8 Ways to Enjoy Christkindlmarket Des Moines Like a Pro

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8 Ways to Enjoy Christkindlmarket Des Moines Like a Pro

A few years ago, many of our “normal” holiday traditions were upended, including one of Iowa’s newest ones – Christkindlmarket Des Moines. Fortunately, this three-and-a-half-day bit of European culture, shopping, eating, and imbibing is back starting on Dec. 1 at Principal Park in downtown Des Moines. This includes its famous child-centric Kinder Korner where all ages are welcomed in to participate in learning about and creating handmade treasures.

Before you head to Principal Park (plenty of free parking), take a few minutes to understand what makes Christkindlmarkets unique and consider adopting these tips from market veterans.

1. Consider your apparel.

A Christmas market outing calls for layers, hats, gloves, and sensible, warm shoes. There will likely be indoor tents, but you’ll spend a lot of your time outdoors.

2. Learn about Glühwein (gloo-vine).

This mulled wine will become your best friend ever found in a collectible mug – exuding life-giving warmth and enjoyment. 

3. Visit both day and night.

Day and night bring two completely different vibes, each with its own charms. Thanks to the short December days, the timing is on your side to do this in one trip.

4. Come hungry.

You’ll want an empty stomach to take full advantage of the curated specialties. You may know bratwurst, but do you know the joys of sweet and savory strudel? What about Danish kringle (kring-la) or authentic lebkuchen (layb-kook-hen)?

5. Queue like a pro.

We Americans are an antsy lot, but market lines often move quicker than the appearance would suggest. However, pros know to grab a quick beer or pretzel before queuing in long lines.

6. Make a loop.

It’s always wise to make the first pass through the venue to get a real feel of all the vendors. Then go back to get that perfect holiday gift that no one else in your family will have.

7. Park the baby carriage.

Americans don’t like to leave anything behind but don’t try to push a stroller into a tent or other tight area. Many markets have dedicated parking spots.

8. Savor the Gemütlichkeit (geh-moot-lick-kite).

This German tongue twister sums up the cozy feeling you’ll have once you visit a traditional Christmas market and it’s what you’ll remember later. It’s the amazing combination of warmth from the food, the music, and of course, the people.

Produced by the Iowa European Cultural Connection, the 2023 Christkindlmarket Des Moines at Principal Park is open the following hours in 2023:

  • Thursday, November 30 from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Friday, December 1 & Saturday, December 2 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • There is no admission fee
  • Free parking is available in Principal Park lots between SW 2nd and SW 3rd Streets.

Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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