Christkindlmarket Will Return for Chicago's Holidays After a Pandemic Hiatus

© Amelia Anderson/Christkindlmarket The Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza in 2019

The Christkindlmarket, the German-themed holiday fair that has delighted Chicagoans for 25 years, will return and resemble its pre-pandemic self on November 19 when it arrives at both Daley Plaza and Gallagher Way.

Both local and European food and gift vendors are back, including DönerMen, purveyors of kebab and currywurst. Those coveted souvenir beer steins will also come back, though the shape and design of this year’s mugs won’t be revealed for a few more weeks. The Stammtisch indoor dining option will be available again this year: up to eight people can reserve slots and meals to eat inside a heated timber hut. Organizers also promise other surprises as the market celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The Daley Plaza location remains open through December 24, while Wrigleyville stays open through December 31.

“There was never any question of [the market] not coming back,” says Kate Bleeker, the market’s director of operations. “Last year with all the cancellations, it was hard on all the vendors. They’re all small business owners and had a hard time making it through.”

The Christkindlmarket was cancelled in 2020 due to concerns over COVID-19. The market’s organizers held a virtual market online where Chicagoans could buy gifts and learn about German holiday customs, but it was not the same. DMen Tap, a bar in Avondale that grew out of the DönerMen food truck, tried to fill the gap with an outdoor pop-up with the blessing of the Christkindlmarket organizers.

The pandemic is still going on in 2021, but officer workers — many of which patronize the market during lunch hours and after work — are slowly returning. The market is traditionally always packed, which adds another layer of complication: how to handle COVID-19 in an environment where lots of people are eating and drinking. There are no official protocols yet, but the market organizers are working closely with the city and monitoring reports to keep visitors safe. The virtual market, which the Christkindlmarket launched last year so that people could shop for gifts from home, goes live October 25.

A ticketed, limited capacity ’Twas the Night Before Christkindlmarket event will take place at Daley Plaza November 18, the evening before the market opens to the general public. Visitors can remain apprised of that, Stammtisch reservations, and general information about the market by signing up for the newsletters on the Christkindlmarket website.

Time Out Chicago first reported the story.

And in other news…

— Lao mega-hit Sao Song is slated to pop up from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday at Kimski in Bridgeport with a Polish-influenced menu featuring duck larb pierogies (foie, pearl onions, plum) and sai oua stuffed cabbage (herbal pork sausage, charred tomato jeow).

Haymarket Pub & Brewery is brewing a special beer with a unique mission with Sun-Times entertainment reporter Evan Moore. Moore, who is a hockey superfan, recently co-authored a book with Jashvina Shah and Renee Hess: Game Misconduct: Hockey’s Toxic Culture and How to Fix It. The book delves into a few topics including hockey’s resistance in welcoming Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and women into its ranks — something that can be said of craft beer as well. On October 15, the West Loop brewery will tap Even Strength Goal Ale and donate proceeds from sales to Black Girl Hockey Club, Inner City Education, Hockey On Your Block, and Chicago North Stars — all groups that share missions that vibe with the book’s message. As Moore writes: “For the uninitiated, an even strength goal takes place when everyone is on the ice.”

South Side Weekly unleashed its annual rundown of top-rated spots among residents for coffee, paletas, barbecue, baked goods, and much more, all broken down by neighborhood. This year’s victors include North Lawndale’s 5th Avenue Smokers (Best Pop-Up BBQ), Little Village’s Pescaditos Estilo D.F. aka Mr. Fish (Best Fried Fish), and Bronzeville’s Ain’t She Sweet Cafe (Best Wait for a Good Meal).

— Axios’s first Chicago newsletter debuted Monday with blurbs from veteran Chicago journalist Monica Eng, who in July left her former post at WBEZ. The newsletter unveils Bite Club, where Eng breaks down a restaurant’s specialty. For the first issue, Eng writes about doughnut shrimp from MK Noodle in Lakeview. In a Chicago media landscape where food reporting (not just pretty photos from influencer types passed along as reporting) is being slashed, Axios could find a niche.

— The Andersonville Wine Walk will resume next month for its 15th year, according to a news release. As in years past, attendees can choose between two routes (Cork or Bottle) that will lead them through the neighborhood with stops at 10 area businesses for wine and some food pairings. Participating businesses include dive icon Simon’s Tavern, soul food spot Bettie Lou’s, and Middle Eastern restaurant Fiya. The event runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 3. Tickets ($35 per route) and more details are available online. Patrons must show proof of vaccination to attend.

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