While the Christkindlmarket has two well-known Chicago locations, the Christkindlmarket Aurora at RiverEdge Park is a great choice for families. It is open through Dec. 24.
“Our Christkindlmarket Aurora has several new family-friendly activities,” says Leila Schmidt, Senior Manager, Marketing & Intercultural Communication, German American Events, LLC. “Plus, our Aurora location is more spacious than the others – perfect for families with kids.”
You won’t want to miss this festive foray into a German Christmas! Here are six reasons to bring your crew to the Christkindlmarket Aurora:
Family-friendly ‘Twinkly Thursday’
Thursdays, aka Twinkly Thursday, at the Christkindlmarket Aurora are devoted to families, says Schmidt.
“We’ve got special activities like face painting, a reindeer scavenger hunt, glass-blowing demonstrations, live Alpine bands and Typecast Poetry. For a small fee, a writer will deliver a poem for you right on the spot, printed on an old-fashioned typewriter.”
Plus, you can extend your Twinkly Thursday fun right around the corner from the market at the Paramount Theatre. Get 30% off tickets for a live, musical performance of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Enter code TWINKLY when ordering online.
Meet Christkind, aka ‘German Santa’
This beautiful fairy queen-like character with golden wings and a crown will visit the Christkindlmarket on Sundays from 2-4 p.m. The namesake of the market, the Christkind dates back to the 1500s and revolves around the tradition of a “grand angel” guiding holiday parades.
“Christkind is similar to Santa Claus in the United States,” says Schmidt. “She is the gift-bearer for children in German-speaking countries.”
Reindeer Scavenger Hunt and photo ops galore
Kids and adults alike will enjoy a fun Reindeer Scavenger Hunt that takes you on a journey through the market. Punch holes in your map, locate all the reindeer and be rewarded with a goodie at the end.
“We have put so much time and effort into our decor this year,” says Schmidt. “Our goal was to make it look as festive as possible!”
Along the way, you’ll discover tons of fun holiday photo opportunities. Besides the reindeer, there is a gingerbread sleigh, dozens of candy canes, Christmas trees, lights and much more throughout Christkindlmarket Aurora.
The Children’s Lantern Parade
The Children’s Lantern Parade at Christkindlmarket Aurora takes place on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. Traditionally, this parade celebrates St. Martin’s Day and is similar to trick-or-treating. Children carrying lanterns are rewarded with sweets.
Before the parade, meet the Christkind, take a photo and hear the inspiring tale of St. Martin, a fourth-century soldier known for his kind deeds. Each child will get a special Christkindlmarket goodie bag as a memento.
“The Children’s Lantern Parade is a special and magical experience for kids,” says Schmidt.
Tickets are required; you can get them here.
Fun merchandise to make family memories
“We’ve got more than 50 vendors this year, up from just about 35 last year,” says Schmidt. You’ll find traditional favorites like beer steins, exquisitely crafted European Christmas ornaments and other unique items.
“This year, we are offering Christmas Tree Grow Kits for just $12,” says Schmidt. “It makes a great family memento or gift.” All of these merchandise items as well as the annual souvenir mugs can be purchased at the info counter inside the heated Timber Tent.
Delicious German and European food and drink
First things first: grab a drink in the annual mug! Be sure to treat the kids to a hot chocolate in a specially designed reindeer mug. The reindeer mug is designated alcohol-free, adding to the family atmosphere.
“There are many hot non-alcoholic drinks available at various vendor booths,” says Schmidt. “From creamy hot chocolate to hot cider and even Polish raspberry juice, there’s something for everyone!”
You will also find yummy European food. “We are offering many new European dishes at the Christkindlmarket Aurora at RiverEdge Park, including poffertjes (Dutch pancakes) and Flammkuchen, which is pretty much like German pizza,” says Schmidt.
Also on the menu? That Polish (and Chicago-area) favorite, pierogi. Bring your appetites!
Tips for families visiting Christkindlmarket Aurora at RiverEdge Park:
- Visit on a Thursday or Friday if you can. It tends to be less bustling than the weekends, says Schmidt. Plus, Twinkly Thursdays offer special entertainment and activities.
- Stop at the Information Booth inside the heated Timber Tent and get a map upon arrival – it has separate sections for food and merchandise. Plus, this is where you pick up your map to enter the Reindeer Scavenger Hunt.
- Warm up in the heated Timber Tent with cozy tables, live Alpine music and face painting for the kids.
- Transportation: Christkindl Aurora is steps away from the Metra station. In addition, there are free parking lots within walking distance. A paid lot right across the street from the market is reasonably priced at just $10 to park all day.
- Christkindlmarket Aurora is open until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
If you’d like to visit the Christkindlmarket Chicago locations, they have some special features this year: