Old World Christmas Market

Yuletide Travels to Elkhart Lake
By Kristine Hansen

Every December outdoor Christmas Markets (or Christkindlesmarkts) in Germany and Austria light up the season with mugs of Glühwein (hot mulled wine), crafts like carved nutcrackers, nativity scenes and food stalls. Similar festivities abound Dec. 2-11 at the Old World Christmas Market at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, about a two-hour drive northeast of Madison. Spanning 10 days, it’s modeled after the Christmas Market in Nüremberg, Germany, a tradition in that city since the 16th century.

Twinkling lights cast a soft glow over the market and the scent of balsam fir lingers in the air. In addition to selling food with an Old World bent (think brats, Bavarian pretzels and apple strudel), the 70-some vendors include artisans eager to show off their crafts, such as wool stockings, alpaca socks, German lace, Czech blown-glass ornaments, woolen capes and deerskin gloves. Consider picking up a fresh balsam wreath for a last-minute holiday decoration at home. Families with young kids will want to visit Father Christmas under a huge heated tent. Paired with this year’s annual market is a class on Dec. 2 and 3 on how to bake Springerle cookies at The Osthoff Resort’s L’Ecole de la Maison cooking school. Native to Germany, these embossed cookies fold in anise and citrus flavors. The $95 class fee includes a box of cookies to take home, as well as a recipe and a mold.

After the market, warm up at Vintage Elkhart Lake. Jaclyn Stuart, former sommelier at The American Club and Milwaukee’s Indulge Wine Bar, curated a wine-by-the-glass menu to be enjoyed at her shop’s tasting room, and sells made-in-Wisconsin food items, from artisanal cheese to chocolate. Not ready to head home just yet? Staying at The Osthoff Resort—which includes two Christmas Market tickets in a special overnight package—is a treat, thanks to its 20,000-square-foot Aspira Spa (try the Cedars Massage, incorporating fresh cedar once treasured by local Native Americans as a form of purity and protection). Lola’s On the Lake’s dinner menu features Dairy State sourcing, like Rushing Waters rainbow trout, a perfect feast for launching the holidays.

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