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The best display of the magical festive season can be seen at all the twinkling, gift-filled Christmas markets that pop up all over the world during the holiday season.  And the US plays host to some spectacular ones, in European-inspired alpine settings, many with live events, ice skating rinks, local artisans, antique dealers, and lots of hot cocoa and mulled wine to warm your cockles.  Here are the best in our own backyard.

Bryant Park Winter Village, New York City

Image Courtesy of Bryant Park Winter Village

The Bryant Park Winter Village in NYC goes above and beyond the festivities with the addition of a massive 17,000-foot ice skating rink that covers the entire lawn and is surrounded by an endless maze of market stalls. This year the winter village is open through January 2, so there’s plenty of time to shop for holiday gifts and get into the seasonal spirit. The market is also home to The Lodge, an après ski-inspired covered area where you can get a full view of the beautiful park while sipping a holiday cocktail and immersing yourself in the festive scene.

Grand Holiday Bazaar, New York City

Image Courtesy of NY Metro Parents

Just opened for a truncated season the Grand Holiday Bazaar on the Upper West Side plays host to hundreds of independent and local artisans to ensure that the gifts you pick out are truly one-of-a-kind. Unlike other holiday markets in NYC, here you can pick up everything from small gifts through to antiques and furniture.  The best part is all profits will be donated to four local public schools which will benefit more than 2,000 children in the nearby area.

Alpine Village Torrance, Los Angeles

Image Courtesy of Alpine Village Torrance

Though the Alpine Village Torrance is open all year round, it’s during the month leading up to Christmas that they pull out all the festive stops. First opened in 1968, the village is a Bavarian-style nook in Los Angeles that offers a full-blown German Christmas experience. Think local artisans, holiday gifts, traditional food, grocers, and German-inspired decorations that will make you feel as though you’ve flown halfway around the world.

December Nights Balboa Park, San Diego

A little south of Los Angeles lies this traditional San Diego market that comes to life during the holiday season.  Inspired by a smaller market that first originated in 1978 along the El Prado walkway, December Nights Balboa Park now takes over Balboa Park with the centerpiece, a giant Christmas tree brought to the park from the Cuyamaca Mountains. And while there is plenty of gift-worthy shopping, this holiday market is more about the museum, live music, food vendors, and festive weekend evening events.

Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco

Image Courtesy of Great Dickens Christmas Fair

You’ll think you’ve been transported back in time to Charles Dickens’ London when you step into San Francisco’s Great Dickens Christmas Fair with its historic Victorian-inspired theme.  Taking place since1970, it’s held at the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, and this holiday market boasts more than just shopping—here, you will be able to enjoy live performances, festive costumes, and lots of culinary delights.  On each weekend through December 19.

Christmas Village, Philadelphia

Image Courtesy of Visit Philadelphia

Christmas Village in Philadelphia, PA has been going strong for a decade. Another German-inspired Christmas spectacular, it’s located in Love Park, around the iconic Robert Indiana sculpture.  In recent years the village has begun to spill over into the plaza across the street, surrounding City Hall’s Dilworth Plaza. Here you can shop for gifts, enjoy local mulled wine, delicious food from local restaurants and wineries and get into the spirit with live music and festive dances.  The village is open through Christmas Eve.

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