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The Four Best Holiday Markets in Chicago

These seasonal fairs fuse shopping with entertainment (and booze!) to take the chore out of gift scrounging.

Renegade Craft Fair
Photo: Sally O’Donnell

1 Renegade Craft Fair

December 1 to 2

What it is:A showcase for emerging and established artisans alongside immersive experiences like motivational-tinged tarot readings

Why visit:Part community gathering, part entrepreneurial incubator, the fair transforms the Bridgeport Art Center into a celebration of craftsmanship, with mood-enhancing drinks and tracks spun by local DJs.

Don’t miss:Baseball bats as works of art from Pillbox Bat Co. (from $100)

Details:Free. 1200 W. 35th St., Bridgeport

Sauced Night Market Before X-mas

2 Sauced Night Market Before X-mas

December 6

What it is:The “not a craft market” market says no to monogrammed stockings, offering instead sure-fire gifts that your buds will actually want, such as food and liquor.

Why visit:Inspired by the night markets of Southeast Asia, the bazaar vibe is undeniably festive, with cocktails pushed out of pop-up bar the Tank.

Don’t miss:Hot sauces (one is ominously named Omen) from Soothsayer for those on the naughty list ($8)

Details:Free. 12 S. Michigan Ave., Loop

Randolph Street Market

3 Randolph Street Market

December 15 to 16

What it is:Think of it as a collection of upscale antiques stores buoyed by live acoustic music, high-end snacks like peppermint marshmallows, and a full open bar.

Why visit:Vintage estate pickers and global artisans bring literally one-of-a-kind treasures. Look for deadstock designer goods, as well as elegant stocking stuffers, like sterling martini shakers.

Don’t miss:Mint-condition vintage Hermès scarves from Swell Stuff (from $45)

Details:$10 to $12. 1341 W. Randolph St., West Town


4 Christkindlmarket

Through December 24

What it is:The classic Bavarian-village-style fair with nutcrackers and cuckoo clocks

Why visit:The candy-cane-striped wooden huts at this 20-plus-year-old Chicago tradition are signs of the season. Daley Plaza will be abuzz with twinkling lights, flowing Glühwein, and sausage- and strudel-scarfing families.

Don’t miss:A Stammtisch table in the heated Grand Timber Haus. Reserve one (from $200, including food for eight people) for two hours.

Details:Free. 50 W. Washington St., Loop


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