Modeled after the holiday markets in Germany, these markets can be found throughout Pennsylvania in the days leading up to Christmas. Here is everything you to need to know about the largest of their kind in the Keystone State.
What is a Christmas Market?
For the purpose of our story, we are focusing on multi-day markets inspired by German Christkindlmarkts. These markets date back to the Middle Ages — the first recorded one took place in 1310! The outdoor markets feature numerous wooden stalls selling all sorts of toys, ornaments, nutcrackers and more. They also have a good deal of food available as well, including bratwurst and strudels. A few even offer Gluhwein (hot mulled wine).
Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem
The Christmas City isn’t missing any Yuletide traditions, including a Christkindlmarkt. The market includes ice carving demonstrations, hot glass blowing experiences (where you’ll make your own ornament for $55), live music and visits from Santa.
Artisans will be selling a wide variety of goods, including handmade metal flowers, hand-stitched baby booties, bonsai art, angel keepsakes and stained glass Moravian stars — in addition to the traditional ornaments and nutcrackers.
You can ship gifts directly from the market thanks to the United States Postal Service’s “Big Blue Box.”
As for food, there is everything on offer from pizza to pierogies to strudel to Belgian waffles.
Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Gluhwein! Bratwurst! Schnitzel! Strudel! The Christmas Village in Philadelphia has it all. Add in live music, a gigantic 27-foot-tall holiday gift box, a beer garden and some amazing baked cheese and you have a solid sense of what to expect at this Philadelphia tradition.
Grab a doner kebob to eat as you explore the vendors, or a Swiss raclette (baked cheese sandwich). Other food vendors are offering bacon jam, roasted nuts, crepes, spaetzle (think mac and cheese with a German twist) and stollen.
Stop by the Alm Beer Garden to enjoy brews from Brewery Techne in Philadelphia, including a special wintery creation. The Chaddsford Winery booths are where you want to go for Gluhwein. And, for those who prefer their warm drink without alcohol, there are also plenty of chances to grab hot chocolate.
As for non-food vendors, Kathe Wohlfahrt is there to sell you all the traditional German Christmas gifts: ornaments, smokers, pyramids, music boxes and ornaments. Other stalls sell everything from ornate pop-up cards to pillows from Turkey. There is even a stall that specializes in cat, dog and bird treats.
Oh, and we mentioned a giant gift. The Present is a walk-through art installation made up of thousands of lights in the shape of a wrapped box. Feeling generous? Make a $5 donation to one of three causes via text and Bank of America will match it (and you’ll get to showcase your donation in the Present itself). Text PARKS to 501501 to donate to the Fairmount Park Conservancy, BOOK to 20222 to donate to the Welcome America’s holiday book campaign or HOME to 80100 to donate to Project HOME.
Mifflinburg Christkindl Market
Marionette shows, magicians, jugglers, lantern parades and more are part of the festivities at this market. Bring your children along and take them to Kinder World, where they can go to elf school and look at dollhouses and gingerbread homes.
This year the market is themed after Vienna in Austria. There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about Germany and Austria as well, with presentations the history and culture of Vienna and performances of folk dances and songs.
There are vendors of course, but they haven’t been announced yet. The market states that it will have a wide selection of gift items, as well as opportunities to eat roasted chestnuts, potato pancakes, Gluhwein and sausages.
Come see us this week in Pittsburgh at the Market Square Holiday Market. We’re open daily from 11am to 8pm. #pittsburgh #christmas
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Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Pittsburgh
Santa Claus, live music and scores of vendors await you at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market. Make a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank for a complimentary photo with Santa (they recommend donating $5).
Don’t miss the Holiday Karaoke Contest from 5-7 p.m. every Monday and Tuesday. The grand finale winner will be awarded $1,000 for their efforts.
As for the artisans, their wares include natural candles, handmade jewelry, Polish dolls, Nepalese handmade wool ponchos, music boxes, Kenyan-made nativity sets and more. When it comes to food, you will find Austrian favorites: strudels, bratwurst, pretzels, hot chocolate and apple cider.
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