NAPERVILLE – For many, visiting the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza in Chicago has become a holiday tradition.
But one does not have to go to Chicago to experience a traditional German holiday season market. For the second straight year, a Christkindlmarket is taking up residence at Naper Settlement at 523 S. Webster St. in Naperville. Christkindlmarket Naperville will continue through Dec. 24, and admission is free.
Kate Bleeker, senior manager of Chicago-based German American Events LLC, which puts on the Christkindlmarket, said the market was well-received last year at Naper Settlement.
"It was surprising the number of people we had come out," Bleeker said. "Last year, we had over 200,000 people come through the market during our inaugural year, which is really exciting. The market this year has expanded. We have 47 vendors this year, which is about 13 more vendors than we had last year."
German American Events is a subsidiary of the German American Chamber of Commerce. The company puts on the Christkindlmarket at Naper Settlement, Daley Center and the Park at Wrigley in Chicago.
"Our mission is to promote German culture and German tradition and ultimately support our parent company, which is the German American Chamber of Commerce, in promoting trade and business relationships between Germany and the U.S.," Bleeker said. "The Christkindlmarket is more of a public way that we can sort of promote German culture and German tradition and really give people here in the U.S. a chance to experience that."
About 70 percent of the vendors at the Christkindlmarket are from Germany or German-speaking countries, she said. The Christkindlmarket has a long tradition in Chicago, having first opened there in 1996.
Organizers have been able to replicate the atmosphere of the Chicago market at Naper Settlement, Bleeker said. The Naper Settlement location is more convenient for some people to experience the Christkindlmarket.
"It is something for people to come out to and really have the full experience," she said. "There is a whole new group of people who are able to come out and experience the market without having to drive downtown and spend the money to park and deal with traffic and everything. It's a nice addition to what we have downtown and now what we're starting to build at the Park at Wrigley as well."
There are a number of new food vendors at this year's Naper Settlement Christkindlmarket selling everything from pastries and sauteed mushrooms to brats and potato pancakes, Bleeker said. There also are more merchants at this year's Christkindlmarket.
"There are hand-carved statues," Bleeker said. "There are a number of different ornaments. There are two walk-in cabins for ornaments. There's all sorts of stuff."
Hot spiced wine and imported beers also are for sale in the festival tent. In addition, the Naper Settlement Christkindlmarket will feature its own mug for the first time.
"It's different than the Chicago mug, so that's exciting as well," Bleeker said. "It says Naperville on it, and it features some of Naperville's landmarks, like the Carillon and the Martin Mitchell Mansion. It's special for the area."
As part of the market, the Naperville-based Center Stage Players will perform from 6 to 7 p.m. Dec. 23, and the Christkind, a fairy-like being dressed in gold and white robes with a crown upon her golden locks, will visit the market from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 24. The word "Christkind" translates to "Christ Child."
Bleeker said she looks forward to the Christkindlmarket becoming a holiday tradition at Naper Settlement for years to come.
"We hope so," she said. "We're really so happy about having found the partnership with Naper Settlement and having the market out there. The welcome we've received from the city of Naperville and the community has been overwhelming, and we're really excited to be a part of that and have this really great event out there that people can come and enjoy."
If you go
WHAT: Christkindlmarket Naperville
WHEN: through Dec. 24
WHERE: Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville