Travel News What are the best Christmas markets in the USA and will they go ahead this year?

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What are the best Christmas markets in the USA and will they go ahead this year?

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you'll be ready.

If it seems hard to get into the holiday spirit in a year like 2020, we’ve got just the thing to light up your tree: an inspirational guide to Christmas markets in the USA and beyond. Whether or not you end up visiting any of them, these tidings of comfort are sure to bring you joy.

Note that while we’ve done our best only to recommend markets unaffected by current COVID-related restrictions, it’s possible this could change before we get a chance to update this guide. Visit our regularly-updated coronavirus travel advice page as often as you can to make sure you’re always up to date!

Will Christmas markets in the USA go ahead this year?

As a general rule, restrictions related to Christmas markets (and other large gatherings) are related to the COVID situation on the ground. States and cities where infection rates are low are less likely to see markets canceled or limited, while surges of the virus may see capacity limits put in place or even outright bans on in-person events in the most extreme cases.

When we name a few specific USA Christmas markets in the coming paragraphs, we’ll link to relevant websites with current information as to whether each is opened or closed. Regardless, you should always plan to follow coronavirus best practices, including wearing a mask, socially distancing as much as possible, and sanitizing your hands frequently.

Aerial view of Christmas market
Europe’s Christmas markets, such as this one in Cologne, Germany, are where the tradition began.

What about Christmas markets abroad?

This article is about the best Christmas markets in the US, but we’d be remiss not to discuss Christmas market in Europe. It’s especially important to mention Christmas markets in Germany, as this is the epicenter of the magical and centuries-old tradition, and is where most other Christmas markets throughout Europe and the world draw their inspiration.

While certain Christmas markets throughout Europe will be open this year (albeit with restrictions in place due to the nascent second wave of COVID-19), most US-based travelers are currently unable to visit Europe for tourism. We encourage you to read this piece, which explains when we’ll able to be able to visit Europe again.

The most beautiful Christmas markets in the USA

  1. Christkindlmarket in Chicago, IL
  2. Downtown Holiday Market in Washington, DC
  3. Christkindlmarket in Bethlehem, PA
  4. Georgetown Christmas Market in Georgetown, CO
Christmas market rides
Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like a Christmas market.

Christkindlmarket in Chicago, IL

Will Chicago’s Christkindlmarket go ahead this year?

Although the Christkindlmarket in Chicago is probably the most famous of Christmas markets in the US, it won’t be taking place this year, at least not physically. Rather, you can shop and (to the extent technology allows), experience the seasonal ambience virtually. Given that Illinois requires a 14-day quarantine for many US-based travelers, this ensures the event is much more accessible than in-person festivities would do. Visit the official Christkindlmarket website to learn more.

Downtown Holiday Market in Washington, DC

Will the Downtown Holiday Market go ahead this year?

The good news? Downtown Holiday Market, frequently cited as one of the best Christmas markets in the USA, will be open until December 23, 2020, albeit with some COVID-related safety measures in place. The better news? After a turbulent year and hard-fought presidential election, it’s sure to bring some much-needed smiles (behind masks, of course) to our nation’s capital, whether you book a flight to DC as a visitor, or you call the district home.

Christkinlmarket in Bethlehem, PA

Will Bethlehem’s Christkindlmarket go ahead this year?

While it bears the same name as one of the other top USA Christmas markets on this list, the Pennsylvania edition of the Christkindlmarket will be open in 2020 every weekend through the end of November. With this being said, many safety protocols will be in place at the aptly-named “Christmas City” — see a full list of them here. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you are able to enter Pennsylvania if you plan to visit the Bethlehem Christkindlmarket, so again, always be sure to check government guidelines and restrictions before planning or booking travel.

Georgetown Christmas Market in Georgetown, CO

Will Georgetown Christmas Market go ahead this year?

Located just an hour’s drive from Denver International Airport, Colorado’s Georgetown Christmas Market is as convenient as it is charming. Yet it isn’t just the many flights to Denver that make it one of the top Christmas markets in USA. The 2020 event will take place during the first two weeks of December, although you should be mindful of social distancing regulations, and be prepared to wear a mask throughout your visit. Learn more about Georgetown Christmas Market here.

Christmas market stand
Even if you can’t make it to a Christmas market this year, you’ve got the gift of inspiration for a 2021 trip

End a turbulent 2020 with a Merry Christmas

2020 has been a hard year, but it’s not too late for a joyful conclusion. For some people, this will involve traveling to the best Christmas markets in USA, while for others, reading about them provides a priceless gift of travel inspiration for the post-COVID future. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, we hope your heart is feeling a little lighter, and that you’re filled with at least a bit more holiday cheer about that year that’s passed. And again — before you book any travel, remember to always check local government guidelines.

Where can I travel right now?

Slowly but surely, the world is re-opening for those who are ready to discover it again. No matter where you sit on this continuum, we recommend you check out Skyscanner’s interactive travel restrictions map, which we’re constantly updating. Go visit a top USA Christmas market, or give yourself the Christmas gift of travel in the new year!

FAQ about Christmas markets in USA

Are there Christmas markets in America?

Christmas markets do exist in America, but while they’ve drawn inspiration from their European counterparts, there are some key differences. One is that you can’t (usually) walk through them with mulled wine due to stricter laws on public drinking.

What city has the best Christmas markets?

Christkindlmarkets in Chicago, IL and Bethlehem, PA are generally regarded as the best American Christmas markets, while Montreal’s Christmas Village is another excellent North American choice. In Europe, Germany’s Christmas markets tend to be the most celebrated, particularly the one at Marienplatz in Munich.

Where is the biggest Christmas market?

Vienna’s Christmas World is the largest Christmas market in the world, occupying dozens of city blocks just opposite the Rathaus in the center of the Austrian capital.

night view of christmas tree on the water
If you can’t make it to a Christmas market in 2020, start getting inspired for 2021 and beyond

Want to read more?

Now that you’re hopefully in a merry mood from reading about the best Christmas markets in the USA, we encourage you to take a look at some of other inspiring travel content: