If you’re dreaming of a Christmas-time European getaway filled with twinkling lights, bratwursts, German beer, and strolls down idyllic city streets with the smell of goodies filling the air, you don’t have to travel farther than into the heart of downtown Grand Rapids this holiday season.
Grand Rapids Downtown Market invites you to join them in festive celebration at their first-ever Christkindl Markt this holiday season, where from November 17 through December 23rd this year, you can find all the international flair, tasty treats, and gifts reminiscent of traditional, European Christmas markets in a winter wonderland setting close to home.
This 26-day Christkindl Markt is heavily inspired by traditional European holiday shopping and dining experiences made popular during the past century. The Christkindl Markt team took research trips to four European countries in 2022 to experience long-standing Christmas Markets during the holiday season to deliver as close to the authentic magic found in markets around the world as they could.
“Traditional Christmas markets are holiday gathering places and destinations where we as a community can gather amongst the backdrop of music, traditional food, and holiday shopping from local and regional artisans,” said Mimi Fritz, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. “We honor the long-standing traditions of the Christkindl Markt, experienced by millions of people across hundreds of towns and villages in Europe, by selecting the finest local and regional artisans and vendors to highlight their interpretation of a German Christmas market.”
While festivities of the Christkindl Market will include private chalet rentals, Santa visits, caroling, firepits for roasting s’mores and other fun activities, there’s also plenty of fun for those who are looking for a more active outing.
If you’ve ever watched the sport of curling and noted while sitting on the couch, “I could definitely do that”, the time to prove yourself has come. One of the most anticipated activities at the Christkindl Markt is outdoor curling. Grab your friends and family for a dose of cold-weather competition to slide curling stones across the sheets with a festive beverage in hand.
Luckily curling and beer are a perfect pairing, and the Downtown Market has partnered with Brewery Vivant to create a new German-style beer exclusively for the 2023 Christkindl Markt. Try a taste of this Christmas-inspired beer at the market’s Bavarian Style Beverage Hall.
“When the Downtown Market approached us to craft a beer brewed exclusively for the Christkindl Markt, we jumped at the opportunity, because it fulfills our love for the traditions and artistic approach of European beer styles,” said Jason Spaulding, co-founder of Brewery Vivant. “The Christkindl Market will give us the opportunity to introduce our style to hundreds of thousands of people in less than a month.”
Along with the exclusively brewed beer, Christmas Markets typically have their own collectible mugs, filled with traditional Glühwein, hot cocoa, and other beverages. The Christkindl Market at the Downtown Market will have an inaugural Grand Rapids Christkindl Markt Glühwein mug available, adorned with German-inspired design for your collecting.
Vendors of all kinds will fill the cozy market booths lined outside the Downtown Market. Below, find a preview of just some of the holiday vendors you can visit while strolling through the snow.
Holiday Bites: Food and Treats
Indulge your taste buds in a European culinary adventure at Christkindl Markt. From savory sausages to sweet treats, there’s something to satisfy every palate:
Raclette Extravaganza: Baked Cheese Haus serves up a warm, gooey delight – Alpine-style raclette generously draped over a baguette. Complemented by a curated selection of charcuterie, it’s a true taste of the Swiss Alps. Elevate the experience with a cup of hot honeycrisp apple cider for the perfect pairing.
Belgian Waffle Magic: Amazing Lights crafts Belgian waffles with an array of fruits and sweet toppings. They’re the perfect companion to a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
Hearty Soups in Bread Bowls: Warm up with a rotating selection of homemade soups and stews. From clam chowder to broccoli cheddar, goulash, and chili, each hearty bowl is served in a freshly baked bread bowl, adding an extra touch of comfort.
Sausages & European Delights: One Stop Coney, a Grand Rapids gem, offers an assortment of European sausages – from Polish dogs to bratwurst and currywurst. Pair them with fresh-cut Belgian fries drizzled in curry ketchup or enjoy crispy fried potato pancakes for a truly authentic experience.
Decadent Chocolates & Candies: Dive into the world of fine chocolates with Zotter Chocolates. Crafted from bean to bar, they come in delightful flavor combinations, with layers of wafers, berries, and nuts. And for a touch of Christmas nostalgia, explore Hammond Candies’ classic treats, available in over 50 fun flavors.
Crepes with a Midwest Twist: Crepes by the Lake offers a delightful twist on this classic French delicacy. Choose from sweet or savory varieties, each with a unique Midwest flair. And don’t forget to pair your crepe with their house-made hot cider for the ultimate cozy experience.
French Pastry Elegance: Le Macaron French Pastries brings you an array of elevated treats straight from the heart of France. From delicate macarons to indulgent eclairs, napoleons, and chocolates, each bite is a celebration of French pastry artistry.
Shoppe Till You Drop: Gifts Galore!
Artisanal Gifts and Trinkets: Immerse yourself in a world of handcrafted treasures and unique décor at Christkindl Markt, each item infused with the passion and creativity of its maker from local vendors. Explore, shop, and bring a touch of the holidays home with you or find that perfect gift:
Upcycled Wearables: Baabaazuzu weaves magic with post-consumer wool, fashioning them into one-of-a-kind winter accessories. From hats to mittens, scarves, and bags, each piece is a testament to their commitment to sustainable fashion.
Small Batch Soaps & Cosmetics: Soap Dude Cosmetics revolutionizes skincare with their handmade, organic products. From soaps to shampoo bars, beard oils, and more, their range caters to both men and women, offering a natural, nourishing touch to your daily routine.
Great Lakes Inspired Ceramics: Grayling Ceramic’s creations pay homage to the beauty of the Great Lakes region. Handmade in Kalamazoo, their durable home goods reflect the colors and forms of this iconic area, ensuring each piece is a functional work of art.
Whimsical Socks and Novelty Gifts: Leon James brings a playful twist to gift-giving with custom crew socks in a kaleidoscope of patterns and colors. Also available are handcrafted sock monkeys, handblown glass ornaments, and a delightful collection of seasonal snow globes.
Latin-Inspired Artistry: Guelaguetza Designs builds cultural bridges through handcrafted, vibrant jewelry, home decor, clothing, and more, all inspired by the rich traditions of Mexico. Each piece is a burst of color and culture, perfect for adding a touch of global flair to any space.
Handcrafted Pottery with Love: Heather Lane Pottery’s earthenware creations, including holiday ornaments and personalized ceramic items, are not just pottery, but tokens of affection. Hand-painted and made with care, they add a special touch to any home and remind you to embrace the season with ease.
Artisanal Decor & Homeware: The Market Made curates a selection of unique home goods, from handmade concrete items to painted ornaments, macrame, and planters. Each piece is a testament to the beauty that comes from the hands of skilled artisans.
Christkindl Market hours will be Wednesdays and Thursdays 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Fridays 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.