Experience a traditional German Christmas at the Annual Chicago Christkindlmarket, inspired by the famous Nuremberg Christmas market dating back to 1545. Address: Daley Plaza, 50 W Washington St, Chicago
Presented by the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, this outdoor market offers exquisite handmade gifts, unique ornaments, rare European fabrics and textiles and the opportunity to devour German delicacies like brats, goulash, potato pancakes, cookies and Glühwein (a warm spiced wine).
It all began on Christmas evening in 1913 when Chicago’s first municipal Christmas tree was lit by Mayor Carter H. Harrison in Grant Park. Standing 35 feet high the Douglas Spruce was decorated with 600 multi-colored lights and topped with the Star of Bethlehem. Over the years the tree got bigger and it wasn’t always a natural grown tree — actually, in 1956, Chicago’s Christmas tree was a tree that had been created from many smaller trees: it measured 70 feet tall and was decorated with about 4,400 lights and more than 2,000 ornaments. At that time it was located at Congress Parkway and Michigan Avenue.
In 1966 the Tree Lighting Ceremony was moved to Civic Center Plaza which is now Daley Center Plaza. In 1982 the location was again moved to State Street and Wacker Drive, and was returned to Daley Plaza the following year.
In 1991 Mayor Daley asked the Department of “Streets & Sanitation” to find a large single transplantable tree which could be transplanted into a city park after the holidays, however, the largest they could find was 35 feet tall and it wasn’t in favor to be large enough for the plaza. Again, the tree was artificially constructed from many smaller trees.
2009 marked the first time since 1955 that the city has used one single tree — The tree was donated by the Weivoda family of Palos Heights.
The 2010 tree, a 70 foot fir tree, was donated by the John Colomer family of McHenry, Illinois.
In 2015, Millennium Park was chosen as the new destination for the Christmas Tree.
Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Around end of November the city officially lights up the Christmas tree at Daley Plaza.
Time: 5pm on that day
Date: varies from year to year a couple of days.