While some Iowans may not see the upsides to longer nights and chilly days, those in the know embrace the season head-on by making plans to visit Iowa’s very own Christkindlmarket Des Moines. That’s where you will find what Germans call “Gemütlichkeit,” which is a sense of warmth, friendliness and good cheer.
Some of the cheer for happy marketgoers will come from sipping the piping hot Glühwein imported from Germany, which is served in a collectible mug. And as you sip this magical brew of red wine and mulled spices, you’re easily transported to another place as you roam among the locally made wooden huts for holiday wares and delectable treats.
This year’s edition of the Des Moines Christkindlmarket, produced by the Des Moines European Heritage Association, is bigger and better than ever. Still located at Cowles Commons and adjacent Walnut Street in downtown, the German Christmas-themed market, opens on Friday, Nov. 30 and runs until Sunday, Dec. 2. The Opening Ceremony will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, as the Christkind (the Christmas Angel) officially opens the market with her proclamation and is helped by the Kinder (children) on a procession with luminaria.
Based on requests, this year’s market will include more items imported directly from Germany such as steins, nutcrackers, ornaments, holiday foods and candies. From the Midwest, vendors will offer everything from wooden toys, gourmet oils, gingerbread, strudel, handmade ornaments, candles and wooden utensils. In addition, attendees will get to see multiple artisans create their wares directly. These include a tinsmith, a chainsaw carver, a wreath-maker and a traditional wood carver.
In another nod to authenticity, the Christkindlmarket has partnered with Usinger’s Famous Sausage to bring marketgoers traditional bratwurst that the family-owned company has been making since 1880. Hungry attendees can get their fix at the new “Bratwurst Imbiss am Markt” stand in the central part of the market.
With its debut last year, the Yuletide Hall will be back in 2018 as the market’s enclosed, heated entertainment tent. It will offer marketgoers a great space to sit and watch the local and regional musical acts while they enjoy easy access to the wide variety of beer, including this year’s Saint Nick’s Christkindlbier from Des Moines-based Confluence Brewery.
What: Christkindlmarket Des Moines (A German-Inspired Outdoor Christmas Market)
When: Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 (11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fri./Sat.; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sun.)
Where: Cowles Commons, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines, IA 50309
Image credit: Des Moines European Heritage Assn.